Orioles-Tigers Preview

Buoyed by their dominant play at home, the Detroit Tigers have

been the best team in the American League for nearly two


A few more wins and they could be the best team in the AL

Central very shortly.

Detroit seeks a fourth straight victory overall and fourth in

five games this season against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday


One of baseball’s most disappointing teams for much of this

season, the Tigers (64-55) are looking more and more like the club

most believed they would be.

No AL team has been better since June 28 than Detroit, which has

won 28 of 44 during that span to pull within 1 1/2 games of

Central-leading Chicago. The Tigers also are near the top of the

wild-card standings in a race that involves the Orioles (64-55) and

several other teams.

After winning the final two games on their road trip, the Tigers

opened a nine-game homestand Friday with a come-from-behind 5-3 win

over Baltimore. Prince Fielder’s second two-run homer of the game

snapped an eighth-inning tie and gave Detroit its 17th win in 20

games at Comerica Park.

Miguel Cabrera went deep for the 31st time and is 10 for 20 with

two homers and eight RBIs in his last five games. The Tigers

slugger has a 13-game hitting streak against Baltimore, batting

.521 (25 for 48) with eight home runs and 14 RBIs in that


“We got the big blows from the big guys,” manager Jim Leyland

said. “There’s no defense for those.”

Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer off Justin Verlander in the

fifth, but Baltimore went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position

in its second consecutive loss. The Orioles are 3 for 33 (.091) in

such situations against the Tigers this season.

Keeping opposing offenses down has been a problem lately for

Detroit’s Rick Porcello (9-7, 4.68 ERA), who has a 5.40 ERA and a

.329 batting average against in his past seven starts. Texas became

the latest team to hit the right-hander hard, reaching him for six

runs and nine hits over six innings en route to an 8-3 win


Porcello has, however, pitched well in his last two outings at

home, winning both behind a 2.45 ERA.

He is 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA in two starts against the Orioles,

beating them as a 20-year-old rookie in 2009.

J.J. Hardy is 4 for 6 lifetime versus Porcello while Nick

Markakis is 5 for 11 with a homer in their matchups.

Baltimore will send struggling Zach Britton (1-1, 8.10) to the

mound. After managing only one quality outing in his first five

starts, the left-hander was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 7

hours after he allowed seven runs – four earned – and eight hits

over five innings against Seattle in a game the Orioles eventually

won in 14.

Britton didn’t fare any better in the minors, allowing six runs

over 3 2-3 innings Monday.

“I think sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself to

compete and you forget about executing pitches,” Britton told the

team’s official website. “That’s really what I need to do now.”

He was reached for five runs, six hits and four walks over five

innings against Detroit on Sept. 22 but was credited with the