The Tigers send their ace to the mound in the opening game of a crucial AL Central series at Comerica Park.
Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers
Minnesota will be happy to leave Toronto and AL East opponents, dropping to 9-15 against the division with a 8-1 loss to the Blue Jays last night. “We know they are a home run hitting team and you have to make pitches,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We didn’t make very many of them tonight.” The Twins continue their road trip and hope to improve upon its 19-10 divisional record (+440) against the Tigers. First baseman Justin Morneau hopes to return to the lineup after sitting out with a mild concussion due to getting kneed in the head on Wednesday night. “He wasn’t feeling very good. We’ll see how he does today,” Gardenhire said. The club has seen its games post a 5-1 O/U mark this month and 32-22 O/U the last three years in July.
Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano is an even 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 16 starts this season, managing to strike out 116 batters and walk just 28 in 105.2 innings. The hard-throwing left-hander is 3-3 with a 3.81 ERA in eight road starts, surrendering both of his home runs away from Target Field. Since posting a 3-0 record and 0.93 ERA in the opening month of the season, Liriano struggled to find a rhythm the following two months. He posted a 2-3 record and 5.15 ERA in May and a 1-3 mark and 3.82 ERA in June. In his first start this month, he allowed a single run and four hits while striking out 10 in seven frames. In 13 previous appearances (nine starts) versus the Tigers, he stands at 4-2 with a 4.41 ERA.
Detroit continues to bury teams on its home turf, winning five of six on its current homestand to move to an AL-best 30-12 at Comerica Park (+1,590). The team’s focus is definitely placed on this weekend’s important series before the All-Star break. “I’m looking forward to Friday,” said first baseman Miguel Cabrera. The All-Star slugger is batting .467 with 13 RBIs in his last 12 games. The bullpen has also been relied heavily upon this season, posting a 18-7 record and 3.29 ERA. The relievers are second in the AL in victories and fourth in earned run average. Detroit has been a great team against southpaws over the years and this season is no different. The team is 15-9 against left-handed starters in 2010 (+630) and 70-51 over the last three years (+1,140).
Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander is 10-5 with a 3.85 ERA in 17 starts this season, including picking up five victories in his last six outings. He has compiled a solid 5-2 record and 2.63 ERA in eight home starts, allowing opposing batters to hit for a combined .201 average. In 24 career outings in July, the right-hander is 14-7 with a 3.49 ERA. Verlander tallied a 6-1 home win in his last start against the Seattle Mariners, giving up just a single run and seven hits while striking out 10 in seven innings of work. He gets set to make his 16th career start against the Twins, posting a 5-7 mark and 4.03 ERA, which includes a 2-0 home defeat on April 27 (5.2IP/0ER).
Bettors will certainly note that the visiting team in this contest sits at 7-13 as a road underdog of +100 to +125 this season (-500) and are 0-4 in Liriano’s last four starts as an underdog of +110 to +150. On the other side, the home team has been a -125 to -150 favorite just four times this season (2-2, -70), but have posted a 7-1 record in Verlander’s last eight divisional starts.