DETROIT – When the Detroit Tigers (34-28) returned home for extended stretches over the past five seasons, fans have watched the team rip off countless winning streaks in the friendly confines of Comerica Park. When the Tigers played in Detroit they expected to win, and they did so to the tune of 50 or more home wins in each of the last five seasons.
This year has been a much different story.
Detroit owns a 4-10 record in its last 14 home games, dropping the season mark to just 16-15 in Comerica Park. At their current pace the Tigers would finish roughly 42-39 at home, which would be their worst record in Detroit since 2008, when the team finished in last place.
Luckily for first-year manager Brad Ausmus, his team owns a respectable 18-13 mark on the road, capped by the first career complete game by Max Scherzer on Thursday night against the Chicago White Sox. The victory helped Detroit maintain a slim 2.5-game lead in the American League Central Division, with the last-place Minnesota Twins (31-33) just four games behind.
On Friday those Twins will battle the Tigers in the first of a three-game series. Kyle Gibson will toe the rubber for Minnesota, looking to build off of a seven-inning shutout in his last appearance.
TV: 7:08 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Detroit
Gibson has struggled with consistency in his second Major League season, allowing five or more earned runs in four starts since April 22 despite an overall 3.91 ERA.
Perhaps the culprit of those struggles is Gibson's staggeringly low strikeout rate. The 26-year-old owns the third lowest strikeouts per nine innings rate in the entire MLB, fanning an average of just over 4.5 batters. In his last outing Gibson recorded a season-high with just five strikeouts against the Houston Astros.
Gibson struggled in his only start against Detroit this season, surrendering six runs in two innings. The Tigers scored all six runs in the second inning, culminating with a Miguel Cabrera three-run blast to right field.
Detroit's Drew Smyly will oppose Gibson after picking up the win last Friday with his fourth quality start of the season. Smyly beat the Twins once in three 2012 starts before dominating them in a relief role in 2013. As a team the Twins hit .174 with no homers against the 24-year-old.
After three games against Minnesota over the weekend the Tigers will finish a seven-game home stand against the Kansas City Royals.