Series Preview – Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers
Sometimes, you can’t count on your team for anything. After splitting the series in Oakland, the Tigers guaranteed that I got another series prediction wrong. For those of you keeping track, my current standings are 8-9 for games and 0-6 for series. That’s a bummer. Hopefully I can get at least one series pick right before things are all said and done.
After the wrath of Brandon Inge came full circle this past weekend, the Tigers head back to Comerica Park on Wednesday to battle the Minnesota Twins for the first time this season. The Twins are not doing well so far, and should be easy pickings for the Tigers. But you never know when a team is going to put it all together, even for just one day, and shock the hell out of the favorite.
Wednesday – 5/16/12
Nick Blackburn vs. Rick Porcello
Nick Blackburn has not been good against the Tigers over his career. With a 4-6 record, and a 5.33 ERA, Blackburn isn’t exactly what would be considered a threat for the Tigers. Add to that the fact his ERA in the last three starts is almost seven, and you’ve got a recipe for success for the Tigers. Of course, that requires the offense to finally show up for more than one game. Right now, they’re playing .500 baseball, and have a two-game series in Chicago before heading home. I have no doubt they’d love to get more than a one-game winning streak going, and the Twins could be just the fodder necessary for that. Yet for some reason, despite the record, I seem to have very distinct memories of Blackburn always showing up to pitch in a big way when he takes on Detroit. And it worries me that despite his struggles, he may decide that this is the game to pitch a no-hitter.
Rick Porcello will always have a lifetime vendetta against Minnesota after the Game 163 tiebreaker in 2009. He pitched his heart out in that game, and in the end could only watch helplessly as the Twins snatched away the division in extra innings. That being said, with a 6-4 record and 2.86 ERA, Porcello has had his fair share of success against the Twins over the last three years. What those numbers tell us, though, is that when he pitches against Minnesota, run support is hit-or-miss. Given the way the Tigers have been playing lately, that trend doesn’t look like it’ll be stopping anytime soon. Of course, it helps that the majority of the current Twins’ roster hasn’t hit against Porcello before. Most of the damage seems to have been done by the players that Minnesota recently let walk away from the team.
Thursday – 5/17/12
P.J. Walters vs. Doug Fister
The Tigers saw Walters when he played in St. Louis during 2009-10. It was only for two innings, but in that time his ERA is 4.50. Yes, that’s only one run, and yes, the majority of the Detroit roster has never faced him. But that one run came on a home run from none other than Miguel Cabrera. In one at-bat, Cabrera took him deep. Which means that this could be just the game Cabrera needs to flex his muscles a little bit. Walters has been okay in the Twins’ rotation thus far this season, but that’s not saying much, especially since he’s only pitched one game and six innings so far. So he’s still a rookie starter, by all accounts. This will only be his sixth career start. Whether the Tigers can get loose on him or continue the Oakland trend of acting like A-class players when facing a pitcher they’ve yet to see remains to be seen.
Doug Fister caught some serious bad luck out in Oakland in his second start off the DL. He only gave up one run in six innings, but was still given the loss, as his offense couldn’t put up any runs for him. I’m sure he was having nightmares that entire night about his time in Seattle, and just what a lack of run support can do to a pitcher’s record. Doug was also having some trouble finding his command with the fastball early in the Oakland game, but he quickly figured himself out and is the proud owner of a 0.54 ERA. Of course, he sports a 1-4 record with a 3.24 ERA against the Twins, but most of that came in Seattle (since he still only has two losses his entire time in a Tigers’ uniform). With any luck, the home crowd and warm weather will energize the team enough to put up some runs.
Game 1: Tigers
Game 2: Tigers
Final: Tigers win series 2-0
I just can’t bet against Fister in Game 2. Even with the devastating loss over the weekend, he’s an amazing pitcher. Porcello is still having a very good season, despite only having a 3-3 record. The Twins are just dreadful right now. This is the perfect series for the Tigers to get nice and warmed up for interleague play (as well as a three-game series against the Indians next week). Speaking of Interleague Play, make sure to follow @BVTSB on Twitter in time for Sunday’s Tigers-Pirates game at Comerica Park. I will be there doing a live Twitter feed of the game.