The Detroit Tigers got a bit of an odd breather on Friday after playing a doubleheader in Oakland to open up the second half of the season the day before, splitting the two games to open up the second half of the season at a .500 clip. They now return home to the friendly confines of Comerica Park to host the Minnesota Twins for two as well, though they will only be playing one game per day starting on Saturday as they look to gain some ground on their American League Central rivals.
After a first half that left the fans feeling very underwhelmed, thanks in large part to a historical underperformance by the offense along with a slew of injuries and other odd events that prevented the team from coalescing — save for a six-game winning streak at the beginning of July — the Motor City Kitties look to put together a second act to the season similar to last year’s. That will be a tough act to follow, however, starting with the matchup against the Twinkies who send a young up-and-comer to the bump to face a veteran who has struggled in Detroit this season after a delayed start and a freak injury. Here is what is in store for this evening’s affair.
Detroit Tigers (38-56) vs. Minnesota Twins (50-44)
Time/Place: 6:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchups: RHP Michael Pineda (2-5, 5.22 ERA) vs. RHP Joe Ryan (6-3, 2.99 ERA)
Game 95 Pitching Matchup
Michael Pineda continues to flounder after returning from a broken middle finger he sustained back in May, putting up a gut-wrenching 7.79 ERA and 7.04 FIP over a 17 1⁄3 inning stretch that spans over four appearances. The right-hander has given up 28 hits — but only a pair of walks — allowing 16 runs (15 earned) along with six home runs while only eight strikeouts. The real bruiser was his most recent outing against the Cleveland Guardians on July 16 in which he was absolutely pummeled for eight runs on nine hits including two dingers while striking out one in two frames of work. Both he and the Tigers took the loss that day in a 10-0 drubbing on the road.
Joe Ryan faced Detroit once before this season back on April 27, which turned out to be the best start so far this season for the young right-hander. He threw seven innings of shutout ball allowing just a hit and a walk while sending nine Tigers down on strikes to earn a 5-0 win that day for the Twins. Just three games ago, the 26-year-old put up similar numbers against the Baltimore Orioles, hurling seven frames of one-run ball, allowing just a pair of hits plus a walk while striking out seven. However, he did have a blemish since against the Chicago White Sox on July 6, getting touched for three runs (two earned) in four innings of work as Minnesota took the loss that day.
Key Matchup: Pineda vs. his mojo
It seems rather likely that the Twins’ Saturday starter will keep the Tigers’ bats quiet, meaning that Pineda needs to quickly rediscover what had once made him a valuable innings-eater. The 33-year-old faced Minnesota once this season and it was not pretty, coughing up four runs on seven hits (THREE home runs) while striking out two in five frames of work back on April 27. That simply will not cut it today, so if he lets things get out of hand early it could be over quickly for the Olde English D.