Launching Pad: Twins, Tigers reintroduce themselves

What to watch for in the major leagues today:

First of 19?

The Twins and Tigers are scheduled to meet 18 times this season, but that also was the case last season — when a 19th game was needed to decide the AL Central title. Minnesota’s 6-5, 12-inning win in that one-game playoff was the sixth matchup between the teams decided by one run and the fourth that went into extra innings.

Justin Morneau hopes to pick up where he left off against the Tigers.
Justin Morneau hopes to pick up where he left off against the Tigers.

Among the reasons the Twins were able to erase what was a 6 1/2-game division lead for the Tigers on Sept. 8: a 5-3 record vs. Detroit after Sept. 17. Making Minnesota’s late run even more impressive was that it did it without first baseman Justin Morneau, who didn’t play after Sept. 12 because of a back injury. In 11 games against Detroit last season, Morneau hit .340 with three homers and 10 RBIs.

Morneau and the Twins will open a three-game series at Comerica Park tonight.

Double-digit drive

Cardinals co-ace Chris Carpenter is coming off back-to-back outings with 10 strikeouts — the first time in his career he has accomplished that feat. He will try to make it a trifecta tonight when St. Louis continues a four-game series against Atlanta at Busch Stadium. Interestingly, Carpenter’s worst start last season came at home against the Braves, when he allowed seven earned runs in six innings.

AL East mismatch

The last-place Orioles set an all-time attendance low at Camden Yards earlier this season, but there should be plenty of fans in the seats tonight for the first of three against the world champion Yankees. Just don’t surprised if most of the additional fans are wearing pinstripes. And if 2009 is any indication, many of those fans will be cheering often for Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. In 18 games against Baltimore last season, Cano hit .478 with six homers and 17 RBIs.

Chris Bahr is Sporting News’ baseball editor. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

What to watch for in the major leagues today:

First of 19?

The Twins and Tigers are scheduled to meet 18 times this season, but that also was the case last season — when a 19th game was needed to decide the AL Central title. Minnesota’s 6-5, 12-inning win in that one-game playoff was the sixth matchup between the teams decided by one run and the fourth that went into extra innings.

Justin Morneau hopes to pick up where he left off against the Tigers.
Justin Morneau hopes to pick up where he left off against the Tigers.

Among the reasons the Twins were able to erase what was a 6 1/2-game division lead for the Tigers on Sept. 8: a 5-3 record vs. Detroit after Sept. 17. Making Minnesota’s late run even more impressive was that it did it without first baseman Justin Morneau, who didn’t play after Sept. 12 because of a back injury. In 11 games against Detroit last season, Morneau hit .340 with three homers and 10 RBIs.

Morneau and the Twins will open a three-game series at Comerica Park tonight.

Double-digit drive

Cardinals co-ace Chris Carpenter is coming off back-to-back outings with 10 strikeouts — the first time in his career he has accomplished that feat. He will try to make it a trifecta tonight when St. Louis continues a four-game series against Atlanta at Busch Stadium. Interestingly, Carpenter’s worst start last season came at home against the Braves, when he allowed seven earned runs in six innings.

AL East mismatch

The last-place Orioles set an all-time attendance low at Camden Yards earlier this season, but there should be plenty of fans in the seats tonight for the first of three against the world champion Yankees. Just don’t surprised if most of the additional fans are wearing pinstripes. And if 2009 is any indication, many of those fans will be cheering often for Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. In 18 games against Baltimore last season, Cano hit .478 with six homers and 17 RBIs.

Chris Bahr is Sporting News’ baseball editor. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

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