Know Thine Enemy: Bless You Boys
Detroit visits Minnesota for the first of a three-game set at Target Field. If you hadn't been checking the standings, the Tigers are just a half-game back - a loss tonight, and the Twins will be in second place for the first time since April 11.
About the Tigers
Detroit has won ten of their last 15 overall, but just four of their last 14 road games. Look out for rookie left fielder Brennan Boesch, whom you may remember from the last Detroit trip to town, when Boesch hit a ball about four hundred feet into the right-field upper deck, a place that the Twins' sluggers can't seem to reach. Boesch has homered eight times in June and is hitting .351 in that span.
You may hear less, however, about center fielder Austin Jackson than you did during Detroit's early-May visit. At the time, Jackson was hitting .370, and was more or less impossible to get out. Since he left Minnesota, he's batting .243 and has struck out more than once every four plate appearances. His average is down to .302, he's hitting just .210 in June, and he missed five games with a lower-back strain.
|2010 - Jeremy Bonderman||3-5||14||13||0||0||0||0||81.1||80||42||38||8||21||62||4.20||1.24|
You might remember Jeremy Bonderman's last outing against the Twins. He came on in relief last October, hit Delmon Young, and earned himself a three-game suspension - but you'll remember it for Young nearly charging his own dugout to beat up Jose Mijares, who had earned the Tigers' enmity by throwing behind a hitter in an 8-2 game. Afterward, Ron Gardenhire came out and apologized to the Tigers for Mijares's stupidity. Ah, pennant-race baseball, eh?
Anyway, Bonderman's coming off a decent start against New York; he lost, but needed just 70 pitches to get into the seventh inning. You may remember that Bonderman missed much of 2008 due to a blood clot, and much of 2009 due to recurring shoulder pain, but he's back in the rotation this year - somewhat transformed from the power pitcher of his youth into more of a finesse guy. He'll still strike batters out - 6.9 per nine innings - but he may not whiff 200+ batters again, like he did in 2006.
|2010 - Francisco Liriano||6-5||14||14||0||0||0||0||92.2||88||32||32||2||25||100||3.11||1.22|
Liriano has done well against the Tigers - three wins in his last four starts against them, with a 2.15 ERA in that span. Back in April, he struck out ten and tossed eight scoreless innings in Detroit, perhaps his best start of the year. Thanks to the need for a pinch-hitter, "The Franchise" lasted just five innings in his last start against Milwaukee, giving up three runs and taking the loss (though he did strike out seven).
... will likely be in the comments quite soon, I would think.