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News » Tigers-Twins Preview 2008-06-29

Tigers-Twins Preview 2008-06-29

Tigers-Twins Preview 2008-06-29
The Minnesota Twins know they're playing some of the best baseball in the majors as the season reaches its halfway point. The Detroit Tigers may be the only team playing better.

The Tigers, winners of five in a row and 15 of 18, and the Twins, winners of 11 of 12, square off Monday at the Metrodome in the first of three games between teams with their sights set on the AL Central lead.

Detroit (41-40) lost its first seven games of 2008 after many considered manager Jim Leyland's team the preseason favorite to represent the AL in the World Series.

The Tigers were still floundering through the first week of June, with a 24-36 record that had them just a 1/2-game ahead of Kansas City in the AL Central cellar.

But they're 17-4 since June 7 - including five straight victories - and can match their longest winning streak of the season on Monday in Minneapolis.

"We've dug ourselves a pretty substantial hole, and we got a lot of work to do," closer Todd Jones told the team's official Web site. "But we have all the right parts that we can overcome it."

Detroit moved over .500 for the first time this season on Sunday, finishing off a sweep of Colorado with a 4-3 win. Kenny Rogers pitched six innings for his sixth win of the season.

"I think we understand we're not doing anything we can't do the rest of the year," Rogers said.

The Tigers are hitting an impressive .326 with 24 homers and 100 runs scored in their last 18 games, but they'll be without their top run producer for at least the next two weeks. Maggilo Ordonez, who leads the team with 50 RBIs, was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with a pulled oblique muscle.

Detroit will send its most consistent starter to the mound in the series opener. Armando Galarraga (7-2, 3.32 ERA) was called up in mid-April to replace the injured Dontrelle Willis, but he's turned into the Tigers' best pitcher.

Galarraga hasn't lost since May 23, and is 4-0 with a 2.86 ERA since then. His last outing wasn't nearly as impressive though, when he lasted just 4 2-3 innings and allowed five runs - four earned - in an 8-7 win over St. Louis on Wednesday.

He's also struggled against the Twins - his only two major league losses have come against Minnesota (45-37). He gave up five runs in six innings - walking five - in a 9-4 loss on May 23.

The Twins had their 10-game winning streak snapped on Saturday against Milwaukee, but rebounded on Sunday with a 5-0 victory behind a three-hitter from Kevin Slowey.

"You want to come back and prove to yourself we're just as good as we were two days ago," Slowey said after Minnesota finished up its interleague slate a major league-best 14-4.

The Twins have given up 30 total runs while winning 11 of their last 12, and will turn to Glen Perkins (4-2, 4.47) to keep that streak going. Perkins has given up three runs apiece in his last four starts, and he's won his last two.

He went five innings in his latest outing, a 9-3 win at San Diego on Wednesday.

"The good sign for our young pitchers is that he hung in there," manager Rod Gardenhire told the Twins' official Web site. "He was missing in and out, but he made enough pitches to get through it."

Like the Tigers, Minnesota also placed an outfielder on the DL on Sunday. Michael Cuddyer, who is hitting .252 with three homers and 35 RBIs, has a strained left index finger.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: June 30, 2008

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