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Game 45 Preview: Tigers at Twins

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April 22, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak (51) throws a pitch in the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
April 22, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak (51) throws a pitch in the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (20-24) at Minnesota Twins (15-29)

Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., Target Field

SB Nation Blog: Twinkie Town

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

Pitching Matchup: Drew Smyly (1-1, 2.89 ERA) vs. Anthony Swarzak (0-3, 4.73 ERA)

Swarzak is a 26-year old righthander making his 13th appearance of 2012, but only his fourth start. He started the season in the rotation, picking up all three of his losses in his first three starts. After a brutal outing -- 2 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER -- against the New York Yankees, he was moved to the bullpen, where he had a 3.06 ERA in 17 2/3 innings.

Swarzak has a career 7.62 ERA in 13 innings against the Tigers, but this is largely due to a horrible outing in 2009 where he only lasted one inning after giving up 7 runs. Last season, he gave up 4 runs in 12 innings against Detroit. He also isn't above making dirty references to the Fox Sports North girls on Twitter.

OK, so it was actually a discussion about pancakes, but that doesn't make for good headlines.

Smyly's last two starts have seem him fall back to earth a bit. After earning quality starts in five consecutive outings, he has allowed four earned runs in each of his past two starts. While the Twins' offense has been hot lately (more on that below), they haven't seen Smyly yet, which seems to do the trick for most teams. Since Andrew McCutchen is unlikely to be in the Twins' lineup tonight, I have faith that we'll see a better effort out of Smyly tonight.

Stat to hopefully back people off the ledge

The Tigers are just 5-16 in Cleveland since the start of 2010. I'm beginning to think that Progressive Field is the new Metrodome.

Random nice statement about Minneapolis in general

I was there last October and had a blast. If you ever get the chance to be there and it's not winter, you should go.

Pitch around Joe Mauer. Pitch around Joe Mauer. For the love of all things happy, pitch around Joe Mauer.

Since the 2-game series these teams played last week, the Twins offense has exploded. In the 6 games they have played since leaving Detroit, the Twins have scored 37 runs. Joe Mauer is hitting .372 over the past two weeks and .533 over the past seven days, bringing his season average up to a Mauer-esque .301. He has one home run and only 5 RBIs during this two week period, but is still looking like the old Joe Mauer. I would be perfectly fine with putting him on first base each and every time he comes to the plate.

Outlook

I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those weird games that we see all too often when the Tigers and Twins face off. The Twins are coming off of a wild, back-and-forth 11-8 loss to the Chicago White Sox and got into Minneapolis much later than the Tigers did, so we might see some tired legs from them this evening. Opponents have a .193 batting average against Smyly this season when the Tigers are on the road, and I would like to see that trend continue this evening.

Prediction

Smyly picks up career win #2 with a strong effort this evening.