Time/Place: 8:10 p.m., Target Field
SB Nation blog: Twinkie Town
Here's a lesson on disparity: Correia is one of two Twins starters to last the entire 2013 season in the rotation. He leads the rotation in innings pitched and strikeout-to-walk ratio, and ranks second to Samuel Deduno among Twins starters in ERA and WHIP. Other than his ERA being slightly better than Rick Porcello's, Correia would rank outside the top five in nearly every major statistical pitching category in the Tigers' rotation.
To Correia's credit, he's finishing the season just like he started it. Correia finished April with a 2.23 ERA in five starts, including a strong start against the Tigers where he allowed two runs in seven innings. Fast forward to August. After an awful start against the Kansas City Royals, Correia has allowed a 2.94 ERA in 52 innings in his last eight starts. The Twins are just 2-6 in these games though, one of which was a 7-1 loss to the Tigers. Correia allowed four runs (two earned) in 6 2/3 innings. Surprisingly, those outings are his only two starts against the Tigers this season.
On the other end of the spectrum, Max Scherzer had a season-low three strikeouts in his last start against the Chicago White Sox. Max was staked to a seven run lead after the first three innings, however, and didn't need to rely on missing bats to get outs. He was aggressive within the strike zone, throwing 63 strikes in 90 pitches in six innings. If Max can turn in a similar start tonight -- with similar run support, ideally -- then he can get some well-deserved rest before the playoffs.
While the offensive outburst in last night's fourth inning was encouraging, this team seems to be limping to the end of the regular season. Even then, they are still among the best teams in the league in most categories. Despite a drop in runs scored since the calendar turned to September, the Tigers are second in batting average (.283) and fourth in on-base percentage (.337) in the American League this month.
The Tigers have also had at least nine hits in the last six games, dating back to their shutout against the Seattle Mariners last Wednesday. Luckily for them, Kevin Correia gives up boatloads of hits, though he buckles down somewhat with runners on base. If the Tigers can plate a few early runs against him, it should be smooth sailing for Max once again.
Max wins his 21st and the Tigers finally clinch the AL Central.