It was a rough go for the Detroit Tigers out in the Pacific Northwest. After winning the first of a four-game set at Safeco Field against the Seattle Mariners, Detroit went on the drop the final three games of the series, including a walk-off loss in the 11th inning on Sunday after holding a 2-0 lead through eight innings.
In those three losses, the Tigers’ bullpen allowed eight runs in just 6.2 innings pitched, recording as many walks (4) as strikeouts.
It’s a bit odd that Detroit (20-26) will be done with the season series with three different clubs before even seeing a division foe once. That will be the case when they kick off a three-game set in Minneapolis on Monday against the Minnesota Twins (19-23).
The small-market Twinkies were one of the busier players this past offseason with a flurry of additions either via trades or free agent deals, particularly to their pitching staff. They hit a wall in late April when they went through a 2-11 stretch to fall to a season-high seven games under the .500 mark (9-16). They have since rebounded somewhat. A win on Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, however, did snap a three-game slide.
Minnesota won the season series a year ago against Detroit, 11-8. Since Target Field opened in 2010, however, the Tigers own a 44-29 mark in that ballpark against their division rivals, by far the best among the other American League Central clubs.
Game 1 | Blaine Hardy (Tigers) vs. José Berríos (Twins)
Blaine Hardy will get another nod to start on Monday for Detroit after making his first career starting assignment on Mother’s Day against Seattle. Hardy turned in an admirable performance, giving up just two runs on eight hits over 4.1 innings of work. The 31-year-old lefty then appeared in the seventh inning four days later against the same Mariners club, recording a strikeout.
Hardy will oppose 21-year-old José Berríos (4-4, 4.05 ERA) in the opener on Monday. Berríos got off to a red-hot start to the season, compiling a sub-2.00 ERA through his first four starts. The former first-round pick of the Twins in 2012 has been a little “all or nothing” so far in 2018. He has four starts of one run or fewer but allowed four or more in his other five outings. The Tigers have absolutely bullied Berríos since he debuted in 2016, tagging him with 20 earned runs over 15.1 IP, or an 11.74 ERA.
Game 2 | Matthew Boyd (Tigers) vs. Lance Lynn (Twins)
No question, Matthew Boyd (2-3, 3.19 ERA) has been the most consistently reliable starter for the Tigers early on. Pitching right in his home backyard on Thursday, Boyd collected a season-high nine strikeouts over six innings, holding the Mariners to just two runs on six hits. He holds a career 3.98 ERA in 11 starts against the Twins but a slight uptick in that department in five starts at Target Field (4.30 ERA).
Lance Lynn (1-4, 7.47 ERA) is one of those many newcomers for the Twins this season, he signed a one-year deal about midway through spring training after failing to get any long-term offers. However, the 31-year-old has struggled to settle in with his new employer after coming over from the senior circuit with the St. Louis Cardinals. Lynn compiled a 3.38 ERA in 183 games (161 starts) with St. Louis from 2011-17. He does have two career starts against the Tigers, the most recent coming in 2015.
Game 3 | Michael Fulmer (Tigers) vs. Kyle Gibson (Twins)
Michael Fulmer (1-3, 4.35 ERA) was really good in his last tilt with the Mariners. His final line will show that he allowed three runs over 6.1, but he had allowed just two hits over the first six frames before Seattle chased him in the seventh. This will be Fulmer’s fourth career start against Minnesota and third ever at Target Field, where he made his major league debut at back on April 29, 2016.
The Twins have to be encouraged with the start to the year Kyle Gibson (1-2, 3.96 ERA) has gotten off to in 2018. Gibson turned in identical 5.07 ERA marks in each of the previous two seasons (54 starts) and has a career 4.65 ERA in his now sixth season with the organization. The 30-year-old is coming off a start in which he yielded five runs against the Brewers, matching a season-high and now faces a Detroit team that has given him fits in his career (5.59 ERA in 16 starts vs. DET).
HITTERS TO WATCH
Tigers catcher James McCann absolutely loves raking at Target Field. Since he arrived in the majors, McCann is hitting just over .400 (22 for 54), his highest batting average in any AL ballpark, with an OPS over 1.250. He also comes into this series swinging a hot bat. After a 2-for-5 showing on Sunday, McCann is hitting .305 (18 for 59) this month.
Meanwhile, the Tigers will have to somehow slow down Eddie Rosario, who has been the Twins’ hottest hitter over the last month-ish. After an April 25 game against the New York Yankees, Rosario carried just a .216 BA and a .612 OPS, with two homers and 10 RBI. Since then, he is slashing .356/.376/.689 in a span of 22 games, with seven bombs and 17 RBI, vaulting his average up close to .300 on the year.
- Game 1 | Mon, May 21 @ 8:10 p.m. ET
- Game 2 | Tue, May 22 @ 8:10 p.m. ET
- Game 3 | Wed, May 23 @ 1:10 p.m. ET
All games can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit unless otherwise noted. Be sure to check your local listings for regional radio broadcasts.