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Game 109: Twins at Tigers

Carl Pavano (9-8, 5.37) vs. Justin Verlander (12-5, 3.29), 7:05 p.m. EST

After scoring 21 runs in their last three games, can the Tigers keep the run parade moving tonight against the Twins? Or will the pitcher who's become a baffling nemesis for them throw up yet another road block?

If you haven't been following the latest MLB transaction news over the past 36 hours, tonight's starting pitcher for Minnesota is not a typo. Carl Pavano is indeed now with the Twins, who acquired him from Cleveland yesterday for a player to be named later (after claiming him on waivers). They didn't waste any time in adding him to their starting rotation, either, pushing Glen Perkins to the bullpen, and making sure their newest starter could pitch against the team he's owned this season. (And really, how annoying is that?)

Pavano has faced the Tigers three times this season, twice at Comerica Park, and has held them to four runs in 15.1 innings. That's given him a 3-0 record and 1.93 ERA versus Detroit. However, the opposing pitcher in each of those starts was Armando Galarraga. It's a little bit different tonight.

Justin Verlander got off to a rough start on Monday vs. the Orioles, giving up five runs in the first inning and sending loads of Tigers fans (at least those not in attendance at the CoPa) off to find something else to do with their evening. (Seriously, that GameThread cleared out like someone yelled "Fire!" or excreted some sort of gas.) Verlander put up a wall after that, however, keeping the O's off the board and giving his team a chance to catch up, and eventually win, walk-off style.

When Verlander last faced the Twins, he had the good stuff, striking out 13 batters. But throwing all those pitches took him out of the game in the seventh inning. From there, the Tigers' bullpen squandered a 5-0 lead in one of the most frustrating losses of the season.

So will we see Alex Avila in the lineup this evening? The initial plan, as stated, was for him to catch Rick Porcello and Armando Galarraga. That would make it Gerald Laird's turn at catcher tonight. But can the Tigers afford to take his bat out of the lineup? Especially against Pavano? (Right-handers actually hit better against him, however.)