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Game 132: Tigers @ Twins

First Pitch: 7:10 PM CDT
Radio: Twins Radio Network

Know Thine Enemy: Bless You Boys

After a 3-4 road trip that saw the Twins lose three painful one run games, the AL Central Division lead stands at an even four games over the Chicago White Sox. With a nine game home stand against Detroit, Texas and Kansas City, the Twins have a chance to put a few nails in the White Sox coffin. But the offense is going to have to wake up if the Twins hope to go on a September tear, as in their last 18 games the Twins have scored a total of 64 runs, 3.5 per game. Fortunately over the same period the pitching staff has given up only 67 runs (11 in one loss in Chicago), to help the Twins post an 11-7 record.

After a terrible late July - early August swoon that saw the Detroit Tigers come out of the All Star Break with only 5 wins in 26 games, the Tigers appear to have righted the ship, winning 11 of their last 18 games (same as the Twins). But the Tigers have struggled all season on the road, with a 22-41 record compared to the Twins stellar 40-22 home record. So anything less than a series win this week will be a disappointment for the Minnesota faithful.

2010 - Brian Duensing 7-2 46 7 1 1 0 0 90.1 74 23 22 7 20 53 2.19 1.04

Since replacing Nick Blackburn in the Twins rotation in late July, Brian Duensing has been lights out, with a 4-1 record and 2.66 ERA in seven starts. Last time out in Texas, the Rangers touched Duensing for two early home runs and 4 runs, but he got into a groove and managed to pitch six innings and give the Twins a chance to come back. My biggest concern with Duensing is that it appears he has been a bit lucky so far this season. He's stranded base runners at a very high 84.7% rate. If this rate were a more average 75%, Duensing would have given up about another 9 runs and his ERA would jump by about a run. Still good, but not in the low 2's. Also, Duensing's BABIP is a very low .249, about 30 points lower than his 15.5% line drive rate would suggest. This is not to say Duensing is a below average pitcher who has been lucky, a FIP of 3.67 and xFIP of 4.01 suggests he's been an above average pitcher. It's just that at some point the All Star numbers will probably regress to the mean. Then again, maybe Duensing is the exception to the rule...

2010 - Armando Galarraga 4-5 18 17 1 1 0 0 104.2 103 49 47 14 33 55 4.04 1.30

Mr. Near Perfect Game has been an enigma for the Tigers for a couple years now. After the blown call cost Galarraga his perfect game in early June, his ERA rose nearly two full points to 4.50 in late June. Since then, he has settled in with ERAs of 3.86 in July and 3.48 so far in August. Run support has been an issue for Galarraga, as he has posted only one win in his last 10 starts, four of which have been quality starts. Galarraga is a classic fastball (low 90's) - slider - changeup pitcher, and according to Fangraphs his changeup (which he throws about 10% of the time) is his best pitch. Like Duensing, Galarraga's ERA has outperformed his FIP (4.82) and xFIP (5.17), so hopefully tonight will be the start of a correction. In one start this year against the Twins, in late June at Target Field, Minnesota pounded him for 7 hits and 6 runs over 4 innings in an 11-4 victory.

Lineups are posted after the jump. Enjoy the evening.


Detroit Tigers @ Minnesota Twins

08/31/10 8:10 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers Minnesota Twins
Austin Jackson - CF Denard Span - CF
Will Rhymes - 2B Orlando Hudson - 2B
Ryan Raburn - LF Joe Mauer - C
Miguel Cabrera - 1B Jason Kubel - RF
Jhonny Peralta - SS Michael Cuddyer - 1B
Brandon Inge - 3B Delmon Young - DH
Johnny Damon - DH Danny Valencia - 3B
Casper Wells - RF Jason Repko - LF
Alex Avila - C J.J. Hardy - SS