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 Twins vs Tigers Pregame Notes

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PostSubject: Twins vs Tigers Pregame Notes   Sat May 03, 2008 10:46 am

05/03/2008 1:55 AM ET
Twins riding momentum vs. Tigers
Minnesota (14-14) vs. Detroit (14-16), Saturday, 6:10 p.m. CT
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Twins visited Detroit in mid-April, the Tigers were clearly scuffling.

With just a 2-10 record heading into their two-game series with Minnesota, the Tigers were already the talk of baseball. There was plenty of concern over whether the preseason favorites to win the American League Central could break out of their early slump.

But the Twins expressed concerns of their own. And those were about possibly being the team that got the Tigers going on a hot streak.

Unfortunately, that's been exactly the case. Since its two-game sweep of the Twins, Detroit has gotten on a roll. The Tigers entered the current series against the Twins with a 10-5 record since that series and were winners of eight of their past 10 games, including a three-game sweep of the Yankees in New York, the club's first since 1966.

It's a turnaround that hasn't come as a surprise to anyone in Minnesota.

"The Tigers have the capability of running off 18, 19, 20 wins in a month," said Twins acting manager Scott Ullger. "They have that much talent on their team. They have a potential Hall of Famer who's hitting eighth right now. So have they hit their stride yet? I don't know. I can only go by what we did against them, and we were in those ballgames."

Fortunately for the Twins, because of Detroit's early scuffles and some slow troubles by Cleveland, no one team has run away with the division through the first month of the season.

While the Twins have not been above .500 since April 12, the team currently sits just a half-game back of the division lead after defeating the Tigers in the opener of this three-game set.

"Our division, we've seen everybody in it and Detroit can knock the living fire out of the ball, but can we play with them? Absolutely," manager Ron Gardenhire said on Wednesday. "Just like we can play with Cleveland. We proved that, and the [White Sox] too.

"It's just a matter of can you do it over the long run? That's what we're all here for, to see how long you can play with them. We have to get more consistent, we know that. I think everybody is trying to work toward the same thing -- a little more consistency day in and day out."

After tying their season-high number of hits with 16 on Friday night, the Twins want to see if they can find consistency with their offense for a second straight night. The last time the team tallied that number of hits, a 12-6 win on Saturday night in Texas, they followed it up by getting shut out for the fourth time this season.

So the goal this time is to find a more productive route.

"It seems like we've been toying with the .500 mark and every time we get there, we drop a couple games again," Michael Cuddyer said. "We've got to find that consistency, go over that .500 mark and sustain it. And hopefully we can build on that effort tonight. They are a tough team, so we'll just have to see."

Pitching matchup

MIN: RHP Scott Baker (2-0, 4.50 ERA)
Detroit's new nemesis in Minnesota with Johan Santana gone might well end up being Baker, whose seven innings with three runs allowed in Detroit last month nearly earned the Twins a victory. Without a power arsenal, he hits his spots well enough to cause Tigers hitters frustration. Baker has three straight no-decisions since winning his first two starts to the season.

DET: RHP Justin Verlander (1-4, 6.50 ERA)
Coming off his first win of the season, Verlander looked sharp through three innings against the Angels, but he ran into trouble in the next three. He
allowed one run each in the fourth and fifth, before allowing four in the sixth that knocked him out of the game. Verlander, which many pundits picked to win this year's American League Cy Young Award, is off the worst start of his three-year career. He faces Minnesota for the first time this season. Verlander is 3-3 with a 4.00 ERA in six career starts against the Twins.

Tidbits

Right-hander Kevin Slowey (strained right biceps) made his third rehab start on Thursday and first for Triple-A Rochester. Slowey pitched five innings and gave up two runs, both on solo home runs. He was tagged for three hits and walked two while striking out nine. ... Coming into Saturday's game, the Twins lead the Majors with 10 outfield assists. ... Cuddyer extended his hitting streak to seven games on Friday night.


On the Internet
MLB.TV
Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes

On television

• FSN
On radio
• KSTP-AM/TRN

Up next

• Sunday: Twins (Boof Bonser, 2-4, 3.75) vs. Tigers (Kenny Rogers, 2-3, 6.75), 1:10 p.m. CT

• Monday: Off-day

• Tuesday: Twins (Nick Blackburn, 2-1, 3.52) at White Sox (Gavin Floyd, 2-1, 3.16), 7:11 p.m. CT

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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