Detroit had one of the best records in interleague play last season. With Dan Haren having jumped to the National League, however, the struggling Tigers might have a tough time getting off to a strong start this year.
Haren looks to extend a personal four-game winning streak in interleague competition as he takes the mound for the major league-leading Arizona Diamondbacks against the Tigers on Friday night.
Detroit (16-25) tied the Los Angeles Angels for the best interleague record in the major leagues last season at 14-4. The Tigers hit .314 in those games and scored a major league-best 128 runs.
Detroit, though, has lost 10 of its last 12 games, scoring two runs or less seven times in that span.
“We’re not stringing good at-bats together,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I’m very surprised and disappointed in the results so far, but I’m not disappointed in the effort.”
Now, Detroit is set to face one of baseball’s top pitchers.
Haren (4-2, 3.04 ERA) was outstanding for Oakland in interleague games last season, going 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA. The only other pitcher who had four wins in interleague play in 2007 was the Tigers’ Justin Verlander.
Haren, who knows the AL well from his three seasons with the A’s, will try to continue that success in the NL after being traded to Arizona (26-15) in the offseason. He’s adjusted well to the new league, particularly at home, where the right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in five starts.
Haren, however, went 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA in three starts versus the Tigers last season, and is 1-4 with a 5.12 ERA in six career starts against them.
Haren was a hard-luck loser in his last outing Friday. He allowed two runs and five hits while striking out five in seven innings, but Arizona fell 3-1 to the Chicago Cubs.
Detroit will counter with Jeremy Bonderman (2-4, 4.80), who’s posted an 8.10 ERA in losing his last two starts. He hasn’t had much success against the Diamondbacks either, going 0-2 with an 8.14 ERA in four career starts.
The right-hander allowed five runs and six hits in four innings as Detroit lost 5-2 to the New York Yankees on Saturday. He’s walked 29 batters in 45 innings this season.
Bonderman has won three straight starts in interleague competition despite posting a 6.88 ERA in that span. He’ll be facing a Diamondbacks lineup that has scored eight runs in two of its last three games.
Backed by Stephen Drew’s career-high four hits, Arizona defeated Colorado 8-5 on Thursday night. The shortstop has gone 18-for-47 (.383) with two home runs, four triples, two doubles and 10 RBIs in his last 11 games to raise his average from .250 to .295.
“He’s swinging it better than anybody we have right now,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s been quite the force for us.”
Drew, though, is batting .235 (12-for-51) in 13 interleague games.
Detroit, meanwhile, boasts one of the top hitters in the history of interleague play. Magglio Ordonez’s .452 average in interleague games last season was second in the majors, and he’s third all-time with a .345 average.
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