The Tigers took yesterday off, so we here at MCB felt compelled to join them. One could argue the Tigers haven’t shown up for work in quite some time. The Tigers, who entered the all-star break just a half game behind the Chicago White Sox, now stand a full seven games back. If there is to be any kind of relevance for this team, they must start winning games again, and they must do so starting tonight.
The White Sox are in town today for a day/night doubleheader to be followed but single games on Wednesday and Thursday. In this four game set, anything short of a series sweep and Detroit will likely have too large a hill to climb to get back into things. Even if the Tigers take three of four, they would still end the series at five game behind Chicago.
All this leaves no mention of the red-hot Minnesota Twins. While the Tigers and White Sox are battling at the CoPa, Minnesota sits one game behind Chicago for the division lead. The Twins are in Tampa to take on the Rays, a daunting task for certain.
Even after losing four of seven games on their last home stand, Detroit enters play tonight with the best home record in the American League. That dominance will have to continue in order for Detroit to salvage a once-promising year. (We’ll preview the doubleheader after the jump)
Rick Porcello gets the ball in today’s afternoon affair, opposite Mark Buehrle. In three starts since being recalled from AAA Toledo, Porcello has an 0-2 record, but has an ERA of 3.38 and allowed just 16 hits and six walks in 21.1 innings. He’s pitched easily well enough to have won all three outings, instead the Tigers injury-riddled offense has provided little support and the Tigers are 0-3 in those three games.
While Porcello (4-9, 5.50) was at his best down the stretch for the Tigers last season, he has been at his worst when facing the White Sox. Porcello has made three career starts versus Chicago and he’s lost all three. No hard luck there either, as the Sox have tuned him up for 21 hits and 17 runs in 15.2 innings. Obviously, he must show significant improvement today for the Tigers to have a chance.
The biggest reason for that will be Buehrle. Since 2001, Buehrle has won at least 10 games every single year, posting a losing record just once in his career. He’s been one of the very best left handers in all of baseball throughout his time in the league and some of his best success has come at the expense of the Tigers. Buehrle has made 27 career starts versus Detroit, posting a 14-8 record and an ERA under three. If there is a silver lining, it’s that 15 of those starts have come in Detroit, and Buehrle has a 7-5 record as a visitor with a slightly higher ERA, still a very good 3.13.
The nightcap will feature Jeremy Bonderman (5-6, 5.05) taking the hill for the Tigers in his first start since July 25. Bonderman was skipped over in his last turn in no small part due to his recent struggles. In his last six starts, going back to June 23, Bonderman has an ERA of 7.29. Amazingly, the Tigers have won three of those six games, and Bonderman has gone 2-2 in those games.
He has not faced the White Sox this year, and considering the lost seasons of 2008 and 2009, I’m not sure how relevant his career 5-10 record is versus Chicago. He has been better at home in 2010 than on the road, posting a 3-3 mark and 4.29 ERA at Comerica Park.
Carlos Torres will be recalled from AAA Charlotte to pitch the nightcap for Chicago. It will be his first appearance of the season in the big leagues. Torres made five starts for the White Sox last year, appearing in eight games overall. He struggles last season, registering a 6.04 ERA in 28.1 innings, including a 6.55 ERA in 23 innings as a starter. Torres allowed two hits but no runs in one inning of relief versus Detroit last season.
The evening game will also be the Armando Galarraga “Almost Perfect” tribute game. There will be 28 signed baseballs given away during the game, representing the number of outs Galarraga “recorded” en route to his place in history. Fans will be treated to a poster of Galarraga as well and yours truly will be in attendance, what better reason to come out to the ball park. If you plan to be there, send me a note via twitter and perhaps we can meet up somewhere. I’ll be in section 106A with my wife and our oldest daughter.
The Tigers are in dire need of a sweep today and they’ll need some help from the Rays as well. If they can stay within shouting distance until next week, reinforcements should be on the way in the form of Carlos Guillen, and perhaps even Brandon Inge. It’s a long shot to be sure, but there’s enough season left to make a run at this thing yet. Here’s hoping the Tigers take a giant leap forward starting today.
For an opposing view of this series, check out Rob Sesso’s take on SouthSide Showdown.