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ON DECK: Tigers return home, look to get back on track vs. Twins

Well, that was not an ideal road trip. Perhaps to the surprise of nobody but the Tigers again were swept right out of town on the west coast, this time in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angeles. The eight runs TOTAL Detroit scored in their six-game west coast swing marked the fewest scored in any span that length since September of 2005.

UP NEXT

Returning home should be a welcome sight for the Tigers (47-68), who are 29-27 at Comerica Park this season (18-41 on the road). After a much-needed day off on Thursday, Detroit will welcome in the division rival Minnesota Twins (53-60) to start a six-game homestand.

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The Twinkies have failed to really get it going and piggyback their playoff appearance from a season. It resulted in them effectively waving the white flag last month and having to deal away five players: infielders Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, and pitchers Zach Duke, Lancy Lynn, and Ryan Pressly. Minnesota has been pretty up and down in the second half, going 9-10 entering their series finale with the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.

These two teams will see each other quite often down the stretch. The Tigers have only played the Twins six times so far this season, the fewest among their American League Central rivals.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1 | Ervin Santana (Twins) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (Tigers)

You have to wonder where the Twins would be had Ervin Santana (0-0, 6.14 ERA) been available since Opening Day. The 35-year-old has been recovering finger surgery since February and only made his season debut recently. Santana in his three starts since coming off the 60-day disabled list has allowed 10 earned runs on 20 hits over 14.2 innings of work. He owns a career 3.39 ERA in 22 starts against the Tigers but Detroit roughed him up to the tune of an ERA close to 6.00 in three starts last season.

Jordan Zimmermann (4-4, 4.31 ERA) really bounced back in his last start against a powerful Oakland Athletics club, allowing just two earned runs, both on solo home runs. Zimmermann pitched into the seventh inning (6.1 IP) after failing to reach six frames in his previous two starts of the second half. The 32-year-old recently cleared waivers and while there is some trade value there, there may be too many hurdles to see any sort of deal come to fruition before the August 31 deadline. This will be Zimmermann’s first look at the Twins this year, he has an ERA well over 8.00 against Minnesota since joining the Tigers in 2016.

Game 2 | Kyle Gibson (Twins) vs. Francisco Liriano (Tigers)

Twins righty Kyle Gibson (5-9, 3.60 ERA) heard his named bandied about leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline but ultimately stayed put. The 30-year-old has been one of the Twins’ most consistent performers in 2018 but has been knocked around just a touch as of late, compiling a 4.44 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break. He yielded four runs over five innings in his last start against the Indians, surrendering multiple home runs for the first time over his last 10 starts. Gibson twirled a six-inning, three-run performance against the Tigers way back on May 23.

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Veteran lefty Francisco Liriano (3-6, 4.37 ERA) was another player for the Tigers who recently cleared waivers, along with Zimmermann and shortstop José Iglesias. Liriano against the A’s in his last start went five innings and allowed just two runs over five innings, pitching in front of at least one scout from an anonymous contending club. While he does carry a solid 2.31 ERA over 11.2 innings in the second half, it remains to be seen if Liriano gets dealt away, what role he would serve for a said potential suitor. This will be his first start against the Twins since 2016, he owns a career 5.61 ERA in five starts against his original employer.

Game 3 | TBA (Twins) vs. Matthew Boyd (Tigers)

The Twins have yet to formally announce a starter for the series finale on Sunday. This spot in their rotation is designated for Adalberto Mejía (2-0, 2.01 ERA), but the 25-year-old left his last start against the Indians prematurely due to a wrist strain. That said, Mejía should be good enough to go on Sunday. He appears to be part of the Twins’ rotation full-time, at least through this season, following the aforementioned trade of Lance Lynn and has done well since re-joining the club, tossing 10 scoreless innings over his last two starts.

Should Mejía be unable to go on Sunday, some other options Minnesota could turn to Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves, a pair of highly-regarded minor league hurlers on the Twins’ 40-man roster.

The Tigers will counter with lefty Matthew Boyd (6-10, 4.33 ERA) on Sunday. Boyd ran into some trouble with the long ball in his last start, giving up a pair of gopher balls to the Angels. It comes after not giving up any homers in his previous three outings and was the first time in his last five starts overall that he allowed multiple dingers. Still, the ERA is a solid 2.59 in four second-half outings for Boyd. This will be his third start against the Twins this season (4 ER over 9 IP in first two starts).

HITTERS TO WATCH

The Twins have received a considerable facelift since the Tigers last saw them. Among the notable changes has been the return from Jorge Polanco, who missed the first 80 games this season due to a PED suspension. The 25-year-old has since then returned as the Twins’ everyday shortstop and has a .727 OPS in his 32 games played since returning.

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When your team musters a .464 OPS on a road trip, it is a crap shoot as to who will be the first to break out of their respective hitting slump. Maybe it is Jeimer Candelario? The 24-year-old had the highest OPS (.738) of any Tiger on their recent road trip and was the only Tiger to register multiple RBI (4) on the trip. Candy has the fourth-highest OPS on the team in the second half.

SERIES INFO

  • Game 1 | Fri, Aug 10 @ 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Game 2 | Sat, Aug 11 @ 6:10 p.m. ET
  • Game 3 | Sun, Aug 12 @ 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.

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