Detroit Looks to Close Down the Metrodome, Twins want to Give it a Playoff Sendoff
1 Game Playoff Play-in Blue Duck Preview
The Detroit Tigers have stumbled down the stretch and opened the door for the Minnesota Twins to give their notorious stadium one last chance at playoff glory.
Detroit has finished with a 4 and 6 record in the final ten games of the season including two key losses to the Twins in a series last week. Minnesota countered with a 7 and 3 finish. The Twin’s bats have been hot enough to carry a pretty weak pitching staff into a position to play October baseball.
So the stage is set for a one game playoff in Minnesota, and the stadium that is seeing its final days may be as big a factor as any one player in both team’s biggest game thus far in the 2009 campaign. Lets look at the pitching matchups.
Scott Baker (RHP) Twins 15-9, 4.36 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 160 K, 46 BB, 184 H in 194.0 IP.
Rick Porcello (RHP) Tigers 14-9, 4.04 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 81 K, 50 BB, 172 H in 165 IP.
The pitchers match up pretty equally. Neither guy has any playoff experience so you can’t really see any big game history other than the games in the last week or so. Porcello lost to Minnesota in his last outing, but pitched effectively. Baker’s got two straight wins, but has relied heavily on his bullpen in his starts.
The Twins v. Rick Porcello…
This should worry Tiger’s fans. Porcello has only pitched twice at the Metrodome, but he has a 6.30 ERA there, and a 6.60 ERA on turf in this, his rookie season.
Porcello had a 3.09 ERA going 1-2 in four starts against the Twins in ’09. They hit .299 against the Righthander. Not terrible numbers, but lets look a little deeper.
The Twins have hit .349 against him in Minnesota en route to two victories. On May 5th, Porcello shut down the Twins over 7 innings at Comerica, but that was the first time they faced the New Jersey native. The next time out, in Minnesota, Porcello lasted only 4 and a third and gave up 7 hits, and 6 runs (4 earned).
Jason Kubel and Delmon Young have been hot of late, and have to be chomping at the bit to see Porcello on the hill. Delmon and Jason hit for a combined .600 avg off Porcello. In the last 4 games of the season, Young is hitting .583 with 3 Homeruns, and 10 RBI’s. Young is showing Twins fans his first signs of life since they gave up Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett for him.
If he gets the sinker to stay down, Porcello can limit the damage, but quieting the Twin’s bats has been impossible of late, and the bullpen will most likely get some work for Detroit on Tuesday. Maybe Verlander coming in late?
Scott Baker v. the Detroit Tigers
If you are a Twins fan, and you are all excited after reading that, just relax for a second because the Scott Baker file doesn’t look much more promising.
Baker carries a 6.75 ERA against the Tigers this season. He finished 1 and 1 in four starts against the divisional foes. The Tigers hit for a .333 average against Baker, and many key guys in their lineup have solid numbers against the 28-year old.
Magglio Ordonez has 39 AB’s against Baker, and is hitting a cool .462 against him with only 1 strikeout. Carlos Guillen has a .462 OBP when facing Baker and Marcus Thames has 4 homers against him in just 26 AB’s.
At first glance, it looks as if Baker owns Curtis Granderson (.222 BA against, .255 OBP), but of his 10 hits in 45 AB’s against Baker, Curtis has a double, a triple, and 4 home runs. So look for some pop right out of the gate on Tuesday.
Baker did not pitch well in September, but had a strong start his last time out. Anything can happen in October, though.
Carebear’s Ms.Cleo Moment…
If you read my golf previews, you know I am terrible at predicting outcomes of games, but I am going to give this a shot.
It is October, and strange things happen in October. I have a feeling both of these guys will step up and have solid starts. Neither guy has been known to go deep into games so the bullpens will take this probably in the middle of the sixth. The Twins have a much better ‘pen than the Tigers so you have to give them the advantage.
The Metrodome is going to be loud, and its going to bring back memories of the old Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett days. Look for a 6-5 victory from the Twins. Joe Nathan stops the Tigers in the ninth, and Delmon Young walks off in the bottom half.
No matter who wins this one, it has been nice to actually have a race in an otherwise uneventful late September. Tune in because this could be the best game at the Metrodome since the Twins lost a heartbreaker to the Mariners when Griffey robbed Lou Collins of a dinger at the end of “Little Big League.”