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Game 159 Preview: Twins at Tigers

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The Tigers kick off their final series of the season tonight against the Minnesota Twins.

Tasos Katopodis

Minnesota Twins (68-90) at Detroit Tigers (88-70)

Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation blog: Twinkie Town

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB Network, MLB.TVTigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Trevor May (3-5, 8.39 ERA) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (17-5, 3.19 ERA)

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
May 8 39.2 8.39 4.76 1.13 1.89 4.64 4.41 0.2
Scherzer 32 214.1 10.20 2.48 0.76 1.17 2.86 2.96 5.4

Trevor May got called up to the majors at the beginning of August after throwing 98 1/3 dominant innings in Triple A. That dominance stopped once he got to The Show. May allowed a 10.42 ERA in his first five outings, only making it through the fifth inning one time. That start came against the Tigers on August 23rd, and May still allowed five runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings. The command issues that May had previously corralled in the minor leagues were a major factor at the MLB level. He had 15 strikeouts and 14 walks in his first 19 innings, contributing to an abysmal 2.32 WHIP.

Things got better when the calendar switched over to September. Well, until his last start, that is. May gave up seven runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians five days ago, his fifth loss of the season. Prior to that, he had put together three consecutive solid outings, all wins. May tossed a combined 16 innings in those three starts, allowing a 4.50 ERA. He had 19 strikeouts to just five walks during that span, including a 10 strikeout performance against the Chicago White Sox on September 14th. While his 6.53 September ERA doesn't show much improvement, his 3.90 FIP this month indicates that May is starting to come around.

Max Scherzer looked like his usual self in his last outing, striking out six batters while allowing a single run in seven innings. He out-dueled James Shields in one of the team's most important wins of the season to date, though received a little help from Salvador Perez's baserunning in the bottom of the sixth inning. However, Scherzer's ability to get through the seventh after allowing a baserunner was more impressive, especially given the rotation's propensity for allowing big innings in recent weeks.

Hitter to fear: Danny Santana (.444/.444/.667 in 9 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Brian Dozier (.133/.278/.333 in 18 plate appearances)

Danny Santana has absolutely owned the Tigers this season, hitting .386/.426/.614 with eight extra base hits and 12 RBI in 61 plate appearances. This is by far the best slash line that the 23 year old Dominican has against any of the Twins' four AL Central opponents, making it all the more frustrating that the Tigers have struggled against him. Part of this has been the story of 2014, though. The Twins have scored 94 runs in 15 games against the Tigers this season and are hitting .291/.369/.452 as a team.

Outlook

For whatever reason, the Twins' offense has had no problem scoring runs off the Tigers and their pitching staff. Even if you remove the 32 runs that they scored in two games against rookie starting pitchers, the Twins are still putting up a healthy 4.7 runs per game in 13 contests with the Tigers. Scherzer has not been immune to the Twins-related struggles, but the Tigers have won all three of his starts against Minnesota in 2014. Expect the Tigers to make it a perfect 4-0 tonight, but not without the same chaos we've seen in the first 15 meetings this year.

Prediction

The Tigers win in walk-off fashion.