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Game 46 Preview: Tigers at Twins

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No, that mustache is not photoshopped
No, that mustache is not photoshopped

Detroit Tigers (21-24) at Minnesota Twins (15-30)

Time/Place: 2:00 p.m., Target Field

SB Nation Blog: Twinkie Town

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

Pitching Matchup: Max Scherzer (3-3, 5.73 ERA) vs. Carl Pavano (2-3, 4.91 ERA)

I know what you're thinking, and yes, Pavano is still sporting that creepy Wario mustache that he had last season. He's also pitching like he did last season, which is to say not well. He is continuing to pound the strike zone, walking just 1.15 batters per 9 innings pitched. This is a very good thing for a Tigers lineup who, as we all know, collectively loves to swing at strikes early in the count. Still, it would be nice to see the Tigers work Pavano's pitch count. He's been experiencing some shoulder soreness lately and hasn't thrown more than 86 pitches since the end of April. Don't be surprised if he approaches 100 today though.

Pavano's last start was one of his best of the 2012 season. He breezed through the Milwaukee Brewers lineup the first time through, then got into trouble with the top of the Brewers' order the second and third time through. Even then, his line -- 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 6 K, 1 BB -- was pretty solid.

Other than his bad start against the Chicago White Sox two weeks ago, Scherzer has been pretty good in the month of May. He's 2-0 with a 3.70 ERA and has 36 strikeouts in 24 innings. He's also improved his control, walking just 6 batters in this span. I'm willing to blame the Chicago start on familiarity -- this was the game that we got to Jake Peavy too, remember -- and say that Scherzer has made some serious adjustments with pitching coach Jeff Jones. If Scherzer is on again today, Jones deserves a raise.

The other 'M'

Last night, Rod Allen repeatedly asserted that both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were finally healthy. While I wasn't doubting the Mauer half of that equation, I wasn't quite certain that Morneau is back to his pre-injury form of the mid-2000s. He's only 31, so there's no reason to expect any sort of age-related decline from him just yet. At first glance, Rod looked to be correct: Morneau is hitting .290 since coming off of the disabled list. However, take away his 3-hit, 2-homer game on Thursday against the White Sox, and Morneau was hitting a pedestrian .231 in 7 games leading up to this series. I'm not so sure he's quite back yet.

One caveat to my theory: Morneau is 3 for 5 in his career against Scherzer with two home runs.

Outlook

This one could go one of two ways. Pavano is going to pitch to contact and we will see (a) a lot of bad luck where the Tigers hit plenty of hard shots right at Twins fielders, (b) a repeat of last night, or (c) something in the middle. I would encourage those of you readers who can actually be reasoned with to not get discouraged if the Tigers only score 3 runs today, but instead focus on how our hitters look at the plate after last night's outburst. Are they hitting the ball hard? Is Pavano getting late movement on his pitches? Things like that.

On the other side, hope that Scherzer continues this good run he's been on recently (his last start against Chicago nonwithstanding). And please, please don't pitch to Joe Mauer.

Prediction

2 in a row.

Gameday Reading:

Anthony Swarzak, Francisco Liriano Make Tigers Look Like Winners - Walkoff Woodward, Josh Worn
"Tonight the Tigers invaded Minnesota and defeated the Terrible Twins by four runs."

Twins Pitching Out-Uglies Tigers Defense in 10-6 Loss - Twinkie Town
"The resistible force (Tigers defense) met the movable object (Twins starting pitching) on Friday night, and the latter gave more, as Anthony Swarzak and Francisco Liriano were battered by the Tigers potent offense in a 10-6 loss."

Justin Morneau finding his groove - Minneapolis Star Tribune, Phil Miller
Clearly, people disagree with me about this Justin Morneau thing.

.gif | Gerald Laird Is Tired and Wants to Go Home - Walkoff Woodward, Rob Rogacki
In case you missed it last night...