'Rebooting' Tigers open series in Baltimore
Just a few days ago, it looked like the Baltimore Orioles would be best served going into sell mode with their impending free agents.
A hot streak has almost certainly dismissed any chance of that.
While the Detroit Tigers are looking toward next season following the trade of left-hander David Price, they'll try to prevent the Orioles from matching their longest win streak of the year Friday night in the opener of a four-game series at Camden Yards.
Last Friday's loss at Tampa Bay capped a 5-15 stretch for the Orioles, who were in danger of falling too far behind in the wild-card race. Baltimore (51-49) rebounded to win two straight against the Rays, however, and completed a three-game sweep of Atlanta with Wednesday's 2-0 victory.
With Minnesota struggling, the Orioles are now one game behind the final wild-card spot.
Chris Tillman became the latest Baltimore starter to impress, falling one out shy of the team's first complete game to lower the rotation's ERA to 1.24 during the five-game streak, one shy of the season high set June 7-13.
"Pitching like we've been pitching keeps you in every game," manager Buck Showalter said. "I'll take my chances with that."
Jonathan Schoop homered and J.J. Hardy also went deep to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.
Although the Tigers (49-52) ended a three-game skid with Wednesday's 2-1 victory at Tampa Bay, general manager Dave Dombrowski confirmed after the game that he will listen to offers for their free agents.
Price was gone a day later, going to Toronto for left-handers Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt. Yoenis Cespedes, Joakim Soria, Rajai Davis and Alex Avila could also be attractive pieces for contending clubs.
Losing superstar Miguel Cabrera (left calf strain) didn't originally hurt the Tigers after he went down July 3, as they won four of six and averaged 6.7 runs. Since then, however, they've gone 5-11 while scoring 3.8 per game with a .236 batting average.
Detroit has dropped to fourth place in the Central, its lowest spot after the All-Star break since the end of the 2008 season.
The Tigers get another shot at Miguel Gonzalez (9-6, 3.99 ERA) after he beat them July 19, yielding two runs over five innings in a 9-3 victory at Comerica Park.
The right-hander followed that outing by winning in more impressive fashion Saturday, taking a shutout into the eighth at Tampa Bay before ultimately allowing one run and five hits over 7 2-3 innings in a 5-1 win.
He's 1-2 with a 7.65 ERA in four starts against the Tigers.
Davis (4 for 12 with three homers) and Cespedes (5 for 11) have both posed problems for him.
Alfredo Simon (9-6, 4.46), who broke into the majors with the Orioles in 2008, faces his former team for the first time.
The right-hander went 1-3 with a 10.16 ERA during a six-start span before limiting Boston to one run and five hits over six-plus innings in a 5-1 victory Saturday. He suffered a slight groin injury on his second pitch in the seventh.
Travis Snider has the most experience of any Orioles hitter against Simon, going 5 for 15. Chris Davis is 2 for 2 with a home run.
Victor Martinez is hitting .392 with four homers during a 13-game hitting streak at Camden Yards, including two games in last season's AL division series.