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News » Tigers-Twins Preview 2009-05-12

Tigers-Twins Preview 2009-05-12

Tigers-Twins Preview 2009-05-12
Joe Mauer hasn't looked the slightest bit rusty since returning to the Minnesota Twins' lineup at the start of the month. The Twins hope he'll continue to contribute as they try to cool the surging Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers go for their seventh win in nine games Tuesday night when they open a three-game road series against Mauer and the AL Central rival Twins.

Mauer missed Minnesota's first 22 games while recovering from offseason kidney surgery. The Twins (15-17) likely would have been forgiving if the All-Star catcher got off to a slow start without the benefit of spring training, but Mauer hasn't missed a beat, batting .485 with three homers, 10 RBIs and seven runs scored over his first nine games. He's 9 for 16 during a streak of four consecutive multihit performances.

"To predict what I've done so far, I probably wouldn't have seen that," Mauer said over the weekend. "It's just seeing the ball real well."

However, the two games in which Mauer has been held without a hit were against Detroit (17-13). He was 0 for 7 with three strikeouts as the clubs split that series.

Mauer batted .424 with one home run, 15 RBIs and 15 runs scored in 17 games against the Tigers in 2008, striking out only seven times.

The Tigers hope to keep Mauer at bay again as they try to continue their recent hot streak with a season-high fourth straight win. They outscored Cleveland 10-3 during a three-game sweep over the weekend, capping the series with a 5-3 victory Sunday.

Detroit starters allowed one run over 21 innings in the series and are 8-4 with a 2.76 ERA over the team's last 14 games.

The Tigers' recent success hasn't escaped the Twins' notice.

"They're playing good, their bullpen is shored up, their starting rotation is pitching really well," Minnesota shortstop Nick Punto told the team's official Web site. "They have the offense. Hopefully we can hold that offense down and score some runs."

Minnesota will try to do so against Armando Galarraga (3-2, 4.08 ERA), who has been a weak link in Detroit's rotation lately. After going 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA over his first four starts, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two May outings. He was reached for six runs in six innings of a 6-0 loss at the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

Galarraga is 0-4 with a 5.23 ERA in six games - five starts - against the Twins, and Mauer is 4 for 12 with four walks against him.

Galarraga gave up six runs in six innings in his last start at the Metrodome, where the Twins are 11-9 this season. They were close to completing a three-game sweep of Seattle before a collapse by the bullpen ended with a 5-3 loss Sunday.

"The makeup of this baseball team, for a while, it's not one that is going to roll over and give in," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We know this is where we make up ground, at home, if we don't do something on the road. This ballclub knows that this is our ballpark, we don't let too many people come in here and push us around. I guarantee you there is a lot of pride out there."

Kevin Slowey (4-1, 5.50) will take the mound for the Twins hoping to bounce back from his first loss of the year. The right-hander gave up three runs and got no run support in three innings of a 4-1 loss at Baltimore on Wednesday before a lengthy rain delay ended his night.

Slowey is 2-0 despite his 5.74 ERA in three starts against Detroit, all Minnesota wins.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 12, 2009

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