Detroit Tigers: 42-32, 1st Place (3.5 ahead of Cleveland).
Yes, the Tigers are lucky to play in the Central. But if they were playing in the East, they would be in 2nd, only 2 games out of first, behind Boston, from whom they just took 3-of-4. Of course, that was at home. But if the Tigers could figure out how to step up their road game, they could be as good as anybody.
The Tigers finish off their home stand by welcoming the redundantly-named Los Angeles Angels for 3 games before departing for a rough road-trip that begins in Tampa Bay, rolls into the suddenly unbeatable Blue Jay juggernaut for 4 games, then ends in Cleveland. The Angels have owned Detroit lately–they have a 6-game winning streak in which they have outscored the Tigers 34-9. None of those games were at Comerica, however, and the Tigers are a different beast there.
Porcello will try to keep the ball down tonight: last time he faced the Angels he was bombed for 9 runs in less than an inning, including a Trout grand slam on a hanging curve ball.
C.J. Wilson will do his best to avoid joining his teammate Josh Hamilton in succumbing to the well-known Head & Shoulders Curse.
When Porcello is at his best he gets a lot of ground balls. Actually, the Tigers as a team do the same (starters and relievers combined):
So the balls put in play are predominantly ground balls, and they do the best at any team of avoiding the dreaded line drive, which results in a .698 batting average (league average; for Detroit it is a fairly average .704).
You’ll notice that even though the Tigers have fewer Line Drives and Fly Balls than Ground Balls, that they are low in every category. This is because so many plate appearances end in strike outs (701, best in the league by 40). Combine that with being 3rd best in allowing the fewest walks (197: the Twins are best at 193), and what you get is just not that many balls put in play of any kind, and not that many total plate appearances. In fact Tiger pitchers have only pitched to 2795 total batters, well below the league average of 2871.
The bad news is that those ground balls have been getting through. The Tigers have a .268 batting average on ground balls hit against them, highest in the AL (the league average is .241; Baltimore is best at .214). Not to mention the ground balls rarely result in double plays (Tigers have turned a league-low 46). Something to keep in mind for Rick Porcello on the mound.
In other news, the Tigers had a scout at the Marlins/Giants series. They are rumored to be interested in Miami relievers Steve Cishek and Ryan Webb.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Austin Jackson. We’ll ignore the career 2-for-13 he has against Wilson. AJax is .457 (16-for 35) since his return from the DL, which may be energizing the offense as much as the return home. Before his trip to the DL he was in a horrible slump, but also playing through a bad hamstring. One should not forget how well he was hitting to start the season; that swing may be back. Enjoy.
(Oh. And how good does the Edwin Jackson/Curtis Granderson for Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, and Phil Coke (and Schlereth, oh well) trade seem now?).