The Minnesota Twins look to continue their recent domination of the Detroit Tigers and hand starter Mike Maroth his major league-leading 16th loss as the teams open a three-game series at Comerica Park.
The Twins have won 17 of 18 games against the Tigers over the last two seasons. Most recently, Minnesota took two of three from Detroit at the Metrodome last weekend, outscoring the Tigers 17-6 in their two wins.
The Tigers’ 9-2 victory Saturday snapped a 16-game losing streak against the Twins and was their first win against their AL Central rivals since May 2, 2002.
“Eventually, this isn’t college football,” Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. “They’re major league baseball players over there.”
Of course, the Tigers haven’t always played like big leaguers this season— Thursday’s 3-2 win over Barry Zito and the Oakland Athletics was just their 30th of the season, while every other team in baseball has at least 40.
The Tigers are on pace to threaten the modern major league record of 120 losses, set by the 1962 New York Mets.
Maroth is also trying to avoid a dubious distinction. He and teammate Jeremy Bonderman, who avoided his 16th loss with a win Thursday, are on pace to become the first 20-game losers since Oakland’s Brian Kingman in 1980.
Maroth earned the win Saturday in Detroit’s victory over Minnesota, giving up just one earned run and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings. However, manager Alan Trammell said that Maroth’s outing wasn’t particularly strong.
”(Maroth) struggled all night and that’s why we made a change early,” he said. “He was really fortunate and he made some pitches when he needed to and they hit some balls at us. But the fact of the matter is, every inning it seems he had two guys on. Or three.”
Eric Munson homered on Thursday for the Tigers, who have lost three of four.
STANDINGS (through Aug. 6): Twins - 3rd place, 3 1/2 GB, AL Central. Tigers - 5th place, 30 1/2 GB, AL Central.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Johan Santana (5-3, 3.46 ERA). Santana gave up two earned runs and five hits in six innings of Sunday’s 7-2 win over Detroit—his first victory since June 13. In eight career appearances, including two starts, against the Tigers, he is 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA—his second-best mark against any American League team.
TIGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Maroth (6-15, 5.20 ERA). In four career starts against Minnesota, Maroth is 1-3 with a 4.56 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Twins - Jacque Jones, .305 avg.; Hunter, 20 HRs and 72 RBIs; Shannon Stewart, 64 runs; Cristian Guzman, 13 SBs. Tigers - Dmitri Young, .288 avg., 22 HRs, 60 RBIs and 54 runs; Alex Sanchez, 25 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Twins, 8-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Twins - OF Jones, who is returning from a groin injury, left Thursday’s game in the fourth inning as a precaution because the field was slick from rain. … Since being activated from the disabled list Monday, 3B Corey Koskie, who missed 14 games with a bulging disk in his back, has gone 6-for-15 (.400) with three runs and an RBI. … INF Denny Hocking started at shortstop Thursday in place of SS Guzman because manager Ron Gardenhire wanted him to get some at-bats. Tigers - Detroit is 5-15 since the All-Star break. … LHP Maroth is 1-8 with a 5.03 ERA in 10 home starts this season. … 3B Munson went 5-for-11 (.455) with five RBIs, two runs and two homers in the three-game series with the A’s.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Twins - 25-30 on the road; Tigers - 14-39 at home.
INJURIES: Twins - OF Lew Ford (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (elbow), 60-day DL. Tigers - C A.J. Hinch (groin), 15-day DL; IF Dean Palmer (shoulder, back), 60-day DL.