Minnesota Twins (69-91) at Detroit Tigers (89-71)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Twinkie Town
Pitching Matchup: RHP Ricky Nolasco (5-12, 5.47 ERA) vs. LHP Kyle Lobstein (1-1, 3.38 ERA)
Ricky Nolasco frustrated the living daylights out of the Tigers fanbase 11 days ago, throwing eight shutout innings against the Tigers at Target Field. Nolasco was as good as we have seen him in a Twins uniform, striking out five while walking one and allowing just five hits. Six days later, he allowed five runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who could end the season with 99 losses. The hit-or-miss outings are nothing new for him, though. Since coming off the disabled list in August, he allowed five runs or more on three occasions. He has also held the opposition to one run or fewer in three more starts.
Kyle Lobstein made his major league debut against the Twins on August 23rd, pitching 5 2/3 innings in relief after starter Buck Farmer was removed in the second inning. Lobstein gave up three runs on four hits and four walks during the outing, but the outing still gave the Tigers' brass enough confidence to give him a start five days later. Since then, Lobstein has a 3.10 ERA and 3.92 FIP in five starts. He suffered his first career loss in his last start, which was also the best one of his season. Lobstein allowed two runs in an efficient seven innings, throwing just 92 pitches while striking out five.
Hitter to fear: Ian Kinsler (.556/.556/.889 in 9 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Miguel Cabrera (.167/.167/.167 in 6 plate appearances)
Nolasco has pitched well against the Tigers this year in two starts, but has yet to record a decision. He gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings in a start at Comerica Park back on June 15th, though things could have gone worse. Nolasco left the game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning shortly after allowing a game-tying double to Nick Castellanos, but Jared Burton got out of the one-out jam. Castellanos is one of three Tigers hitters with an extra base hit against Nolasco this year, but Ian Kinsler leads the way with three doubles and five hits in nine career at-bats against Nolasco.
The last time these Twins got a second look at one of the Tigers' rookie left-handers, they scored 20 runs. It may not be going out on a limb to say that Lobstein will fare better than Robbie Ray did -- it's hard to do much worse, really -- but Lobstein's solid results seem to be a little bit more sustainable than Ray's early success. If he can keep the offense within striking distance over five or six innings, the Tigers should be able to even this season series.
Nolasco outduels Lobstein, but the White Sox bail the Tigers out with a win over Kansas City.