Minnesota Twins (33-45) at Detroit Tigers (39-40)
Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: Twinkie Town
Pitching Matchup: Liam Hendriks (0-5, 6.82 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (1-5, 3.91 ERA)
Hendriks somewhat epitomizes the Twins' entire season so far: awful. He has two quality starts on the season and his team has only won one of the 7 games that he has started. He held the Chicago White Sox in check in his last start, only to be let down by his offense in a 3-2 loss. To be fair though, he has been bludgeoned by some pretty good offenses and his xFIP is a respectable 4.20 due to a home run/fly ball rate pushing 25%. In fact, he has given up at least one home run in every start.
Part of me wants to overlook Fister's last start due to the fact that the Texas Rangers are really good, but part of me wonders if he's still having some lingering effects of the injury that has sidelined him twice already this season. On the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast during his last start, Rod Allen talked about how Fister was working on getting over the top of the baseball during his pitching motion instead of dropping down to a lower arm angle. Whether he was able to do this against Texas or not, the results weren't there. If this turns out to be a mechanical issue, I'd like to think that pitching coach Jeff Jones will be able to fix Fister as quickly as he was able to turn around Max Scherzer earlier this year.
The Twins actually have a 18-13 record since getting swept by the Tigers at Target Field in May. They are coming into Detroit sitting on a 3 game winning streak and are inching closer to 4th place by the day. Tiger killer Trevor Plouffe put on a laser show in June, hitting at a .327/.391/.735 clip with 11 home runs and 21 RBIs. He continued his tear by hitting two home runs yesterday in a 10-8 Twins win. Francisco Liriano is actually pitching well, but started yesterday and won't pitch against the Tigers in this series. Joe Mauer is back to being Joe Mauer, Denard Span will probably continue to torture us, and Darin Mastroianni just sounds like a name we're going to hate by Thursday afternoon.
Simply put, there's no reason why Hendriks should last more than 4 innings. The Tigers offense seemed to heat up during their road trip, scoring 40 runs in the 7 games against Texas and Tampa Bay. They even gave Fister plenty of run support in his last start, only to have him pitch his worst game so far as a Tiger. If Fister pitches well and Detroit still loses tonight's game, I will be severely disappointed.
Fister picks up his second win of the season with a bounce-back performance.