Detroit/Minnesota over 4.5 -115:
It might still be relatively early in the season, but the Detroit Tigers are clearly frustrated with their play especially after some huge acquisitions in the offseason that bolstered their roster to the level of potential championship contention. A trip to Target Field however might help get them going in a positive direction. After being swept by the AL Central leaders including receiving no run support for Verlander yesterday, the Tigers hope for a turnaround Friday night as they try to continue their recent road success against the last-place Minnesota Twins.
The preseason favorite to repeat as Central champion, Detroit (20-24) won nine of its first 12 games but is 11-21 since. The third-place Tigers totaled six runs while dropping all three games at Cleveland this week to fall six games behind the division-leading Indians. Detroit went 3 for 28 with runners in scoring position in the Cleveland series, with sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young a combined 0 for 12. Fielder went 1 for 12 overall. Not the recipe for winning considering these are by far your 3 top sluggers on the team. Having leadoff hitter Austin Jackson (batting .331) on the disabled list with an abdominal strain does not help. The Tigers, though, could get a boost with versatile Ryan Rayburn set to return from the bereavement list. He's 8 for 17 (.471) in his last five games at Minnesota.
The Tigers scored 10 runs but were swept by Minnesota in a two-game home set last week. Detroit, however, has batted .312 and outscored the Twins 67-44 while winning eight of its last 10 games at Target Field. Tigers rookie Drew Smyly (1-1, 2.89 ERA), who has never faced the Twins (15-29), takes the mound Friday looking to improve on his last two starts. The left-hander yielded four runs on two homers in each of those two outings, the latest a 4 2-3-inning effort in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh. He faces a Minnesota team looking to avoid a third straight loss after falling 11-8 at Chicago on Thursday. Justin Morneau hit two home runs and had three RBIs, but the Twins lost for the third time in four contests. A road trip that began with a season-high four straight wins ended with a 5-3 record. Morneau is 7 for 17 with a home run and four RBIs in his last four games versus Detroit. Despite the Twins loss last night it may be a good sign considering the offense knocked out Humber early.
Replacing the injured Nick Blackburn (left quad strain), Minnesota's Anthony Swarzak (0-3, 4.73) makes his fourth start and first since being relegated to the bullpen after giving up six runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 7-6 loss at Yankee Stadium on April 19. Considering the price we get here in this spot, all indications point to a high scoring game as both pitchers look to solve some of their control problems. Detroit's focused three should be able to pad their numbers against Swarzak, who is searching for his first win of the season. In contrast, with Morneau starting to heat up, Smyly will have to pitch careful against hitters like Josh Willingham (.278 8 27) and Ryan Doumit (.263 5 24) who is returning after sorness in his left calf. Best of luck however you play!