Minnesota Twins (49-43) vs. Detroit Tigers (54-36)
The Twins came out of the All-Star break on fire, sweeping Oakland in four games. They enter this series a season-high 6 games over .500, with six games remaining on the current homestand. The Tigers went into the break on a hot streak, 6-1 in July, but they come to the Metrodome after splitting four games in Seattle. The fact that Detroit didn’t win the road series is a bit of a rarity, they have won the last four road series and have a better record on the road, with a 29-17 mark away from the Motor City. That is the best road record in the majors (closest is Arizona at 27-20). The Twins’ home record improved dramatically over the last weekend to 26-20, which is nowhere near the best home record in the majors (Cleveland 33-13 holds that distinction).
I’m not looking for a war with Major League Baseball, but I have a problem that the minute anything happens, suddenly a suspension comes into play. I don’t think that’s right. There are going to be arguments. When you’re playing for big stakes, there are going to be arguments. If they want to take that away, let’s just go to Sunday school.
–Jim Leyland, on Pudge’s impending suspension for contact with an umpire
Here’s one of the dangers of blogging. If you post something about the questions facing the team in the second half, there is always the chance that someone else will answer them on their own blog. Then, suddenly, someone else gives their opinions and calls you out. Then, of course, you have no recourse but to answer your own questions. All in all, every one of the three respondents were very wary of the Twins, despite the fact that they aren’t as close as Cleveland.
A little over a week ago, ubelmann looked at the Twins distribution of runs scored and runs allowed. In a similar vein, Billfer at the Detroit Tigers Weblog looks at the same distributions, and surprisingly, the Tigers score more and allow more than the Twins. My favorite quote from the entry was, “with runs allowed, one would expect the Tigers to have a 42.6-43.4 record given normal run support. So essentially without the strength of their offense they’d be a .500 team.” Detroit’s offense has been a strength all season long, and it has been starting with the leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson. He has been among the league leaders in extra base hits the entire season, and has already accumulated 16 triples. So many triples so quickly has drawn some attention, but looking at others who have hit a lot of triples in the first half, there may be a drop-off in the remainder of the season. Granderson doesn’t hit like a typical leadoff hitter. His OBP is lower than ideal, but all those extra-base hits could be a way to make up for that. Baseball Musings looked at the difference and decided that an on-base percentage point is worth more than a slugging percentage point.
So now we’ve gone from Neifi!! being an occasional defensive help and a constant offensive wasteland to Neifi!! being little more than a dustbunny for the team. You know what I mean. Useless, a little gross, nobody quite knows how it got there, and you really just want to sweep it back under the bed from whence it came.
– Roar of the Tigers
Probably one of the main reasons for the difficulty the Tigers have had in preventing runs has been the fact that it has been a revolving door of pitchers on the club due to injury, promotions, demotions, and trades. Overall, the Tigers have lost about $5M in salary to the disabled list from their pitching staff alone. A majority of that comes from Kenny Rogers missing almost half the season, so that number may be a bit inflated for effect.
Starting Pitchers for the next three days:
Matt Garza vs. Nate Robertson
Garza makes his second start of the ’07 season after his successful debut against the White Sox. Nate Robertson makes his fourth start after coming off the DL. In his last three starts he has gone 1-0, with just over 5 innings per start and an ERA of 4.32. Robertson has his own blog, and he is certainly maintaining a positive attitude about his return to the team and just about everything else.
|I couldn’t decide on a favorite Santana image, so you decide: Deranged St. Nick is from Stop Mike Lupica, while the much more cuddly monster is from Roar of the Tigers|
Johan Santana vs. Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller represents the second lefty in a row Detroit will throw at the Twins. Minnesota has had a little more trouble with left-handed starters (4.52 R/9) than right-handed starters (5.32 R/9), scoring almost a full run less per nine innings. Counter to that trend, the Twins scored 6 runs off of Miller in 5 innings the last time they met, which has been by far Miller’s worst start of his season. He has earned the decision in all seven of his starts.
Scott Baker vs. Jeremy Bonderman
Once again the series finale will pit Baker against Bonderman. The last time these two met, Baker was excellent, but Bonderman was just one run better as the Tigers avoided a sweep, winning 1-0. Hopefully the Twins find themselves in a similar position coming into the game and get a similarly outstanding performance from Baker, and I’ll take my chances that the offense puts enough runs on the board.
Finally, Gary Sheffield has made some comments recently about steroids, Barry Bonds, and Joe Torre’s treatment of specific players on the Yankees. If you’re interested, here’s some background on the Torre situation, using stories from Sheff’s book to dissect the situation. For the lighter side of the interview, look to Sheffield’s definition of steroids.