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05/02/10 5:44 PM ET

Twins, Tigers renew old rivalry in new park

It was a true must-win game, the fate of the season riding on one result. Minnesota and Detroit will face each other in Minnesota on Monday for the first time since engaging in a play-in game for the playoffs last season, a confrontation won by the Twins. The stakes will be somewhat smaller on Monday, but both teams know they will be facing their biggest rival for a playoff berth.

That fact was immediately evident last fall, when the Twins came out on top of a 6-5 game that sent them to the playoffs. And it's clear again, with the two teams separated by a half-game at the top of the American League Central. Minnesota will send Scott Baker to the hill Monday, and he'll be matched up against Detroit's Max Scherzer.

This will also be Detroit's first trip to the brand new Target Field, diluting the rematch aspect a bit.

"I never worried about the Metrodome," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. "The Metrodome was a miserable place to play for everybody, but I never let it [get to me]. The narrow little place in there where all the coaches were stuffed in there -- the writers couldn't get in there. You couldn't talk to anybody. You're trying to get dressed and somebody's in your face. There were a lot of aggravating things, but I didn't mind playing in the Metrodome."

"It's obviously going to have a different feel. There's no question about that," added Detroit shortstop Adam Everett, a former Twins player in his own right. "And it's going to be exciting playing in the new park and getting to see the surroundings and whatnot. It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to exceptionally nice that it's not going to be a dome."

Baker, a key member of Minnesota's rotation over the past few seasons, has turned in two quality starts in his first five outings. The right-hander has been hit hard in each of his past two starts -- one of which came against Detroit -- and has allowed at least four earned runs three times. Baker has completed seven innings twice this year, and he's won both times.

Scherzer, who surfaced in Detroit as part of the Edwin Jackson trade to Arizona, faced Minnesota last week and was knocked out in the fourth inning. Prior to that, Scherzer had completed six innings in three of his previous four starts. The hard-throwing right-hander has 20 strikeouts and just seven walks this season. Scherzer allowed 10 hits and six runs to the Twins last week.

Tigers: Deal paying off
Rookie leadoff man Austin Jackson continued to roll on Sunday, when he collected another three hits to pace Detroit's attack. Jackson, who was acquired from the Yankees during the winter in the Curtis Granderson trade, has reached base safely in 20 consecutive games. Jackson is batting .395 (34-for-86) with six extra-base hits and six RBIs over that span.

Jackson has made quite an impact, and he leads all Major League rookies in batting average (.367), runs scored (21) and hits (40). The youngster also ranks among the AL leaders in average, hits and runs. Jackson already has 13 multihit games this season, and the Tigers will keep writing his name into the lineup as often as possible.

Twins: Ramos makes impact
The Twins recalled reserve catcher Wilson Ramos on Sunday, one night after experiencing a bit of a scare. Starting catcher Joe Mauer has been listed as day-to-day due to a bruised left heel, and when backup Drew Butera was shaken up on Saturday night, Minnesota was left without another alternative. At that point, manager Ron Gardenhire began to get creative.

Gardenhire decided that if he didn't have anyone else to catch, second baseman Orlando Hudson might be his best bet.

"I started looking down the bench figuring out who we could put in there," Gardenhire said of the four-time Gold Glove-winner. "That's what we decided. If nothing else, we figured he'd wear hitters down by talking to them all the time."

Ramos, who batted .179 for Triple-A Rochester, will stick around until Mauer returns to peak condition. The rookie netted four hits in his big league debut, and the Twins will likely test him as long as he sticks with the parent club.

Worth noting
The Twins have committed just four errors this season, the fewest in baseball. In fact, Minnesota's defense set an expansion-era record by going 17 games without committing an infield error. ... Minnesota continued an interesting trend by scoring twice in the first inning Sunday. The Twins have now scored 29 percent (38 of 130) of their runs in the first two innings. ... Minnesota placed Pat Neshek on the disabled list in order to make room for Ramos. ... The Tigers are now 11-2 when they score at least five runs, and they're 5-8 when they score four or fewer. ... Detroit is 8-4 against the AL Central this year.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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