MINNEAPOLIS — The Detroit Tigers’ lineup has been weakened with the trade of slugger J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Detroit is hoping another big bat isn’t out as it faces the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
Miguel Cabrera left Friday’s game with a right clavicle contusion after a ground ball bounced high and hit him in the chest. X-rays were negative and Cabrera is considered day-to-day.
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“We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “I don’t expect it to be anything long-term.”
Detroit built a 5-0 lead while Cabrera was in the game and held on in Friday’s series opener for a 6-3 victory. While the Tigers are considered sellers with the trade deadline upcoming, Minnesota is still in playoff contention. However, Detroit has won five of the seven games between the teams this season.
The Tigers will have right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (6-7, 5.58 ERA) on the mound Saturday while the Twins counter with right-hander Kyle Gibson (5-8, 6.29)
Both veteran starters have struggled mightily this season, but Zimmermann is coming off perhaps his best outing. He allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings to beat Kansas City and his control was pinpoint. He threw 79 of his 97 pitches for strikes to win for the first time in seven starts.
“I looked up in the fourth or fifth and saw how many balls I threw and couldn’t hardly believe it,” said Zimmermann, who threw first-pitch strikes to 24 of 28 batters (85.7 percent).
Zimmermann is 3-1 with a 4.56 ERA in four career starts against Minnesota. He took the loss in his only outing against the Twins this season when he gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings on April 13.
One key for Zimmermann will be trying to slow Minnesota slugger Miguel Sano, who is batting .317 in 18 career games against Detroit at Target Field. Sano had two hits on line drives in Friday’s win, driving in a run.
“He keeps grinding,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I always say that he’s got a really good idea of how to use his skill set. You watch in practice the things that he does. He goes the other way the first at-bat and then gets the line drive to left-center in an RBI situation and keeping his swing short. Those are all good signs for him.”
A Tigers slugger had the best game on Friday night, though, as Victor Martinez homered twice for his first multi-homer game of the season. Martinez has hit 11 home runs in 52 career games at Target Field and is batting .369 at the park.
Martinez has also hit safely in 11 of his past 13 games, batting .347 during that stretch.
“He’s been swinging the bat pretty well here the last 10 days or so,” Ausmus said. “He’s a good hitter. He’s been a good hitter for a long time.”
Martinez is 9-for-30 (.300) in his career off Gibson, but is looking for his first homer.
Gibson has lost his last two starts and four of his last five decisions. He gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in six innings against the Houston Astros in his last outing.
Gibson did not surrender a hit after the fourth when Houston left fielder Norichika Aoki produced a two-run double that gave Houston a 3-2 lead. Two of the four batters that Gibson walked eventually scored.
“I was appreciative that he let me go back out there in the seventh,” Gibson said of Twins manager Paul Molitor. “I felt really good and was glad I was able to get that ground ball from Aoki in the sixth, and I was just glad that he sent me back out there and gave me a chance to compete.”