(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers try to beat the Minnesota Twins for the seventh straight time this afternoon when the American League Central rivals open a three-game series at Comerica Park.
The Tigers split their 18-game matchup with the Twins last season, but won the final four games and have beaten them both times they have faced them this season. Minnesota was also just 2-7 in Detroit a year ago.
Detroit enters today's tilt after splitting a day/night doubleheader with the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. The Tigers dropped a 4-3 decision in game one, before Justin Verlander tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings to lead them to a 3-0 win in the nightcap.
The doubledip was made necessary due to Saturday's rainout, Detroit's fourth in its last nine scheduled games.
Verlander (5-3) allowed four hits and two walks while fanning three, posting his second scoreless outing in May. Don Kelly and Brennan Boesch each knocked in a run for the Tigers, who avoided a four-game sweep with the victory.
Today, Detroit will hand the ball to right-handed veteran Brad Penny, who had a three-start winning streak stopped his last time out, but hasn't officially pitched since May 20 because of all the recent rainouts. He did throw three scoreless innings on Wednesday before his start against Tampa Bay was washed away by rain.
Penny was saddled with the loss against Pittsburgh in his last trip to the hill, as he allowed five runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He is now 4-4 on the year with a 4.45 ERA.
Penny is 2-0 in three starts against the Twins and has pitched to a 5.21 ERA in those outings.
Minnesota, meanwhile, was denied a series win on Sunday, as the Twins dropped a 6-5 decision to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the rubber match of a three-game set at Target Field.
Denard Span went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored while Justin Morneau added three hits and two RBI for the Twins, who have lost seven of their last nine. Carl Pavano (2-5) remained a win shy of 100 as he took the loss for giving up five runs -- four earned -- on 10 hits over eight innings.
"It's frustrating out there but it is what it is," said Span. "We're in this situation right now and we have to try and dig ourselves out. If we keep playing hard and doing what we did today and keep fighting we'll get back in it."
The Twins are now 5-16 in their last 21 games.
Getting the call for the Twins today will be righty Nick Blackburn, who has won his last three decisions. Blackburn won his second straight start with a complete game effort on Tuesday against Seattle, as he allowed two runs and seven hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter.
Blackburn is now unbeaten over his last five starts and has evened his record at 4-4, while surrendering two earned runs or less in each of those outings to lower his earned run average to 3.20.
"We've been working the last couple weeks trying to get my mechanics the way they are, and lately they've been working pretty well," said Blackburn, who tossed a career-high 127 pitches. "I think tonight I was going to go in with the same exact plan, regardless of if we had everyone in the bullpen or if we had nobody in the bullpen."
Blackburn has faced the Tigers 11 times (nine starts) and is 4-5 against them with a 4.79 ERA.