Minnesota Twins (63-89) at Detroit Tigers (80-71)
Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: Twinkie Town
Media: Fox Sports Detroit*, Tigers Radio Network
Note: From what I understand, MLB.TV will be blacked out due to ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.
Pitching Matchup: RHP P.J. Walters (2-4, 6.39 ERA) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (4-3, 4.45 ERA)
Walters' last six starts -- three in June and three in September -- have been a far cry from the guy that allowed 5 runs in 12 1/3 innings to the Tigers in two May starts. Since facing Detroit on May 27th, Walters has an ERA of 10.41 while allowing an OPS of 1.008. Basically, he is making everyone look like Miguel Cabrera. There's really no sugarcoating it: the Tigers should hit him, and hit him hard. Whether they will actually do this or not is the enigma that has been the 2012 Detroit Tigers.
Bullpen work hasn't really been Smyly's forte over the last month. In 3 2/3 innings of relief, he has an ERA of 9.82 and only has one scoreless outing to his name. His control has been an issue as well. However, none of that matters tonight, as Smyly is back on the mound as a starter, in which he has an ERA of 4.22 and is striking out more than three times as many batters has he is walking. I'm not sure how long Jim Leyland will leave him in the game though. Expect 5 innings tops, unless he puts on a Doug Fister-like display of efficiency. He will probably only get 60-80 pitches to work with.
After a poor showing by the offense and bullpen in this afternoon's game, both units will need to step up big in this game. Losing two of three to the Twins at this point would be awful, even if the Tigers still pick up a game on the Chicago White Sox. The division should be tied by the end of the night.
Smyly gets through 5 innings and is rewarded with win #5 on the season.