Showdown in Motown

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Showdown in Motown
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Twins took two of three games against the Kansas City Royals, while the Detroit Tigers lost two of three to the White Sox, allowing the Twins to pull within two games of the division-leading Tigers.

The Twins are playing their best baseball of the season this month, while the Tigers continue to take a sharp nosedive. 

After winning the first six games of the month, the Tigers are now 8-11 since September eighth.  In that span, they've been outscored 84-to-98 and have scored two or fewer runs in six of the 19 games.

Meanwhile, since September 7th (their last 19 games), the Twins are 13-6 and have outscored their opponents 103 to 73.

The Twins are 'clicking' both at the plate and on the mound, which is completely the opposite for the Tigers. Joe Christensen from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune posted a possible outcome table.

And as you can tell, the Twins need a series victory in order to have a realistic shot at winning the division.  If they tie, they'll need all the luck in the world to win.  And of course if they lose three or four games, the Twins will be eliminated.

The Twins and Tigers faced off against one another at the Metrodome two weekends ago, where the Twins won two of three. 

Unforunately, they aren't at home and will have to try and win at Comerica Park, a place the Tigers have won 65% of their games played there.  The Twins, on the other hand, have a winning percentage of 47% on the road this season.

On paper, the pitching matchups sure look to favor the Tigers.  Even without Edwin Jackson starting, the Tigers have their Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander starting on Wednesday and their Rookie of the Year candidate Rick Porcello going on Monday. 

But Carl Pavano has been a Tiger killer this season, and Brian Duensing has been outstanding since joining the rotation. So couple them with the teams best two pitchers, Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn, gives me reason to feel optimistic about the matchups.

The Tigers' offense is strong, but the Twins have been getting great production from their eight and nine hitters in the lineup. 

Both Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert continue to swing hot bats this month, despite being despicable at the plate throughout the season. 

Tolbert has been hitting primarily eighth and playing third base since joining the lineup and is hitting .381/.395/.500 in 42 September at-bats.

Punto has been playing second base and hitting ninth, but has a .310/.437/.397 hitting line through 58 at-bats this month.

Both were big reasons why Denard Span drove in six runs on Saturday.

Two players the Twins will surely miss in this series will be Joe Crede and Justin Morneau.  The two have been Tiger mashers throughout their careers, but both are out for the season with injuries.

Instead, the Twins will rely on both Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel (besides Joe Mauer, of course) to carry the load in the middle-of-the-lineup.  While Cuddyer's having a great month, he hasn't put up great numbers against Detroit throughout his career.

Kubel has hit terribly all month, which could be of result from him playing in right field on a near day-to-day basis. He is actually zero for his last 13.

Thankfully the Twins have Span, Mauer and even Delmon Young who have all hit well against the Tigers.

The Twins have been playing great these past few weeks, but the pressure is definitely on right now. The Tigers have a lot of things that could give them an edge here and there, but if the Twins continue to play the way they have, it should be a good week for Twins baseball.

***


On the side...

I've been slackin' on the blog as of late.  I can't promise more frequent posts in the near future, but I'm definitely not giving up on the site (in case anyone was wondering).

But I do have a few things to mention.

Chris Jaffe from The Hardball Times wrote a great article last week in which he lists his 10 greatest games in the Metrodome.  If you read the comment section, I felt there was one more worth mentioning.  But it's a great article and one I hope everyone takes a few minutes to read.  While the Metrodome hasn't been the best home, it's certainly had some great memories.

Andrew Kneeland is now blogging at TwinsTarget.com.  In fact, he's already posted his first One-on-One with Dan Osterbrock which I hope everyone checks out.  David Gorski is now blogging at Twins Fix (Andrew's old site) and is doing a great job so far.

Seth Stohs has been hosting a live podcast almost every night this past week.  So if you're looking for some great Twins talk, make sure to check out some of his past shows.

Brian Pietrzak wrote a great review of The Machine, written by everybody's favorite writer, Joe Posanski.  I already have my copy but I am going to finish up The Soul of Baseball (also written by Posnanski) first.

And finally, while he's been blogging for a few weeks now, I wanted to mention that Shawn Berg has started a blog called On the road with...  Make sure to head over there now as he's posting his good and bad Twins memories.

And finally, you can find me on Twitter at Twitter.com/JoshsThoughts or feel free to e-mail me at jajohnson021@yahoo.com

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