Tigers @ Twins (Friday-Sunday, 9/18-9/20)
With Detroit's 9-2, Thursday nooner loss to Kansas City, the Tigers now hold just a 4 game lead in the Central. The T.C. baseball-vibe has been dulled for some post-Labor Day; however the Twins have exercised some recent pluck with four straight wins.
With the respective injury losses of lead power threat Justin Morneau and top defensive infielder Joe Crede, it would seem the Twins would require some smoke-and-mirrors magic to somehow usurp their divisional deficit and turn this oft-confounding '09 campaign into a playoff season. But the reality is that the Boys have proven more "smoke" against the Tigers this year, having taken seven of our 11 contests against the longtime division leaders, who have held a stronghold on the Central zenith since mid-May.
And the "mirror" of the short-handed argument is somewhat lessoned when recognizing that Morneau hit just .201 with just 30 RBI since the All-Star break, while Crede appeared in just two games since August 21st.
Can the names of Buscher, Casilla, Tolbert, Punto, Young, and Duensing somehow propel the Twins to the second-season? The smart money would go the other way, but in baseball -- beyond all other sports -- there's no way to handicap a hot streak. With just 16 games to play, the Twins would probably need to win about 13 of those babies (including six of our seven remaining against the Tigers) to make their last season of Dome ball a playoff year.
But even despite the loss of pop in our lineup, note that the two clubs have combined for a zany 141 runs in their 11 contests thus far in '09. That clip of 12.8 per should likely be lessoned over the course of our latter seven versus Detroit, but even totals approaching that average will ensure that a bizarre season could be met with pleasantly peculiar results come the closure of this series, and the homestretch of the campaign. For the faithful: Hope is still held.
For pitching matchups, please click here.
Vikings @ Lions (Sunday, 12:00 p.m. CST)
Despite offering one of the NFL's finest stadiums, the Lions sport the league's most rancid product. They've lost a crazy 18 games in-a-row (tied for the fourth-longest streak in NFL history) and have won just one in their last 25 contests dating back to 2007. Personally, I look over their roster and see a team on the (slow) mend; however don't looking for their trend to bend in Week 2. Brad Childress is 5-1 lifetime against the Lions; he and the Purple should surely extend that mark to 6-1 on Sunday.
Brett Favre has won more games against Detroit (23) than against any other team in his now-19 year career. He's tossed for 8,254 yards and 54 touchdowns in 32 lifetimes games against the Lions; the numbers take on near-laughable proportions when considering those marks represent more yards than Washington Redskins starter Jason Campbell has tossed in his entire career; as per the scores -- the 54 is just one fewer than Chicago QB Jay Cutler has thrown for in his 37 lifetime starts. Of note: Detroit has allowed 300-yard passing efforts in their last four games dating to last year.
On the ground, S.I. coverboy Adrian Peterson has averaged just a shade below 100 yards per effort (99.5) in his four career games versus the Lions. Considering that Detroit gave up 143 rush yards to career-backup Mike Bell in Week 1, look for either Favre or A.P. to wholly feast on a Lions defense that ranked dead last in points-per-game last season at 32.3.
Not that all is forever lost for the Lions -- seriously. The offense features some young talent in running back Kevin Smith, wideout "Megatron" Johnson (sporting 3 TD's in four lifetimes games versus the Vikings) and #1 pick Matt Stafford at quarterback. Stafford's QB rating of 27.4 was the league's second-worst in Week 1, but look for him to still find a way to get a few balls to Johnson.
Of (slightly) more sanguine note for the Motor City Kitties: Detroit is now led by d-minded head coach Jim Schwartz, who should continue to improve upon the Lions' impressive ability to snag some takeaways from opposing offenses. The Lions ranked fourth in the league last year in Forced Fumbles and created a solid three takeaways in their Week 1 loss to the Saints. Just a little meat to slap on the Detroit bone -- nonetheless, look for the Vikings to return home 2-0.