Despite being tied for last place in the American League Central, the Minnesota Twins have given the first-place Detroit Tigers everything they can handle this season.
The division rivals have split their first 16 meetings - much to the chagrin of the Tigers, who saw their lead dip to one over Chicago following Friday's 4-2 setback. Detroit will look to rebound on Saturday when it sends ace Justin Verlander to the mound.
Ryan Doumit was not going to be denied. After snapping a scoreless deadlock with a two-run homer, Doumit added a two-run double to put an end to another tie in the eighth inning. Minnesota has won the last three meetings between the clubs - highlighted by a doubleheader sweep on Sunday.
Pitching matchup: Tigers RH Justin Verlander (16-8, 2.72 ERA) vs. Twins RH P.J. Walters (2-4, 5.88)
Verlander recorded his third straight victory after striking out eight in as many innings in a 6-2 triumph over Kansas City on Monday. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP improved to 11-7 in his career versus the Twins after pitching a complete-game gem on July 4. Verlander permitted one run on four hits and struck out seven in the 5-1 victory.
Walters hasn't won since mid-May, but one of the two victories came at the expense of Detroit. The 27-year-old recorded a quality start - despite yielding three solo homers - in the 4-3 triumph on May 17. Back to the present, Walters is winless in his last eight outings - although he yielded just one run in six innings in a no-decision versus the Tigers on Sunday.
Detroit's Max Scherzer, who was scratched from Friday's start, admitted that his sore deltoid felt better. Despite the positive report, manager Jim Leyland said that he's not counting on Scherzer to pitch against Kansas City on Wednesday.
Minnesota LF Josh Willingham missed his third straight game on Friday with a sprained left shoulder. He'll likely remain a spectator for the remainder of the season.
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera collected two hits on Friday to raise his league-leading average to .327. The Venezuelan is 3-for-10 with a homer in his career versus Walters.