Detroit Tigers (91-66) at Minnesota Twins (66-90)
Time/Place: 8:10 p.m., Target Field
SB Nation blog: Twinkie Town
Pitching Matchup: RHP Doug Fister (13-9, 3.71 ERA) vs. LHP Scott Diamond (6-11, 5.54 ERA)
Scott Diamond has 46 strikeouts this season. In 22 starts. Nine of those strikeouts have come in three starts against the Tigers, well above his average of 2.1 per start. If he strikes out five tonight, someone deserves to be fired.
Of course, Diamond's low strikeout total isn't helped by the fact that he's averaging just 5 1/3 innings per start, well below the 6 1/3 innings per outing he averaged last season. His longest outing of the season was a seven inning effort in which he allowed just three hits against the Boston Red Sox. The low inning totals are partially explained by his low pitch counts: he has only hit triple digits in three outings this season.
Diamond has only made two big league starts since spending a month down at Triple-A Rochester. He has allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 11 innings in those two starts with four walks to just one strikeout. Down in the minors, Diamond was 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in six starts.
Next to Diamond, Fister's 6.75 strikeouts per nine innings make him look like Craig Kimbrel. Compared to everyone else, however, Fister has been a ground ball machine. He is third in the American League with a 54.5% ground ball rate. He has been no different against the Twins this year, inducing 22 ground balls in two starts against them. The Twins have scored five runs on just 10 hits in 14 2/3 innings against Fister this year.
Diamond owned the Tigers in 2012, allowing just six runs (five earned) in 21 innings. He has already allowed nine runs in 17 1/3 innings against the Tigers this season, and his overall numbers haven't been any better. Meanwhile, Fister has held the Twins to a 3.14 ERA and 4.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio throughout his career. If the Tigers give him some run support -- despite the great numbers, he has a 4-7 record against Minnesota -- then we may be popping champagne before the night is over.
The Tigers win, but the celebration is put on hold for another night after the Indians' fifth straight victory.