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5 Things to Watch for in Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers Series

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5 Things to Watch for in Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers Series

5 Things to Watch for in Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers Series
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Entering play on Friday, the Minnesota Twins are sporting a record of 29-34 and are currently six and a half games back of the division leading Detroit Tigers. Fortunately for the Twins, the team they are chasing is also their scheduled opponent for this weekend as it should be a great weekend for baseball at Target Field.

The Twins enter the series coming off a series win over Philadelphia, but have to be coming in slightly disappointed after they blew a two run lead in the series finale Thursday night which cost them the series sweep. With every game becoming increasingly important to the Twins and their quest to get back to .500 and reenter the playoff conversation, games they should have won—like the one on Thursday night—take on an increased value based on the competition level and value of a win in today’s game. It will be important to see how the Twins rebound when taking on their division rivals whom have had relatively good success against them over the past few seasons; however, if the Twins want to become series threats, the Tigers are the type of team they must overcome.

The Tigers are entering the series with a 36-27 record and are losers of two of their last three games, all by one run. The Tigers have been perched comfortably at the top of the division for most of the season, but haven’t been nearly as successful of a team on the road as they have been at home. On the season, the Tigers are 22-10 at home, but only 14-18 on the road entering play Friday night.

With every division game becoming increasingly important as the season moves forward, this weekend’s series is sure to have its fair share of storylines. Read on to find out the top five things to watch in this weekend’s matchup between the Twins and Tigers.

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5. Can the Tigers Win on the Road?

5. Can the Tigers Win on the Road?
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Certainly losing two out of three on the road in Kansas City by one run doesn’t make winning on the road any easier, but the Tigers inability to win on the road so far isn’t as big of a problem as we may think. The reason for their struggles on their road is actually related to another topic I have listed higher on this list of things to watch, so read on to find out what that is. The Tigers did lose two out of three to the Twins at Target Field to open the season this year and will again look to rebound and win the series this upcoming weekend in Minnesota.

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4. Will the Twins Take Advantage of Avoiding Tigers Top Two Pitchers?

4. Will the Twins Take Advantage of Avoiding Tigers Top Two Pitchers?
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers feature one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball and could see as many as four of their starters reach the All-Star Game this summer which is very impressive. For this weekend, the Twins are fortunate enough to avoid the two big guns in the Tigers’ pitching arsenal in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, but will have a tough task in game two going up against Anibal Sanchez. The Twins must take advantage of their chances against Sanchez, Rick Porcello and Doug Fister because it won’t be often that the Twins get to avoid the top two Tigers’ starters in the same series. Not that this will be an easy task without them, but this is as good of a situation that can be hoped for if you are the Twins’ lineup.

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3. Can the Twins Contain Miguel Cabrera?

3. Can the Twins Contain Miguel Cabrera?
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

A quick answer to the question of whether or not the Twins can contain Cabrera would be no; instead, the Twins should hope to minimize Cabrera the best they can. Arguably the best hitter in baseball, Cabrera does a great job adjusting to any pitcher and is a handful to get out, especially with the solid protection of hitters around him; it truly is pick your poison when it comes to the Tigers’ lineup. Cabrera has dominated the Twins during his career and in 103 games against the Twins is sporting a .325 batting average with 27 HR, 98 RBI, a .608 slugging percentage and a .402 OBP. Needless to say, containing Cabrera is no easy task; but if the Twins can minimize the runners on base when Cabrera steps to the plate, it will go a long way towards them doing well in this series.

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2. Will the Twins’ Rotation Continue to Pitch Well?

2. Will the Twins’ Rotation Continue to Pitch Well?
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins’ rotation has pitched better over the last few weeks and a lot of that has to do with the promotions of starters Samuel Deduno and P.J. Walters, both of whom are starting in this weekend’s series. If the starters can keep the game close heading into the later innings, I am confident in the bullpen’s ability to win the Twins a couple of games this series. However, facing a lineup like the Tigers is no simple task and the starters will need to make sure they are hitting their spots and not putting a lot of hitters on with free passes when the middle of the Tigers’ lineup is coming up.

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1. Can the Tigers Bullpen Hold a Lead?

1. Can the Tigers Bullpen Hold a Lead?
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This has been the storyline for the Tigers all year and is a huge reason for their struggles on the road and in their losses at home. The bullpen has been atrocious and very unstable at the back end with closer Jose Valverde. No lead is safe with Valverde and others taking the ball in the later innings so it will not be a surprise to see if the Tigers elect to have their starters go deep into ballgames as much as possible. If the Twins can get to the Tigers’ bullpen early and often during this series, it could be their best chance for winning the most games during this important June series.