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Apr 11, 2024 3:04 am

Tigers, Twins hope rain holds off for series opener

tarik skubal

The Detroit Tigers did their best work last season against American League Central opponents. They are set to begin a four-game series against the defending AL Central champions, though the weather may not cooperate.

The Minnesota Twins and the Tigers are scheduled to begin their set with a Thursday afternoon contest. However, rain is in the forecast for both Thursday and Friday, which could lead to postponements.

Detroit also will play four times against the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers during an eight-game homestand.

Last season, the Tigers compiled a 35-17 record against the Twins, Cleveland Guardians, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox while finishing in second place. The Tigers began this season with a three-game road sweep of the White Sox.

“Every game’s important, especially against a good team in the division. But we’re not really looking at it like that,” Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson said. “There’s always an emphasis to win every single day.”

Beginning last season, MLB revamped its scheduling format, resulting in fewer divisional matchups. Teams play division opponents 13 times apiece instead of 19.

“I think the focus is more just winning. The schedule’s a little different now,” Detroit ace left-hander Tarik Skubal said. “It’s not like you play in division a ton. I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter, because it does matter how you play your division. But I think with the new schedule, winning is just very important, no matter who you’re playing.”

Skubal (1-0, 2.92 ERA) is scheduled to start on Thursday. He tossed six scoreless innings against the White Sox in the Tigers’ season opener. However, Skubal failed to hold a three-run lead in the home opener on Friday against the Oakland A’s. He was charged with four runs in 6 1/3 innings, though the Tigers pulled out a 5-4 victory.

Skubal has made nine career starts against the Twins, going 2-3 with a 3.91 ERA.

He will be opposed by Pablo Lopez (1-1, 2.84), who will also be making his third start. Lopez held Kansas City to one run in seven innings en route to an Opening Day win. He gave up four runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings during a loss to Cleveland on April 4.

Lopez is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts against the Tigers, both of them last season.

Detroit had an off day on Wednesday after ending a three-game skid with a 5-3 road victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

The Twins have struggled on offense thus far, but they showed signs of coming around while salvaging the finale of a three-game series vs. the Dodgers. They eked out the win behind six hits and five walks.

“There were a lot of quality at-bats. Some of them led to us getting on base, some of them led to homers,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We made their life more difficult today than we did in the first two games. We pitched well. We played what I would call pretty good, clean baseball.”

Leadoff hitter Edouard Julien, who had only three hits entering the game, hit two solo homers and also scored the team’s other run.

“Those were great swings,” Baldelli said. “When he’s going good, he’s really seeing the ball to that depth and hitting the ball hard to the left side of the field. Seeing that is really a wonderful sign for us.”

–Field Level Media

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