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Game 37 Preview: Twins at Tigers

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May 11, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn (53) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
May 11, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn (53) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Minnesota Twins (10-26) at Detroit Tigers (18-18)

Time/Place: Comerica Park, 7:00 p.m.

SB Nation Blog: Twinkie Town

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Rick Porcello (3-3, 5.18 ERA) vs. Nick Blackburn (1-4, 7.18 ERA)

Finally! Tonight we will see a pitcher that doesn't dominate the Tigers on a regular basis. Blackburn has a career ERA of 5.33 against the Tigers and has been knocked around in each of his past three starts against Detroit. His two starts at Comerica Park last season resulted in 10 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings.

Ironically, Blackburn's best start of the season came against the best offense in the American League. He limited the Texas Rangers to two runs -- one of which was an absolute bomb off the bat of Josh Hamilton -- in 5 1/3 innings. Other than that, Blackburn has been serving up a lot of batting practice this season. His HR/FB ratio is 19.4%, well above his career average of 11.6%, but not all that surprising when you consider how that figure has been trending over the past few years.

Porcello seemed to be turning things around after a couple of rough starts against Texas and Seattle in April, but then his rough outing against the Oakland A's happened. Kid Rick has allowed 7 runs in four starts against teams in the AL East and Central, but has given up 18 runs in 3 starts against the AL West. While that last sentence is kind of a joke, Porcello's splits against the Twins are not. He owns a 2.86 ERA in 12 career starts against Minnesota and was 3-1 against them last season.

This could be fun

It's not a stretch to say that the Twins are the worst team in baseball this season. Their win over Ricky Romero and the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday was just their 10th of the season, making the Twins the last team in the majors to reach double digits in that category. The Twins only have two everyday players hitting .270 or better: Joe Mauer and outfielder Josh Willingham -- though shortstop Brian Dozier, a recent call-up, is hitting .297 in his first 9 games in the majors -- and Willingham is the only player on the Twins roster with an OPS above .800. If the Tigers pitch to Willingham, I might light something on fire.

Carl Pavano owns the starting rotation's best ERA... at 5.14 (to be fair, his FIP is a more respectable 4.37). The Twins' bullpen has been a relative strength, posting a 3.65 ERA. By comparison, the Tigers' bullpen ERA is 5.06. Hope for early runs from the Tigers offense because they might be hard to come by later on.

Outlook

This could shape up to be one of those "that's why they play the games" types of nights, because it's completely lopsided on paper. Blackburn can't get the Tigers out, the Twins can't hit Porcello; everything lines up nicely for an easy Tigers win. However, after a number of years of watching Ron Gardenhire's Twins bloop their way to victory after victory over the Tigers, I think that a number of fans are still on red alert anytime these two teams play. Since this game isn't being played in the godforsaken Metrodome, I have faith that the papers will be right.

Prediction

The Tigers end the night above .500.

Gameday Reading:

Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau set to come off disabled list after game against Cleveland Indians - ESPN
"First baseman Justin Morneau will be activated from the disabled list before the Minnesota Twins play Wednesday."

Poll: Where should Mauer play long-term? - Twinkie Town
A decent discussion on which position Joe Mauer should play going forward.

Know Thy Enemy: 2012 Minnesota Twins - DesigNate Robertson
Hey, I finally got one of these posted on time!

Detroit Tigers' Jim Leyland may resort to small-ball tactics to jumpstart offense - MLive, James Schmehl
Nooooooooooo!!!