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Twins vs Tigers: Series preview

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It's a little early to say that things have come full circle. But if you want to bookend the first fifth of the season, a set against the Tigers is the way to do it.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

A long time ago in a series weeks and weeks away, the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins faced off to open the 2015 baseball season. The Tigers were older but clearly the better team; Minnesota had chosen to field veterans over younger, more promising options. It was a big test for the Twins to begin the season.

Detroit mopped the floor with the Twins. If one baseball team could give another baseball team an atomic wedgie, or if one baseball team could give another team a swirly, that's what the Tigers did to Minnesota as they swept the Twins and outscored them 22-1.

Since that time, things have changed. Detroit has gone 16-13; Minnesota 18-11. And that tells you all you need to know about how well each of the clubs have played. That pesky three-game sweep to start the season means that the Twins are one game out of second place.

Game 1 preview

First pitch: 6:08pm CDT
Probable pitchers: Kyle Gibson (RHP) vs Alfredo Simon (RHP)

  • Gibson's nemesis: Miguel Cabrera (1.250 OPS, 12 AB), J.D. Martinez (1.181 OPS, 14 AB), Ian Kinsler (1.100 OPS, 15 AB)
  • Gibson's target: Nick Castellanos (.220 OPS, 13 AB)
  • No Twins batter has had more than seven at-bats versus Simon, although Kurt Suzuki is 3-for-7 against him with two home runs
  • Kyle Gibson hasn't allowed a run this month
  • Trevor Plouffe will be back for this series

Game 2 preview

First pitch: 6:08pm CDT
Probable pitchers: Ricky Nolasco (RHP) vs Kyle Lobstein (LHP)

  • Nolasco's nemesis: Ian Kinsler (1.071 OPS, 14 AB)
  • Nolasco's target: J.D. Martinez (.516 OPS, 13 AB)
  • No Twins batter has had more than five at-bats versus Lobstein
  • Lobstein has lasted at least seven innings in each of his last three starts
  • Hitters on the Tigers have posted a combined .853 OPS against Nolasco, but oddly enough it wasn't all because of how Detroit fared against him in 2014 - Nolasco actually held the Tigers to a .683 OPS against last year

Game 3 preview

First pitch: 12:08pm CDT
Probable pitchers: Mike Pelfrey (RHP) vs Anibal Sanchez (RHP)

  • Pelfrey's nemesis: Yoenis Cespedes (1.250 OPS, 8 AB)
  • Pelfrey's target: Miguel Cabrera (.617 OPS, 23 AB), Victor Martinez (.586 OPS, 20 AB)
  • Sanchez's nemesis: Danny Santana (.909 OPS, 11 AB)
  • Sanchez's target: Everyone else...seriously, that stat line is like a grave yard for Twins hitters
  • Neither Pelfrey nor Sanchez have pitched like we could have expected this year - which is great for Minnesota but not so much for Detroit
All things considered, or at least having considered the things I'm comfortable considering, I'm calling a series win. Anyone else feeling optimistic tonight?