Tigers hitters look to stay in groove against Twins
Despite some inconsistent results for the Detroit Tigers lately, a number of their hitters have been in a groove. They figure to have a good chance to stay hot Friday night (6 p.m. pregame, 7:08 first pitch on FOX Sports Detroit) considering how much Minnesota Twins starter Kyle Gibson has struggled on the road.
Detroit (34-28) snapped a three-game skid behind Max Scherzer’s first career complete game in a 4-0 victory over the White Sox on Thursday. Victor Martinez hit his 16th homer and his third during a seven-game hitting streak, while Miguel Cabrera drove in two runs and is 10 for 23 during a six-game streak.
Martinez has three home runs and seven RBIs in his last seven matchups with the Twins, and Austin Jackson is batting .424 during a 13-game hitting streak against them. Jackson is 10 for 21 in his last seven games overall.
Gibson (5-5, 3.91 ERA) turned in an impressive outing his last time out, allowing three hits over seven innings in an 8-0 home win over Houston on Saturday.
However, he’s 0-4 with an 8.61 ERA in five road outings since winning his first one April 5. The right-hander has posted quality starts in just two of his 11 career road games and was tagged for six runs and seven hits, including a homer by Cabrera, in a career-worst two innings of a 9-3 loss at Detroit on May 10.
"I don’t know what it is. I’m just comfortable throwing here (at Target Field)," Gibson said. "I’m definitely comfortable on the road as well, and I don’t think the numbers really get in my head – I’m still making pitches on the road. Maybe just not as many in big situations like I do at home."
Gibson may be on to something, as opponents have hit .375 against him with runners in scoring position on the road but just .107 in Minneapolis.
The Twins (31-33) have also enjoyed solid contributions from up and down their order recently. Kendrys Morales was 3 for 5 with three RBIs in Wednesday’s 7-2 win at Toronto and is 6 for 13 in three games with Minnesota. Rookie Danny Santana was 2 for 5 and is batting .412 with nine RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.
Josh Willingham has hit safely in 14 of 15 while slugging .720 with 17 RBIs, though he’s 1 for 24 over his last seven games versus Detroit.
Brian Dozier is expected to be ready for the series opener after leaving Wednesday’s win in the fourth inning with a sore lower back. Dozier, who had homered in each of his previous two games, has four home runs in his last 12 contests against the Tigers.
Left-hander Drew Smyly (3-4, 3.81) is on the mound for Detroit after ending a five-start winless skid last Friday. He limited Boston to two runs – one earned – in six innings in a 6-2 victory.
Smyly made 10 relief appearances versus the Twins last year, posting a 2.08 ERA, after going 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in three starts against them in 2012.
Santana is 8 for 17 against left-handers.
Minnesota won three of the season’s first five meetings, including two of three in Detroit.