After starting last season 1-8, the Detroit Tigers are 5-4 as they encounter their first west coast trip of the season. In this trip they will play the Seattle Mariners in a three-game set, then head down to southern California to face the Los Angeles Angels. They will then head back to the Midwest to play a division opponent, the Kansas City Royals.
It is the first meeting between these two teams this season, and it should be a great pitching series.
Game One: Friday, April 17 @ 10:10 PM(EST)
Justin Verlander will take the hill for the Tigers in game one of the series. The Rangers chased Verlander after five innings and 97 pitches in his last start, although he did show a lot of improvement in his pitches, striking out eight and walking four.
Verlander (0-1, 9.35) has pitched very good in his career against the Mariners. In seven starts, he is 6-1 with a 2.91 ERA, and has only given up one home run to Seattle hitters. At Safeco Field, he is 3-1 with a 3.76 ERA.
Verlander will need to continue to throw pitches for strikes, and it will be important for him to try and go seven innings. Consistency is what this Tigers team needs, and it all starts with the starting pitching.
Franklin Gutierrez has hit the best off of Verlander, with a .294 batting average and a home run and three RBI. Ichiro Suzuki has also hit well off of JV—he hits well off of everybody—as he is 8-22 with a RBI.
Opposing Verlander will be Felix Hernandez. "King Felix" struck out eight in his last start against the A's, but three of his seven hits given up were for extra bases.
He also said that his injured ankle hurt at times on Saturday and that it threw him off early. Look for the Tigers to take whatever advantage they can get off him, because he is stellar against Detroit.
In his career against the Tigers, Hernandez is 3-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 30.1 innings pitched. In those 30.1 innings he has recorded 30 strikeouts, something Maggio Ordonez knows, six strikeouts versus Felix.
An interesting stat I found was that in 1-0 counts, Hernandez (1-0, 4.15) has a .413 batting average against and has given up 11 home runs. The Tigers can use this to their advantage as they have been a patient team so far this season.
Curtis Granderson is the only Detroit Tiger with a home run off of Hernandez.
Game Two: Saturday, April 18 @ 9:10 PM(EST)
Consistency is what the Tigers need, and Edwin Jackson has delivered that early on.
Jackson (0-0, 3.38) has thrown 13 innings in his two starts this year, a sign that means the Tigers may have finally found their work-horse.
Jackson kept the Rangers close enough to where the Tigers could make a comeback and win in his last start, and will look to continue his success against Seattle on Saturday.
The 25-year-old is 2-0 versus the Mariners with a 0.60 ERA. Jose Lopez is the only Mariner to hit a home run off the German, but the way the Mariners have been hitting recently means that that might change.
Lefty Erik Bedard would like the Seattle offense to keep hitting. Although he is coming off of his best start as a Mariner versus the A's, Bedard is 1-1 with a 6.32 ERA against Detroit. In 15.2 innings pitched, he has given up 11 earned runs to Detroit.
Bedard (1-0, 2.03) will look to shut down the Detroit offense like he did against Oakland—as he retired 11 of 12 batters in one stretch and then 13 straight in another.
On an 0-1 count, Bedard has given up 15 home runs and three triples, something the Tigers will have to look out for.
Placido Polanco has hit well against Bedard, posting a .300 batting average to go along with one home run and two RBI.
Game Three: Sunday, April 19 @ 4:10 PM(EST)
Tigers rookie right-hander Rick Porcello will make his second career start on Sunday.
Porcello (0-1, 7.20) was supposed to start against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, but that game was postponed due to rain in Detroit.
Being a rookie, Porcello has never faced the Mariners before so he will be showing them all of his pitches. He will try and keep the ball down in the zone and will look to get a lot of ground ball outs.
He has had a lot of time to rest between starts, so I expect Porcello to pitch a great game.
On the rubber for Seattle, will be Carlos Silva.
Silva (0-1, 6.00) pitched very well in his last start against the Angels, as he had good command of the strike zone and kept the ball down.
He hasn't had very much success against Detroit. He has a 5-6 record with a 5.98 ERA in 14 starts against the Tigers. His 4.2 SO/9 rate is low, although he isn't a predominately strikeout pitcher.
The Tigers have hit .336 as a team against Silva, and Carlos Guillen has had a lot of success against him. He is 17-for-35 with three home runs and 14 RBI in his career against the Mariners' right-hander.
I think this will be a good series to watch, as the pitching matchups should create some interesting battles that will be fun to watch. Detroit will take two of three from the Mariners and will extend their lead in the American League Central.
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