Not yet, but with Detroit coming to town retaining a one-game lead, you could be hearing that phrase as early as tonight. In fact, if you don’t hear it Friday night, you might need to wait a while, because the Tigers are bringing out their big guns for games two and three. Granted, it's a pitifully low standard, but a game for first place, even in April, allows a guy to fool oneself that it means something. That’s my #5 reason to grab a great seat to tonight’s game at Target Field . But there are more:
#4 – Get ‘Em BEFORE They’re Hot
The Tigers scored the second most runs in MLB last year. This year they’re 27th on that list.
Read that last sentence again.
To be sure, they had some defections from their lineup, starting with Prince Fielder, who was traded to Texas for Ian Kinsler - but Kinsler really replaces Omar Infante, who signed with the Royals. The Tigers also lost Jhonny Peralta and then lost his replacement, Jose Iglesias, for the season with stress fractures in both of his legs. Their team OPS is almost 50 points lower than they finished last year.
But that OPS is still 732, which is slightly higher than the Twins 730 OPS, and would be good for eighth in MLB. Detroit’s real problem is that they have only hit .212 with runners in scoring position. Coincidentally (or not) that also ranks 27th in MLB.
That’s not likely to continue. A team that’s hitting .265 overall (6th place) is likely to see their clutch hitting progress to the mean, and with it, their offense. A turn against the Twins starting rotation might be just the thing to spark them. So I'm getting a ticket for Friday, before the Tigers get hot.
#3 – Avoid the Aces
The Tigers have a hell of a poker hand, getting dealt three aces in Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander. The latter two will take the hill on Saturday and Sunday vs. Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson. I like a challenge as much as the next guy, but criminy….
Friday night’s game is a little more reasonable. Kevin Correia, who is the heavy favorite to win “Twins Man-crush Who They Will Angrily Justify Re-signing To A Stupid Contract This Offseason” Award, will face Rick Porcello. Porcello is no slouch – he’s sporting a nifty 3.15 ERA this year – but he also hasn’t won a Cy Young Award or ERA title yet. I’ll choose the game he starts.
#2 – Sun > Rain
I wouldn’t mind seeing Verlander pitch on Sunday, but there is no guarantee that we would see him pitch. Paul Douglas is describing it as “Cloudy and Soggy. I’ll take the highs of 65 on Friday and Saturday instead, thank you very much.
#1 – The Offseason In Minnesota Is Long
No, I’m not talking about the fact that the Twins season has basically been over by mid-August for the last three years. I’m talking about the insanely long and bitter winter, when wearing a Twins cap for any extended period of time leads to your ears CLIMBING INSIDE OF YOUR HEAD TO BEAT YOU ABOUT THE BRAIN REPEATEDLY.
The Twins have a solution and it’s being given to the first 10,000 fans who show up to the Friday night game where the Twins take back the AL Central, however briefly. We’ll see you there.