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Game 116 Preview: Tigers at Twins

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Detroit Tigers (61-54) at Minnesota Twins (49-65)

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

SB Nation Blog: Twinkie Town

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-9, 4.37 ERA) vs. RHP Sam Deduno (3-0, 3.27 ERA)

Deduno is a 29 year old pitcher from the Dominican Republic who pitched briefly for the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres before signing with the Twins last November. He was called up in early July and the six starts that he has made since are the only ones of his career. Needless to say, we don't have much of a sample size to work with here. In 56 career appearances in AAA ball (ranging across three farm systems and four seasons), Deduno was 8-10 with a 3.43 ERA.

Deduno has 25 walks compared to just 22 strikeouts in 33 big league innings this season. He has pitched well, but was knocked around by the Cleveland Indians in his last start, his second against the Indians in a two week span. His ridiculous 21.1% home run rate will go down eventually, but his FIP and xFIP are still both much higher than his ERA, in large part due to a .247 BABIP.

Say what you want, but I'm chalking up Sanchez's struggles so far in a Tigers uniform to the fact that he has faced two very good offenses in his first three starts. I may have some reservations about trying to re-sign him if this continues, but I don't see why Sanchez won't pitch well against the AL Central down the stretch. Sanchez hasn't faced the Twins in his career, and only Josh Willingham has more than a couple of plate appearances against him, with little success (.000/.500/.000 in 12 PAs).

Rant #372 against the fanbase in 2012

Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding this fanbase recently, things are going pretty well. The Tigers may be 2 games back in the division, but they are 24-16 against the AL Central this season and 17-11 since the All-Star Break. While it would have been nice to fare better than 3-4 against the two best teams in the American League -- because God forbid we lose multiple games to the Yankees and Rangers (/sarcasm) -- the Tigers aren't competing against those teams to win the AL Central.

Outlook

For as bad as the Tigers were at the Metrodome, they have been that good at Target Field. Since opening in 2010, the Tigers are 12-9 in Minnesota and 28-17 overall against the Twins. Miguel Cabrera puts up video game numbers in this park, hitting a gargantuan .408/.500/.667 -- yes, that's BA/OBP/SLG -- in 90 career plate appearances at Target Field. While Deduno may give them problems tonight, I think the days of doom in Minnesota are over.

Prediction

Sanchez and the Tigers get back on track with an easy win tonight.