Series Preview: Tigers at Twins, May 25-27


I hope you enjoyed that winning road trip. Let’s not worry about the two losses that ended it. Now the Twins (15-29) return home to face the team they swept to begin that trip, the Detroit Tigers (20-24).

The Matchups:

Friday, May 25, 7:10 p.m. CDT: RHP Anthony Swarzak vs. LHP Drew Smyly

Saturday, May 26, 1:10 p.m. CDT: RHP Carl Pavano vs. RHP Max Scherzer

Sunday, May 27, 1:10 p.m. CDT: RHP P.J. Walters vs. RHP Rick Porcello

In a stroke of luck, the Twins have now avoided Justin Verlander in two consecutive series against the Tigers. The rest of the Detroit rotation is a lot less daunting than the reigning AL MVP. The Twins torched Porcello for six runs last week in an 11-7 win. Scherzer also presents a nice targer, as the Twins have saddled him with a 6.45 ERA in six career games. Justin Morneau has two homers against him in just five career at bats. The rookie Smyly has never faced the Twins.

The day after the Twins roughed up Porcello, Walters pitched a quality start against the Tigers, though he did allow three solo homers. Pavano has a respectable 4.32 career ERA versus Detroit, but the current Tiger roster is hitting a collective .333/.369/.521 off him. Swarzak’s numbers against the Tigers are not very good. In 13 innings, he has an ERA of 7.62 and 18 hits allowed.

The Head to Head:

After the two wins last week, Minnesota holds a 2-0 advantage in the season series, and a 385-339 overall mark since the Twins started play in 1961. If you count the years they played in Washington, though, the Tigers are still way ahead, 1,055-973.

The Weather:

The weather looks nice for Friday night, partly cloudy with a high of 72. But there’s a 60% chance of rain for Saturday. Bad news if that forces a Sunday doubleheader, because that day is going to be a hot one, with a high of 93.

The Story:

The Twins were enjoying a mini-hot streak with a sweep over Detroit and two wins at Milwaukee, but their shortcomings caught up with them, and they’ve lost three of four since. The fielders seem to be engaged in some kind of contest to see who can commit the most errors; they have five as a team in the last two games, and almost all of them have led to unearned runs. On the plus side, Morneau and Joe Mauer are heating up. Both homered in yesterday’s game, and Morneau hit two. Mauer has his average back up over .300, and his .301/.414/.423 slash line is starting to look like what we should expect from the former MVP.

Still, the Twins have some severe weaknesses. They are 11th in the AL in hitting (.243) and last with just 33 home runs. On the mound, their pitchers own a 5.38 ERA. That is not just the worst in the league, it’s the worst by about three quarters of a run! Minnesota also has the fewest strikeouts in MLB with 239 – 32 fewer than the 29th place Athletics.

Detroit, meanwhile, is near the middle of the pack in both pitching (4.10) and hitting (.254). This is an incredibly talented club that was expected to run away with the AL Central title, so we should not be surprised if they suddenly rattle off a string of victories and vault to the top. As it is, though, they languish behind Cleveland and Chicago. Detroit just suffered a sweep against the Indians that left them six games back, so they will be playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulders this weekend.

This series marks the first trip for Delmon Young back to Target Field this year. Given his reprehensible behavior earlier in the season, I have a feeling we can expect a few boos to ring out when he comes to the plate.

The Bottom Line:

Delmon or not, the Tigers are a superior team. Look for them to win two of three.