DETROIT -- Scott Baker faced the Tigers twice last year with the Twins facing elimination, and the Twins won both of those games.
Few thought the Twins had a chance when Baker took the mound at Comerica Park on Oct. 1. The Twins had fallen three games behind the Tigers with four to play. Had the Tigers won that afternoon, they would have clinched the division title.
But Baker held Detroit to one run on five hits over five innings. He was very careful that day, and the Tigers pushed his pitch count to 106, when Manager Ron Gardenhire turned to the bullpen. The Twins won 8-3 in a game best remembered for Delmon Young's charging of the dugout -- the Twins' dugout -- because he was so mad at lefty Jose Mijares after getting hit with a retaliation pitch.
Baker also started Game 163 on Oct. 6. Though it was obviously overshadowed later, Baker deserved credit that night for not folding up the tent after Miguel Cabrera's two-run homer gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Baker finished six innings, and seven relievers did the rest as the Twins went on to win 6-5 in the 12th.
Baker is 5-4 for his career against the Tigers, and he'll face them again tonight, as the Twins get their first crack at Tigers righthander Max Scherzer.
I'll have an update on Justin Morneau's back injury later. For now, here are the starting lineups, with Michael Cuddyer at first base and Luke Hughes getting his first major league start, at third base.
Update: Morneau has mid-oblique stiffness in his back. Has received medication. Won't take BP tonight or anything and probably won't play Thursday, Manager Ron Gardenhire said. Morneau is day-to-day, but it sounds like he won't play until Friday at the earliest.
Nick Punto will be activated from the DL on Saturday, Gardenhire said. Punto received an injection for hip bursitis, or inflammation of the bursa sac.
Joe Mauer fouled a ball off his right big toe Tuesday night. The toe swelled up, but he had it drained and he's back in the lineup tonight. Gardy said he wasn't sure about whether Mauer would play Thursday. Day game after night game, and LH Dontrelle Willis on the mound. But Gardy said Morneau's absence won't be a factor in the Mauer decision.
1. Denard Span, CF (no word on any penalties from MLB yet)
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
6. Jason Kubel, RF
7. Delmon Young, LF
8. J.J. Hardy, SS
9. Luke Hughes, 3B
Starting pitcher: RH Scott Baker (2-2, 4.81 ERA)
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Brennan Boesch, LF
6. Brandon Inge, 3B
7. Ryan Raburn, 2B
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Ramon Santiago, SS
Starting pitcher: Max Scherzer (1-1, 2.63 ERA)
Comerica Park. First pitch: 6:05 p.m. (Central). TV: Fox Sports North, ESPN (where not blacked out). Twins Radio Network