Detroit Tigers (-128) at Minnesota Twins (-138, 8 o/u)
When Justin Verlander (0-2, 6.75 ERA) returned from injury, the Detroit Tigers (44-41, 22-18 Away) expected their ace to pick up where he left off a season ago. Instead, the 32-year-old’s return has been rocky, to say the least, with no wins and an ERA nearing seven in his first four starts. Tonight, the big lefty will look to put his shortened season on the right track when he faces one of the surprise teams of the season, the Minnesota Twins (46-40, 28-16 Home), at Target Field in Minneapolis (8:10 PM Eastern).
Verlander was hit hard in his last outing, allowing seven hits and seven runs over five innings against the big bats of the Toronto Blue Jays. That said, he showed signs that he’s piecing everything together, cruising through the first four innings before giving up six earned in the fifth.
Verlander tried to focus on the positives after the game.
“You can look at this in two ways,” Verlander said to the Associated Press. “You can look at the fifth inning and look at it negatively, or you can look at the rest of it, and look at it positively. My stuff is better than it has been in a couple years. I just need to fine-tune it.”
With Verlander struggling and two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera on the DL, the Tigers have fallen seven games behind the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central standings. They also sit 1.5 games behind the Twins. They were able to narrow the gap on Minnesota last night, though, with a 4-2 win, getting eight innings of four-hit ball from David Price.
This evening, Minnesota will counter Verlander with the controversial Ervin Santana (0-0, 2.25 ERA). The veteran righty is returning from an 80-game suspension for PED use and has made just one start in 2015, an eight-inning, three-hit, two-run no-decision against the Kansas City Royals.
“That was impressive for a guy who hadn’t pitched in a major league game,” Twins outfielder Torii Hunter told MLB’s official website after Santana’s first start. “It looked like the Santana of old.”
Santana has good numbers in his most recent starts against Detroit, going 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his last nine against the Tigers. But due to the suspension, he hasn’t faced Detroit since 2013.
While Justin Verlander will eventually win his first game, it won’t be tonight. The Twins have been excellent at home all season and Santana looks to be on better form.
Pick: Twins (-138).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)