Minnesota Twins (11-12) at Detroit Tigers (16-10)
Time/Place: 1:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Twinkie Town
Pitching Matchup: LHP Scott Diamond (1-2, 4.32 ERA) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-1, 1.34 ERA)
Diamond missed the first two weeks of the season while recovering from offseason elbow surgery, making this the first time that the Tigers have seen him this season. He wasn't very sharp in his last start, allowing 12 hits against the Texas Rangers in 6 1/3 innings. He only allowed three runs, in large part due to some excellent defense behind him. The Twins turned two double plays and threw out two Ranger baserunners at the plate with him on the mound. He still has yet to throw 100 pitches in a start, topping out at 97 pitches in each of his last two appearances.
Diamond was excellent in his three starts against the Tigers last year, allowing five earned runs in 21 1/3 innings. He allowed four of those five runs in two starts at Comerica Park, but worked deep into the game in both outings. His arsenal isn't particularly deep, consisting of just a four-seam fastball, curveball, and changeup. He throws the fastball roughly two-thirds of the time, but does an excellent job of spotting it on the outside half of the plate. He will throw the curveball a lot to both right and left-handed hitters, but uses the changeup exclusively against righties.
Across the diamond, Anibal Sanchez is throwing his changeup to anyone he damn well pleases because it has been flat-out ridiculous in 2013. His changeup has been 4.5 runs above average so far, which is already the third-highest total of his career. He leads the majors in this category, with some guy named Doug Fister currently sitting in second. Opposing hitters are swinging and missing 20% of the time he throws the changeup, which is astounding in itself. However, when hitters choose to swing at said changeup, they are whiffing an astounding 42.9% of the time, putting their contact rate on that pitch at about 57%. By comparison, league-average contact rates sit in the high 70s.
Yeah, it's like that right now.
Last time Sanchez stepped onto a mound, bad things happened
...to the Atlanta Braves.
This is a work of art.
Diamond was able to hold the Tigers in check last season, but he might be the right guy in the wrong place today. The Tigers offense is rolling and he's facing one of the hottest pitchers in baseball right now in Sanchez. Anibal baffled the Twins in his first start, holding them to just two hits in five innings in Minnesota. Sanchez has also taken a liking to Comerica, racking up a 5-2 record and 2.81 ERA in eight career starts in Detroit. Diamond might have to throw a shutout to have a shot at a 'W' today.
The Tigers pick up a second consecutive sweep thanks to another strong outing from Sanchez.