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Game 94: Twins (53-41) at Tigers (46-47)

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Nick Blackburn (7-4, 3.72) vs. Justin Verlander (6-9, 4.24)

Before this series began, the Twins beat writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, La Velle E. Neal, posted a preview on his blog. And one of his readers left the following comment:

the last two times the twins have faced the tigers, they have been “red hot” and “ready to make a charge for the top of the division”. and what did the twins do both times? shut em down.

Of course, my immediate response was, "Yeah, we'll see about that, buddy." But the dude got it right. The Twins are making him look pretty smart right now.

If momentum is today's starting pitcher, maybe the Tigers have something on their side this afternoon. Justin Verlander hasn't allowed more than two runs in six straight starts. And after a rough first inning against the Indians in his last outing, Verlander pitched no-hit baseball for his next six innings. However, he hasn't beaten the Twins this season, despite a 3.21 ERA in those two appearances.

But the Twins not only have actual momentum from winning the first three games of this series, but Nick Blackburn has pitched well in his last two starts. And in one of those outings, he shut out the Tigers for seven innings, allowing just three hits. Detroit got to Blackburn in his previous start against them, however, tagging him for four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

So how about going into the All-Star break on just a little bit of a high note with one win? Or going into baseball's three-day recess (four for most other MLB teams) with a .500 record? Is that too much to ask for? Holy lowered expectations, Batman!

I'll be at the ballgame today, reveling with the Mike McClary birthday bash, so won't be able to participate in the GameThread. Hopefully, some Vernors will be on tap, and we can push some of those good vibes onto the field.