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Twins vs. Tigers

MLB Betting Preview

7/3/12

The main weakness of the Detroit Tigers this season has been starting pitching beyond ace Justin Verlander, who is headed to his fifth career MLB All-Star Game in a week.  That remains a problem for Detroit (39-41) and showed yet again in a 6-4 home loss to the Minnesota Twins (34-45) on Monday.  The Tigers will try to get back on track Tuesday in the second game of a four-game series as they had won the previous three games between the teams.

The Twins had not had much success against Detroit over the last two years, dropping seven of the last 10 meetings dating back to August of 2011.  However, they have now won six of nine overall, including four straight after taking three of four from the Kansas City Royals over the weekend.  They got manager Ron Gardenhire his 900th career win on Monday behind a four-run fourth inning.

The Tigers returned home from a 5-5 road trip and continued to struggle with starting pitcher Doug Fister giving up six runs and eight hits in just four innings to fall to 1-6 this season.  All-Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera was the only bright spot in the loss to Minnesota, going 3-for-3 with three RBI.

Detroit was expected to send hard-throwing right-hander Max Scherzer (7-5, 4.98 ERA) to the mound for his 17th start of the year.  But a hamstring injury will force Scherzer to miss a start, so Duane Below (2-1, 2.70) will come out the bullpen to make his first start of the year.  The bad news is that he has pitched in eight straight losses and has been involved in just four wins in 21 appearances overall this season.  The good news is that he has struck out 22 batters in 33.1 innings with only four walks.

Minnesota will give the ball to Nick Blackburn (4-5, 7.74) as he takes the mound for his 13th start.  The Twins are 6-6 as a team when he starts, which is a bit surprising considering how poor his ERA is.  He is 1-1 with a 7.88 ERA in his last three starts, with his team winning two of them mostly due to scoring 15 runs during that stretch.  In fact, Minnesota has scored more than four runs in six of his last seven outings, going 6-1 in those games.

One important thing to note about Blackburn is that he has had trouble pitching deep into games all season long, going more than five innings only once in his last seven starts.  He has made five total starts on the road this year, going 2-2 with a 7.50 ERA.  Once again, despite these poor pitching numbers, the Twins are 3-2 with the UNDER going 4-1.  He is 4-6 lifetime against the Tigers with a 5.91 ERA.

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