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Game 27: Twins (17-9) vs Tigers (16-11)

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First Pitch: 7:10 PM
TV: FSN
Radio: Twins Radio Network
Know Thine Enemy: Bless You Boys

With Joe Mauer out week-to-week with a bruised heel, the Twins offense has exploded the past two games, scoring 18 runs with 32 hits combined in 8-3 and 10-4 wins over the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers, respectively. One reason for this explosion is the emergence of Twinkie Town's #3 prospect, catcher Wilson Ramos, who is a combined 7 for 9 with three doubles, producing +3.19 runs offensively by my metrics over his first two games as a major leaguer. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. While Ramos' hot start has been a vast improvement at the plate over Drew Butera (-2.97 runs produced, 0-5 with 2 GIDP in Saturday's 5-4 loss in Cleveland), we should not expect Mauer level production from him. But something at or above MLB average would be a nice surprise if Mauer is slow to heal.

Starting pitchers, notes and lineups follow after the jump.

Lineups


Lineup

Detroit Tigers @ Minnesota Twins

05/04/10 8:10 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers Minnesota Twins
Austin Jackson - CF Denard Span - CF
Johnny Damon - DH Orlando Hudson - 2B
Magglio Ordonez - RF Justin Morneau - 1B
Miguel Cabrera - 1B Jim Thome - DH
Brennan Boesch - LF Michael Cuddyer - RF
Brandon Inge - 3B Delmon Young - LF
Scott Sizemore - 2B J.J. Hardy - SS
Gerald Laird - C Wilson Ramos - C
Adam Everett - SS Nick Punto - 3B

Starting Pitchers


Nick Blackburn

#53 / Pitcher / Minnesota Twins

6-4

225

R

R

Feb 24, 1982



W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Nick Blackburn 1-1 4 4 0 0 0 0 23.2 33 19 18 6 8 7 6.85 1.73

Nick Blackburn is expected to make his first start since being placed on the family medical emergency list last Friday. He has struggled the past couple weeks with a lingering elbow / forearm issue, and the Twins hope the extra rest (it's been nine days since his last start) will help him bounce back from two straight poor outings (11 runs and 17 hits allowed in 9.1 innings). However, thanks to the improved offense so far this season, the Twins have won both of Blackburn's last two starts. Here's hoping for a solid start and a win tonight against the Tigers, against whom he is 2-2 with a 3.23 ERA in six career starts.


Dontrelle Willis

#21 / Pitcher / Detroit Tigers

6-4

225

L

L

Jan 12, 1982



W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Dontrelle Willis 1-1 5 4 0 0 0 0 24.0 25 10 10 2 12 15 3.75 1.54

Dontrelle Willis is coming off his best start of the season, shutting out the Twins over six innings of four hit ball, walking two and striking out six. But considering that Willis has posted WHIPs of 1.42, 1.60, 2.21 and 1.93 the past four seasons, consider me skeptical about whether Dontrelle has finally turned his career around. Looking at Willis' peripherals, his BABIP isn't abnormally low (.304), but he's stranding a lot of base runners (79.6%) and 15 strikeouts versus 12 walks isn't very good. Last time out, Willis faced a Twins lineup that included Drew Butera (-0.58 runs) and Jim Thome (-0.97 runs) / Delmon Young (-1.16 runs) instead of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau (Michael Cuddyer played 1B). Tonight, we'll probably see Ramos catching, Morneau at first, and Young in LF (Kubel or Thome DH), a much better lineup than last go round.

Notes:

  • Orlando Hudson is in the middle of a 10 game hitting streak in which he has gone 18 for 48 (.375) with 7 RBI.
  • According to LEN III, the Twins intend to go with a six man bullpen until Mauer returns and Ramos is sent back to Rochester.
  • The Twins have a roster decision to make in order to clear a spot for Blackburn's return from the family medical emergency list. Jeff Manship will probably be sent down to AAA, but the Twins wanted to wait until tonight to make a roster decision.
  • The Twins .358 team wOBA is the third highest in the major leagues, behind the Yankees (.365) and Brewers (.361). This is driven by the Twins major league best .365 OBP and 124 walks, but the Twins .442 slugging percentage is fourth best in the AL behind Boston, New York and Toronto.
  • On an unrelated note, the Twins have grounded into a major league high 33 double plays.