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Game 69 Preview: Cardinals at Tigers

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Mar. 7, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jacob Turner (50) pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Mar. 7, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jacob Turner (50) pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

St. Louis Cardinals (35-34) at Detroit Tigers (33-35)

Time/Place: 1:00 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: Viva El Birdos

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV (Free Game of the Day), Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Kyle Lohse (6-2, 2.98 ERA) vs. Jacob Turner (0-1, 8.53 ERA in 2011)

Like his rotation partner Lance Lynn, Lohse has been very good in 2012. He is building on the success that he had in 2011, driving his walk rate down to an absurdly low 1.44 per 9 innings. His home run rate is also low at 7.4%, but this is in line with what he has done in his last 2+ seasons with the Cardinals. He doesn't strike very many batters out -- just 5.13 per 9 innings.

Amazingly, Lohse has been even better so far in the month of June. He allowed just 1 run in 13 2/3 innings in his first two starts of the month, but took the loss in his last start against the Kansas City Royals. He allowed 10 hits in 7 innings, but like Rick Porcello last night, many of these were softly hit balls that found holes in the defense. The Royals also took advantage of some suspect Cardinals defense with a couple of bunt singles. Lohse took the loss despite giving up just 3 runs in 7 innings of work.

Turner has rebounded from the shoulder problems that sidelined him in Spring Training to post some decent numbers at AAA Toledo. Here's what Patrick/Tigerdog had to say about Turner last weekend.

In Advanced-A Lakeland, he made four starts, posting an ERA of 1.66 while allowing opponents a .218 average. In seven more starts for Triple-A Toledo, Turner has an ERA of 3.43, allowing 34 hits, 27 strikeouts and 19 walks in 41 innings. He has held opposing hitters to a .227 average with an impressive ground ball to fly ball ratio of 1.72. He has allowed just one run in each of his last three starts for the Mud Hens.

Expect the Cardinals to test Turner by running at any chance they get today. By now, we're all well aware at how much he's struggled to hold runners during his time in the big leagues last season.

Outlook

Of course, I will be at work during Turner's season debut. Complaints aside, it would be much nicer if Turner were making this start after a win. With how well Lohse has pitched this season, I'm not sure the Tigers will be able to keep up with the Cardinals offense today unless Turner exceeds our wildest expectations. I think we will probably see something around his debut last season: 5+ innings, 4-5 runs, and half a dozen strikeouts. If the offense can deliver a W in the process, it would make for a great springboard into this weekend's series against the Pittsburgh Pirates

Prediction

"Alien spacecraft crash lands in 5th inning, beginning global war for human survival" [h/t MakeItTrizzle]

Gameday Reading:

Tough grind for Holliday - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joe Strauss
Naturally, Matt Holliday has seemed to find his groove against the Tigers.

Chris Carpenter Reincarnates Lifeless Jake Westbrook, Dominates Tigers for 9 Merciless Innings - Walkoff Woodward, Rob Rogacki
Clearly, this is the only explanation as to why we were shut down by Jake Westbrook last night.