Going In, In Brief
Winning two straight against the White Sox has made the Twins (13-14) winners of three out of their last four, which hopefully gives them a nice push into the second month of the season. Finding some sort of offensive consistency is an issue, averaging just 3.8 runs per game. Positively though, Joe Mauer, Carlos Gomez and Justin Morneau have been more effective at the plate recently. Michael Cuddyer is hitting .316/.381/.526 in the five games since his return to the lineup.
Detroit (14-15) is a hot team right now. They swept the Yankees in New York for the first time since 1966, and are on a bit of a streak having won eight of their last 10 contests. They boast the American League's highest-scoring offense (5.2 RPG), lead the AL in both OBP (.356) and SLG (.443), and are second in the AL with 33 home runs. On the plus side, their pitching staff leads all of baseball in walks and carries a relatively hefty 4.85 staff ERA.
Armando Galarraga VS Livan Hernandez
Justin Verlander VS Scott Baker
Kenny Rogers VS Boof Bonser
Armando Galarraga: With three pretty good starts under his belt this year, this 26-year old right hander possesses decent capabilites to strike hitters out while maintaining pretty good control as well. He's been inducing a lot of ground balls, so pitch selection will be important for an aggressive Minnesota offense.
Justin Verlander: Verlander's off to a slow start, with higher walk rates and lower strikeout rates than what we're used to from him. He's only notched one quality start in six opportunities, and he can have trouble throwing strikes at times, so the (again) aggressive Minnesota bats should be patient and work counts. Make Verlander prove that he can throw strikes.
Kenny Rogers: Usually able to hit his spots pretty well, Rogers has walked more guys than he's fanned so far. Like Verlander he's had trouble catching the strike zone at times, especially against right-handed hitters. He turns 44 in June, so it's more than possible he's hit the end of what's been a very good run, but those kinds of guys have a tendency to mop up the Twins. At least it seems like it. Hopefully Young, Cuddyer, Gomez and Harris can come through for the Twins; starting the game with Monroe in the lineup, and then removing him later, might not be a bad strategy here.
Magglio Ordonez: He's following up a career-best '07 pretty well; five homers, eight doubles, nearly a 1-to-1 BB:K ratio and a .923 OPS. Ordonez is proving to be one of the best hitters of the last 10 years, with a career line of .312/.371/.522. He's 34, and he's still incredible.
Curtis Granderson: He's baaa-aaack: .310/.459/.793 in the eight games since his return to Detroit. The surprising part: eight walks, four strikeouts. Even though they've only sent him once (and he was caught), the pitcher will still need to keep a close eye on Granderson. He reminds me a lot of Alfonso Soriano, both in skill set and physical form; if he can develop more patience and better discipline than Soriano, Granderson is looking at one heck of a good career.
Carlos Guillen: Lots of line drives (22%), lots of walks (14.3% walk rate), good ISO (.204). He's a doubles machine so far this season (9), and just another dangerous hitter in the Tiger batting order. He and Miguel Cabrera have flip-flopped playing third and first the last few games.