Minnesota Twins (55-69) at Detroit Tigers (73-52)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Twinkie Town
Pitching Matchup: RHP Kevin Correia (8-9, 4.61 ERA) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (11-7, 2.50 ERA)
Correia has lived up to his billing in his first year as a Twin, eating innings while allowing an ERA in the mid-fours. Like most Twins pitchers in the last decade, he has embraced their pitch-to-contact philosophy, walking just 2.11 batters per nine innings. Unfortunately for him, that same philosophy has led to a 22.8% line drive rate, .318 BABIP, and 1.34 home runs allowed per nine innings. His only saving grace this season has been a 75.2% strand rate. He is allowing a .733 OPS with men on base compared to an .877 OPS with the bases empty.
While his overall season has largely gone as advertised, the second half hasn't been kind to Correia. In five starts since the break, he is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.83 WHIP. However, this is largely an issue created by the small sample size. He didn't even make it to the third inning in two of those starts, but also posted two quality starts with 10 combined strikeouts to zero walks.
In his only start against the Tigers this season -- a 3-2 Twins victory on April 3rd -- Correia used his changeup very aggressively despite facing a lineup with only four left-handed hitters. Of his 97 pitches, 22 were changeups, 11 of which went for strikes. Correia allowed two runs in seven innings that day, part of an April where he allowed a 2.23 ERA in five starts. Changeup or not, something was working. Expect a heavier diet of fastballs tonight, though. He has only thrown his changeup 3% of the time against right-handers this season.
The last time Sanchez faced the Twins at Comerica Park, Joe Mauer sent everyone home on a sour note when he broke up Sanchez's no-hit bid in the ninth inning. It was the second of three outings this season in which Sanchez has struck out at least 11 hitters. He faced the Twins in one start after that, allowing two runs in 3 2/3 innings before leaving with the shoulder soreness that landed him on the disabled list for a month.
Lefties have hit a scalding .322/.368/.500 with nine homers off Correia this season, but unless Don Kelly or Ramon Santiago get a spot start, the Tigers will likely only field three left-handed hitters tonight after Brayan Pena's injury. Despite the platoon disadvantage, the Tigers probably won't need to scratch across too many runs tonight. Sanchez has been absolutely dominant at home this season, allowing a .527 OPS and 1.98 ERA to opposing teams at Comerica Park.
The Tigers even the series despite some late inning bullpen hijinx.