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Game 31: Tigers (14-16) at Twins (14-14)

Justin Verlander (1-4, 6.50) vs. Scott Baker (2-0, 4.50)

Considering how well the Detroit Tigers have been playing lately, last night's loss might just be a speed bump on their way to overcoming that .500 hurdle and posting the sort of record expected of a playoff contender. Are these 2008 Tigers the sort of team that's going to freak out every time they have a chance to reach or surpass that .500 mark, only to then tumble for a few games and have to pick themselves back up again? Most likely not. And we've seen plenty of that over the years here in Detroit.

In raising his arm slot, Justin Verlander appeared to have better stuff last Sunday against the Angels. Unfortunately, he had one bad inning that was too much to overcome - especially when the Tigers' lineup couldn't do anything against Jered Weaver - and ended up with a loss. Verlander has lost his last two starts against the Twins, giving up nine earned runs in eight innings. However, in his one appearance at the Metrodome (back in 2006), he was dominant, allowing just one run over seven innings.

Verlander will probably have to be that good again, because Scott Baker typically doesn't give up more than three runs against the Tigers. He's already faced Deroit once this season, allowing three runs over seven innings in a no-decision. But if the Twins' bullpen is as generous as it was that night (thank you, Jesse Crain), maybe the Tigers just need to make Baker work enough to get him out of the game after six or seven innings. Baker's start is pushed back from last night, so he could get an extra day of rest for a groin strain that he suffered in his previous start (in which he gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings vs. the Rangers in Texas).

(My arch-enemy Samela has posted a photo from our sad night of watching that 11-1 loss from Buffalo Wild Wings. You can see that - and I apologize in advance for the up-close view of my bleary mug - along with some photos from the Michigan-Ohio State baseball game at Roar of the Tigers.)