After getting a clutch win to exit Chicago, the Detroit Tigers came home looking to build some positive momentum.
It happened with the arms, as Drew Smyly tossed a one run, four hit gem in six innings, but failed to happen with the bats, as Detroit only put up six hits and failed to score a run against Kyle Gibson or any other Minnesota pitcher.
After the Kansas City Royals' fifth win in a row, things are beginning to get a bit snug at the top of the Central Division, with Detroit only 1.5 games ahead. Will the offense awaken on Father's Day weekend? Here's a primer.
1. Can The Offense Get Back On Track Against Minnesota? Since scoring nine runs in a romp over the Twins on May 10, the Tigers have scored three total in the last two games against Minnesota. Perhaps there's some good news on the horizon, as Detroit didn't struggle to score on Samuel Deduno earlier this season, putting up three runs but falling apart late leading to the loss. Austin Jackson, despite another rough 0-3 night, also enjoys hitting Deduno to a .417 clip with one home run and two RBI. Perhaps knowing this, and seeing Deduno's elevated 4.45 ERA will provide the Tigers with a tad of much-needed confidence heading into the batters box on Saturday.
2. Home Is Where The Heart Is. Though Detroit lost the opener to the Twins on Friday night, they still maintain a .500 record at home (16-16), and hit .284 at Comerica Park as a team, which is the best average in the American League. Despite the troubles lately, those numbers itself seem to indicate a turnaround could be on the horizon, especially with Detroit's next six games at home.
3. Alex Avila With Momentum. Avila collected two hits in last night's loss, and is seeing his average creep up a bit, now at .225. To provide the bottom part of the order with some teeth, Detroit needs Avila to do better. Problem is, the turnaround has been slow and painful. Saturday afternoon, Avila will hit eighth, looking to continue the climb back up to collecting a respectable batting average.
4. Take A Walk. Detroit's key to beating the Twins and getting the offense back on track might revolve around patience. Minnesota has issued only 182 walks this season, which is the fourth fewest margin in baseball. The Tigers are known as a hack happy team, so patience might be the only way for the team to find their way out of their mess and manufacture a few much-needed runs.
5. Post-Shutout Shuteye. The Twins, though they shut out the Tigers on Friday night and have collected six already this season, have a habit of struggling in the wake of such a performance. Minnesota is just 2-3 following a shutout this season, proving that even if the Tigers are struggling, beating them a second consecutive time might be more difficult than first thought.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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