Betting On The Tigers This Weekend Gets Tricky!
Wasn’t it me that predicted that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire would be the first baseball manager to be shown the door in 2006? Yes I also think that Barry Bonds is being unfairly accused of using performance enhancing drugs? No Gardenhire is doing just fine these days as he and his troops prepare for a crucial three game set in the Twin Cities tonight.
Minnesota (59-41) has won 34 of 42 since June 8 to cut what was an 11-game deficit in the wild card to a half-game.
“We’re just playing really good baseball,” said manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team was 25-33 nearly seven weeks ago. “People keep talking about the streak we’re on, but streaks don’t last two months or a month and a half.”
The Twins caught the struggling Chicago White Sox, who have led the wild-card race for most of the season, by completing a three-game sweep with a 7-4 victory Wednesday. Minnesota and Chicago are right behind the New York Yankees, who open a three-game home set against Tampa Bay on Friday night.
The Tigers under veteran skipper Jim Leyland have maintained their composure and now must deal with the newest phenom in the American League and that would be none other then rookie pitcher Francisco Liariano. The Twins look to keep rolling Friday behind Liriano (12-2, 1.93 ERA), who pitched poorly against the Tigers in two relief outings this season, allowing seven runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings for a 17.18 ERA.
Since being moved into the rotation, though, the rookie left-hander has become a leading contender for the CY Young Award, going 11-2 with a 1.59 ERA in 13 starts. Minnesota is 2-7 this season against Detroit and has been outscored 64-25. In a three-game sweep from April 28-30 at Comerica Park, the Twins were outscored 33-1. The Tigers (68-33) have the best record in the major leagues, and their 30-13 mark against divisional opponents is also tops in baseball. Detroit leads the AL Central by 8 1/2 games over Minnesota and Chicago.
The question mark for all contending teams is the starting pitching and the Tigers send a struggling Zach Miner to the hill tonight. Miner has lasted only 6 2-3 combined innings and given up 10 earned runs in losing both of his starts since the break. In his first seven starts after being recalled in early June, the right-hander was 6-1 with a 2.57 ERA and didn’t allow more than three runs in a game.
Detroit gave Miner a five-run lead after one inning Saturday against Oakland, but he surrendered five runs in the top of the second and was pulled after a season-low 2 1-3 innings of a 9-5 loss.
Detroit has lost 9 of the past 12 in Minnesota and will be a dog tonight!
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About the Author: Bob Acton is an experienced sports writer and handicapper, who has written for the sports industry for over 10 years. His years of writing for Sports Scene, sports consulting on 33 Made for Television and Major Motion Pictures and his work as an instructor at Pro Teach Baseball Academy, have made Bob a trusted and respected source in the sports world.