The last time the Minnesota Twins weren't in first place was April 12, just one week into the season. Now in the final days of June, the Twins will take on the Detroit Tigers with their divisional lead on the line in game one. After leading comfortably through May, hot streaks by both the Tigers and Chicago White Sox have the AL Central close atop the standings with the three teams separated by just 1.5 games.
While starter Carl Pavano has surged in the month of June as the team's best starter, Francisco Liriano hasn't been far behind with his production. In four starts this month, Liriano is just 1-2 despite posting a 2.67 ERA and striking out 34 hitters in 27 innings of work. Earlier this season, when Liriano took on Detroit, he lasted eight innings, allowing no runs while scattering four hits. In his career against the Tigers, Liriano is 4-1 with a 3.94 ERA in 12 appearances.
As the Tigers attempt to take control of the division, they send a familiar face to the mound in Jeremy Bonderman. The 27-year old righty has made 16 career appearances against the Twins, going 3-6 with a 5.32 ERA along the way. This season, Bonderman has done exceptionally well at times, putting forth eight quality starts in his 14 total outings while allowing more than four runs just twice.
After going 3-6 on their roadtrip and just 8-10 in interleague action this season, the Twins will finally be returning to the friendly confines of Target Field. With a tough upcoming schedule that includes Tampa Bay entering town for a weekend series, it won't be an easy task for the Twins to protect their small half-game lead in the division.
First pitch tonight is at 7:10 CDT on FOX Sports North.