Twins spit DH, unable to gain ground on Tigers; Game 3 tonightMinnesota Sports - The Minnesota Twins split a doubleheader Tuesday with the Tigers, meaning they only have two chances left to tie Detroit in the AL Central standings in this four-game series starting tonight at 7:05 p.m. at Comerica Park in Detroit.
DETROIT - After failing to gain any ground in the race for the American League Central title on Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins will try once more to close the gap on the front-running Detroit Tigers when the two divisional foes resume a critical four-game series tonight at Comerica Park.
Detroit was able to maintain its two-game edge on Minnesota for first place after splitting a doubleheader with the Twins yesterday. The Tigers were edged by a 3-2 count in 10 innings in the opener, but rebounded for a 6-5 victory behind ace Justin Verlander in game two.
The Tigers currently have a magic number of four to clinch the division. Both teams have five games remaining in the regular season.
Verlander came through in a big way in the nightcap, as the All-Star hurler worked eight innings and allowed four runs while striking out eight batters to collect his 18th win of 2009. Fernando Rodney was touched for a run in the ninth, but got Denard Span to fly out with the tying man on second to finish things out.
Detroit built a 5-0 lead after five innings, with Magglio Ordonez coming through with a two-run double and Brandon Inge contributing a two-RBI single. Miguel Cabrera started the scoring with a solo homer in the second, his 33rd round-tripper of the year.
"It was a very important game after losing the first one," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "I thought Verlander was the horse that he is and showed that [Tuesday night]. With a couple of big hits we got the win."
Minnesota temporarily cut its deficit to a single game in a well-pitched opener, with Orlando Cabrera's RBI single in the top of the 10th snapping a 1-1 tie. Cabrera later scored an insurance run on Delmon Young's sacrifice fly.
Joe Nathan gave up a leadoff solo homer to Curtis Granderson in the bottom of the 10th that pulled Detroit within 3-2, but the standout closer set down the next three hitters to notch his 45th save.
Both starting pitchers excelled despite not factoring in the final outcome. The Twins' Nick Blackburn yielded only one run on six hits over the first seven frames, while the Tigers' Rick Porcello held Minnesota to just a single run in 6 1/3 innings of work.
With their backs close to the wall, the Twins will call upon Carl Pavano to try to tame the Tigers once again. The midseason acquisition has given Detroit plenty of fits over the course of this season, having amassed a 4-0 record along with a impressive 1.69 earned run average over five starts against tonight's opponent.
Pavano fired seven shutout innings to top Detroit at Comerica Park back on August 8, his first outing with the Twins since being acquired from Cleveland via trade. The right-hander got a no-decision in his most recent encounter with the Tigers, but surrendered just two runs through seven frames in a September 19 game at the Metrodome.
The 33-year-old followed up by permitting four runs through six innings in Minnesota's 9-4 triumph at Kansas City this past Friday, which upped his record to 4-3 with a 3.84 ERA in 10 starts as a Twin.
Eddie Bonine gets the assignment for Detroit this evening and is coming off a tough-luck defeat in Chicago on Friday. The rookie right-hander was touched for a pair of runs, both of which were unearned, on only two hits over a season-high 6 2/3 innings in the Tigers' 2-0 setback to the White Sox.
Bonine has spent the majority of this season pitching for Detroit's Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, but has performed well since being called up to the majors in September. In two starts and a pair of relief appearances this month, the 28-year-old has posted a 2.35 ERA and allowed just 10 hits over 15 1/3 innings.
His only career start against the Twins came in July of last season and wasn't a sharp effort. Bonine lasted only 2 2/3 innings in that game and was tagged for five runs (2 earned) on seven hits to receive the loss.
The Twins have won 10 of their 16 previous meetings with Detroit this season, but are just 3-4 at Comerica Park and 37-42 overall on the road this year. The Tigers, conversely, have been one of baseball's best home teams in 2009, bringing a strong 49-27 record as the host into tonight's tilt.