Tigers-Blue Jays Preview
The Detroit Tigers admit they are in a funk at the plate.
It's hard to say how they'll fare against a pitcher they haven't seen in six years.
The scuffling Tigers try to avoid a fourth straight loss Tuesday night when they go up against the Toronto Blue Jays' Chien-Ming Wang, who tries to bounce back from a disappointing outing.
The Blue Jays (41-41) won their seventh straight home game by beating Detroit 8-3 in Monday's opener of a four-game set. The Tigers fell for the sixth time in seven contests to drop one-half game behind Cleveland in the AL Central.
Detroit (43-38) leads the majors with a .279 average and averages 4.9 runs, but is batting .242 and averaging 3.7 runs over its last seven games.
"We're in a little funk right now and we've just got to get ourselves out of it,'' Jim Leyland said. "You've got to roll with that punch and you've got to try and do something about it.''
They'll try to turn things around against Wang (1-1, 5.24 ERA), who surrendered a season-high seven runs over 1 2-3 innings Thursday in a 7-4 defeat at Boston. The right-hander was 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his previous two starts, and said afterward that his sinkerball was flat.
"He's pitched great for us," manager John Gibbons told the Blue Jays' official website. "That's baseball. That happens. That can happen to anybody. He'll bounce back."
Wang is 6-0 with a 2.76 ERA in seven starts against the Tigers, including one in the postseason, but all those outings came with the New York Yankees between 2005-07. The only Detroit hitter he has faced since after 2009 is Omar Infante (2 for 10 lifetime against him).
Miguel Cabrera went 0 for 4 on Monday as his 15-game hitting streak in which he batted .458 with seven homers and 13 RBIs ended. Infante was a bright spot, going 4 for 4.
"We're a little bit snake-bitten right now as well as not swinging as good as we can,'' Leyland said. "The combination of those things is normally not a good one. When we hit one hard right now they're catching it, and we're not hitting a whole bunch of them hard.''
Toronto played Monday without slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who was scratched from the lineup with hamstring soreness.
"It made sense to give him the day, we don't want that to turn into anything major," Gibbons said. "Hopefully it's not a long-term thing, we don't think it will be."
Adam Lind also sat out with a back injury that forced him out of Sunday's game at Boston.
Toronto is enjoying its longest run at home since winning eight straight July 21-Aug. 5, 2007.
Tigers starter Doug Fister (6-5, 3.50) owns a higher ERA in July at 4.17 than in any other month.
The right-hander, who gave up one run over seven innings in a 10-inning loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday, improved to 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA in five starts against the Blue Jays on April 11 by allowing one run over eight innings in an 11-1 rout.
Toronto is second in the majors with 107 homers, but Fister has not allowed any of its hitters to go deep.