MLB Handicapping: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins AL Central Rivalry

The Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins start an important four-game series in the American League Central race at Target Field Thursday night

Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer is batting .356 in his career against Detroit Tigers SP Justin Verlander

Detroit dropped a 7-5 home contest to the Oakland Athletics Wednesday and now start an important weekend series against an American League Central rival.  The Tigers were clearly frustrated with the effort and had its two-game winning streak snapped in the process.  “I’ve never seen so many two-game series bloop hits and broken bat hits that killed us,” said Tigers catcher Alex Avila.  It’s just one of those series where we were able to get one yesterday and this one was frustrating.”  The club has still won 39 of its last 68 games and is 19-10 versus division opponents this year.  Detroit has recorded a losing 33-35 mark versus right-handed pitchers and is 24-22 following a loss.

Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander is 12-5 with a 2.29 ERA in 21 starts this seaosn and has dropped two of his last three outings.  He is coming off an 8-2 home loss to the White Sox, giving up five runs (four earned) and seven hits in six frames.  The right-hander has tallied a solid 5-2 record and 2.08 ERA in nine road starts, as opponents are hitting just .184 against him.  In 18 career starts versus the Twins, Verlander has posted an even 7-7 mark and 3.71 ERA, but has yet to record a decision at Target Field.

Minnesota finished off its four-game set against Cleveland with consecutive victories and will now seek a third straight win Thursday night.  The Twins have failed to collect a win against the Tigers this year, but things are much different in the clubhouse than the last time they matched up.  “It wasn’t fun leaving Detroit and flying wherever we went to after that,” said Danny Valencia.  “But a lot’s changed since then, our team’s really clicked a little bit.”  Catcher Joe Mauer is likely to prove key in the offensive attack against one of the league’s dominating pitchers, batting .356 with three home runs in 45 at-bats against Verlander.  Minnesota is 21-14 versus division opponents this year and 114-66 over the last three campaigns.

Twins starting pitcher Carl Pavano is 6-6 with a 4.08 ERA in 19 starts this season and has led the club to six wins in his last eight outings.  In his latest effort, he tossed seven strong innings in allowing just three runs in a no-decision effort that resulted in a 4-3 home win over the Royals.  The right-hander is a solid 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA in eight home outings, surrendering just three home runs in 59 frames.  In nine career games versus the Tigers, Pavano is 5-2 with a 3.79 ERA, including a 1-1 mark and 5.49 ERA in three games last year.

Bettors will likely back the Twins due to their 7-2 mark as a home underdog, while the Tigers are 3-7 when opening a series

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