The Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins kick-off a four-game weekend series at Target Field tonight in a classic showdown of two AL Central rivals. The first pitch is set for 8:10 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast on the MLB Network.
Detroit is 2-3 since the All-Star break and coming off a 7-5 loss to Oakland last night as a 118 home favorite. It is clinging to a share of the division lead with Cleveland with an overall record of 51-46. The Tigers are 29-22 at home, but below .500 on the road at 22-24.
This Detroit lineup remains one of the best in the AL with a team batting average of .264 and 432 runs scored. The problem for the Tigers has been a pitching staff that is ranked 12th in the league with a 4.28 ERA. Fortunately, they will have their ‘ace’ Justin Verlander on the mound tonight. He is 12-5 on the year with an ERA of just 2.29, but coming off a rough start in which he gave up four earned runs in six innings against the White Sox. Lifetime against the Twins, Verlander is 7-7 with a 3.71 ERA.
Minnesota has played its way back into the division race after a dreadful start and is now just five games back with a record of 46-51. It is 5-3 since the break after splitting a four-game set with Cleveland this past week. The Twins are 21-29 on the road and 25-22 at home.
This team continues to finds ways to win despite being ranked 11th in the AL in scoring with an average of 3.90 runs per game and 10th in pitching with team ERA of 4.16. All-Star catcher Joe Mauer is expected to be at first or hit as the DH in this game as he continues to work himself back into the lineup since coming off the DL. Minnesota will send Carl Pavano to the mound tonight. He had a solid start his last time out against Kansas City, giving up three runs on six hits in seven innings of work. Pavano is 6-6 this season with a 4.08 ERA. He is 5-2 lifetime against the Tigers with an ERA of 3.79.
Head-to-head, the Tigers are a perfect 5-0 this season and have won the last nine straight. The total has gone ‘over’ in four of the five games played this year. With Verlander on the mound, do not mess with perfection as Detroit runs its winning streak over the Twins to 10 with the win.