Game 96 Preview: Tigers look to split short weekend series with Twins

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers could not get things going at home against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in the opener of a short two-game weekend set as Michael Pineda got shelled again and the offense simply could not keep up with the surging Twinkies, taking an 8-4 loss. The bludgeoning came just after the worst outing of his career the last time he took the mound and his team did not respond at the plate until the later innings, putting up a futile three-spot in the ninth to at least finish the game on a high note.

The objective on Sunday is to prevent a weekend sweep and a three-game losing streak by getting back on the winning path. The Motor City Kitties have a better chance this time around with another AAAA arm that has helped fill in some gaps this season taking the bump but the boys from the Twin Cities have a hurler on deck who has given the Tigers fits in the past. Take a look below at the billing for today’s matinee affair.

Detroit Tigers (38-57) vs. Minnesota Twins (51-44)

Time/Place: 1:40 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: Twinkie Town
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchups: RHP Rony García (3-2, 4.28 ERA) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (4-3, 3.71 ERA)

Game 96 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
García 48.1 25.0 6.8 4.42 0.3
Gray 63.0 21.8 6.5 3.50 1.3

Rony García gets back to major league action after spending some time on the injured list with right shoulder soreness heading into July. Now well rested after that IL stint and the All-Star break, the Dominican right-hander looks to get back to what he had done prior to getting shelved with a bum shoulder — help the Tigers rack up some wins.

The 24-year-old’s switch from the bullpen to a starting role at the end of May was not all fun and games, as he took a pounding in his second start for his first loss of the season. But it has been in his last three starts that García has shone, racking up a tidy 2.76 ERA that appears to be luckier than a leprechaun in contrast to a 4.95 FIP along with a .202 batting average on balls in play, while allowing 12 hits and four walks (and a hit batter) while striking out 12 over 16 13 innings; he also surrendered three home runs. García earned the win in all three games despite playing with fire, only allowing a single run in at least five frames in his last two appearances.

Sonny Gray enters the fray in his tenth big league season and first with Minnesota. Detroit fans probably do not want to remember the first and only time the 32-year-old faced their beloved squad, but back on May 24, he spun seven innings of shutout ball on four hits and a walk while striking out 10 Tigers. It would also come as no surprise to that same cohort that those results were the best this summer for the veteran right-hander, and to add insult to injury, it is one of only two times he reached the seven-inning mark in 13 starts.

Key Matchup: García vs. his magic act

Before heading to the injured list, the Tigers’ young hurler was working some serious voodoo on the mound and the results were good enough to stack a few strikes in the win column. However, as his peripherals suggest, he was living on the edge the entire time and his little run was hardly sustainable, but his team can use whatever they can get right now. Five innings of one- or two-run ball is as much as one can ask of him, but with a pitcher who has tamed the Tigers in the past taking the hill for the Twins, it is looking pretty grim once again for the Olde English D.

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