Minnesota Twins (78-73 SU, 80-71 RL, 67-75-9 O/U) vs. Detroit Tigers (62-89 SU, 69-82 RL, 82-63-6 O/U)
MLB: Thursday, September 21, 2017, Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan, 7:10 pm ET
Lines: Minnesota -133, Detroit +123; Over/Under: 10.5
It’s the start of an extended series between a pair of AL Central foes to kick off the weekend in the Motor City. The Minnesota Twins are on the first for the first of four against the Detroit Tigers Thursday night. Minnesota closed a three-game series with the Yankees on the road Wednesday hoping to avoid a sweep: they lost 5-2 Tuesday night. Detroit finished a three-game series at home against the A’s trying to avoid being swept as they fell 9-8 Tuesday. The Twins took two of three in the last series between the teams, which came August 11-13 in Detroit.
Minnesota Twins Fighting to Hold Position in Wild Card Race
Minnesota lost their second straight and their fourth in the last five games as they were dropped again by the Yankees Tuesday. The Twins entered Wednesday’s game 1.5 games ahead of the Angels for the second wild card spot. Minnesota got two hits each from Joe Mauer, Jorge Polanco and Chris Gimenez in the loss. Max Kepler hit a solo homer, his 18th of the year, for the Twins. Jose Berrios (12-8) took the loss on the mound as he failed to get out of the fourth inning. He allowed three runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts over 3.1 innings.
Lefty Adalberto Mejia gets the ball for the 20th time this season for Minnesota. He is 4-6 with a 4.62 ERA, a 1.572 WHIP, 40 walks and 77 strikeouts over 89.2 innings of work. Mejia took the loss in his last outing, which came against the Blue Jays at home Saturday to extend his winless streak to seven games. That was his first start since coming off the disabled list with a biceps strain. He threw three innings, allowing three runs on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts in a 7-2 Twins loss. Mejia has a 0-2 record with a 9.00 ERA, a 2.30 WHIP, four walks and 12 strikeouts over 10 innings in his last three starts. This is his third career start against the Tigers: he has no record with a 5.14 ERA and a 2.143 WHIP over seven innings of work. Mejia, in his 21st career appearance and 20th start, makes his first start at Comerica Park.
Detroit Tigers Continuing to Flounder Down the Stretch
Detroit dropped their second straight and their ninth in the last 11 games as they couldn’t hold a lead against the A’s. The Tigers are still 1.5 games ahead of the White Sox in the battle for the basement in the AL Central. Detroit led 8-4 after six innings before letting things slip away. Alex Presley (run, RBI) had four hits for the Tigers while Miguel Cabrera (run) added three in the loss. Ian Kinsler (his 20th), Presley (his second) and Nick Castellanos (his 24th) all went deep for Detroit. Chad Bell recorded a no-decision after allowing three runs on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts over 3.1 innings. Alex Wilson (2-5) took the loss as he allowed four runs on four hits with two strikeouts in one inning of relief.
Jordan Zimmermann takes the hill and makes his 28th start of the season for the Tigers in this contest. He is 8-12 with a 6.18 ERA, a 1.58 WHIP, 42 walks and 96 strikeouts over 150 innings of work this season. Zimmermann makes his first start in nearly three weeks after dealing with a neck issue: he took the loss in his last start, which came at home against the Indians September 2. He threw five innings, allowing five runs on 12 hits with no walks and two strikeouts as the Tigers were dealt a 5-2 loss. Zimmermann is 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA, a 2.13 WHIP, two walks and five strikeouts over 15 innings in his last three starts. He makes his sixth career start against the Twins in this contest: he is 3-2 with a 6.89 ERA and a 1.592 WHIP over 32.2 innings of work. Zimmermann is 10-11 with a 6.80 ERA and a 1.528 WHIP over 127 innings in 24 career appearances, 23 starts, at Comerica Park.
- Twins are 4-1 in their last 5 Thursday games
- Tigers are 0-7 in their last 7 vs. a team with a winning record
- Tigers are 0-4 in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a winning road record
This one is a matchup of two struggling division rivals. Both teams are throwing pitchers that have had issues lately and who had a recent stint on the disabled list. Zimmermann has been atrocious since signing with the Tigers before last season as his ability to get guys out apparently stayed in the nation’s capital. Mejia has been up and down though he’s currently in a trough. The difference between the teams is the Twins have something to play for and the Tigers don’t: that’s enough to swing the pendulum Minnesota’s way in the opener.
Pick: Minnesota Twins -133
Minnesota simply has to win a few games at this point as the majority of the rest of the field in the chase for the second wild card spot has died off from self-inflicted wounds. The Twins are still 1.5 games up on the Angels entering Wednesday with seven of their final 10 games against a Detroit team that couldn’t beat, to paraphrase former Ohio State and current West Virginia president E. Gordon Gee, the Little Sisters of the Poor. The Tigers are a rudderless ship and there will be plenty of changes in the organization in the offseason.
The over is 4-0 in the Tigers last 4 overall, 4-0 in their last four on grass, 5-0 in their last five series openers, 22-6 in their last 28 at home, 8-3 in their last 11 against AL Central opponents and 10-4 in their last 14 at home against teams with a winning record. The teams have combined to go over the total in each of their last four meetings in Detroit and each of their last five matchups overall. With shaky pitching on both sides, this one seems poised to exceed the total as well.