The Detroit Tigers gave Miguel Cabrera the day off on Thursday. With the powerful Minnesota Twins coming to town, Cabrera will be back in the lineup on Friday for the series opener.
Manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t play Cabrera on Thursday afternoon following a night game. Cabrera has been dealing with a chronic right knee pain and learned this week he’d have to become a full-time designated hitter.
The Tigers scored one run in the last two games of a three-game series against Tampa Bay. Cabrera hit a grand slam and drove in five runs in the series opener, a 9-6 Detroit win.
“He would have been available (to pinch-hit) if I could have gotten the right situation,” Gardenhire said. “He did some swinging in the cage and everything felt pretty good.”
Gardenhire’s team has lacked pop throughout the season. The matinee game was no different, as it went scoreless in the final eight innings. The Rays put the game away with two eighth-inning homers.
“We were in the ballgame all the way until the end,” Gardenhire said. “It was 3-1 and we had plenty of chances. We got men on a couple of times and had chances to do some things, we hit some balls hard. You’ve just got to kind of live with it and move forward.”
Detroit ace Matthew Boyd (5-4, 3.01 ERA), Friday’s scheduled starter, pitched five-plus innings in his last outing at Atlanta on Sunday. The left-hander was charged with three runs while striking out nine. Boyd has averaged eight strikeouts over his last four starts.
He’s faced Minnesota more than any other team in his career. Over 16 career starts, he has a 6-5 record and 4.38 ERA against the Twins.
Right-hander Michael Pineda is expected to be activated off the 10-day IL and start for Minnesota. He was placed on the IL late last month with right knee tendinitis. Devin Smeltzer made two starts in his place.
Pineda (4-3, 5.34 ERA) had two wins and two no-decisions in his last four starts. He allowed three earned runs in each of those outings, most recently on May 27 against Milwaukee.
He has already faced the Tigers twice this season, giving up three runs in six innings each time. He’s 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA in six career starts against them.
Leadoff hitter Max Kepler continued Minnesota’s power rampage on Thursday, blasting three homers in a 5-4 win over Cleveland. The Twins have 117 homers in 61 games and are on pace to break the major-league home run record.
Shortstop Jorge Polanco will look to continue his 21-game on-base streak. Polanco, who had one hit on Thursday, is one of several Twins who have put themselves in the discussion for the All-Star Game.
“Just off the top of my head, I’d have to say that we have a number of guys that have made (a case) — they’ve had great years,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve had guys that I think have had All-Star caliber years and would have a wonderful argument, a number of them, for playing back (in Cleveland) when that All-Star Game hits for sure.”
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