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Game 81: Tigers at Twins

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Rick Porcello (8-5, 3.90) vs. Nick Blackburn (6-4, 3.10), 2:10 p.m. EST

And so we've arrived at the halfway point of the 2009 season. The Tigers will return to Detroit still in first place, which might be seen as a victory in itself among many in Tiger Town. But can they also leave Minneapolis with a series win?

For the Twins, Nick Blackburn has lost his past two starts, giving up 21 hits in 14 innings. Yet he somehow allowed only five earned runs in those two games, extending a streak in which he's given up three runs or fewer to eight games. In his last start against the Tigers, however, Blackburn allowed several more runs than that. At Comerica Park in early May, he was roughed up for six runs and nine hits in just 3.1 innings. Blackburn has yet to lose at home this season, posting a 3-0 record and 2.61 ERA in six starts.

In his last start, Rick Porcello pitched one of the worst games of his rookie season, giving up nine hits in just 4.1 innings versus Oakland. That was the highest number of hits he's allowed since his debut in Toronto, in the second shortest of his 15 starts this season. Porcello's best start of the year, however, came against these Minnesota Twins in that early May series at Detroit. In seven innings, he held the Twins scoreless, allowing only four hits. On the road this year, he's 5-3 with 3.72 ERA in eight starts.

Miguel Cabrera has a .444/.444/.889 batting line against Blackburn, with one homer and six RBIs in nine at-bats. (The Tigers' next best hitter vs. Blackburn is in Toledo, with Clete Thomas batting .500/.500/1.083 with one homer and four RBIs.) Both Brandon Inge and Marcus Thames are 0-for-7.