Johan Santana (8-6, 2.83) vs. Justin Verlander (9-2, 2.78), 7:05 p.m. EST
You know, I've typed and yapped a lot about these pitching match-ups this season, but occasionally, one comes up that almost transcends explanation or documentation. What are we talking about here? Last year's (and 2004's) Cy Young Award winner vs. the guy who could win it this year, if he keeps pitching as he has? Yeah, that should be a good one. I think I'll watch it.
By the way, whomever's in control of the weather must be a baseball fan too, because it was Wednesday's rainout that pushed the Tigers' rotation back a day, thus creating this clash of pitching titans. Plus, the weather should be fantastic tonight at Comerica Park, as it's been sunny and pleasant all day in Detroit.
Santana's won-loss record isn't as sparkling as it's been in past years, but he's been close to his typically dominant self in his last four starts. If you call Santana "close to dominant" over a four-start span, however, what would you call Verlander? The man's allowed four total runs in that span. And his performance last Saturday in Atlanta might have been his best start besides his no-hitter, as he struck out 11 and allowed only Chipper Jones' solo home run in seven innings. This will be Verlander's first start at home since that no-hitter.
One last pitching note: The Twins called up hot-shot prospect Matt Garza after yesterday's game. In 92 innings at Triple-A Rochester, he's racked up 95 strikeouts. He won't start in this series, but could come out of the bullpen.
Your SB Nation opposing view for this series is provided by Twinkie Town. (If you're a fan of The Office, you might enjoy this post.)
UPDATE: As expected, the Tigers placed Tim Byrdak on the 15-day disabled list to make room for Zach Miner. Byrdak's injury is listed as a weak flexor tendon near his pitching elbow.