The AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers have enjoyed interleague play over the last three years—especially when playing host.
They’ll attempt to continue that success and win seven straight overall for the first time in almost two years Friday night when they open a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.
The Tigers (23-16) had a 13-5 interleague record in 2008 to improve to 42-12 over the last three years, including 22-5 at Comerica Park. That includes a three-game home sweep of the Rockies (16-24) from June 27-29 with two games decided by one run.
“They play a completely different style of game,” center fielder Curtis Granderson(notes) told the Tigers’ official Web site. “We’ve got to be ready to jump after these guys. We played them well last year. They’re going to sure remember that, come back looking for revenge this time around.”
Detroit, though, enters this series on a roll after completing a three-game sweep of Texas with Wednesday’s 4-3 victory to open a three-game lead over second-place Kansas City. The Tigers haven’t won seven in a row since June 17-24, 2007, and appear to be gaining confidence.
“We’ve felt the same all year, I think,” third baseman Brandon Inge(notes) said. “We’ve had some bad games, pitched well some games, didn’t hit well some games. I think now, we’re talking about a feeling where we’re putting it all together. This is where I think we can be on a consistent basis.”
The Tigers are hitting .322 with 10 homers and outscoring opponents 47-15 during their current winning streak. To try and keep it going, they’ll turn to 20-year-old Rick Porcello(notes) (4-3, 3.86), who is looking to win a fourth consecutive start.
The rookie right-hander has won his last three starts with a 1.00 ERA, a vast improvement from his previous four starts when he went 1-3 with a 6.23 ERA.
Porcello yielded one run and three hits with five strikeouts in six innings Saturday in a 9-1 win over Oakland.
“I’m just throwing what (catcher) Gerald (Laird) calls and trying to hit my spots,” Porcello said. “I think in some of my previous starts, I was rushing things and trying to blow the ball past guys. Now, I’m just trying to keep it down and get groundballs.”
The Rockies went 7-8 against the AL last year, including 2-7 on the road. They’re carrying over a six-game road losing streak in interleague play.
The right-hander was impressive again Sunday, allowing one run and five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. But the bullpen wasted the three-run lead by surrendering 10 runs in the seventh in an 11-4 at Pittsburgh.
“It is hard, not for me not getting the win - it was hard for the team,” Jimenez said.
He’s 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA in two career interleague starts. One of those defeats came at Detroit on June 27, when he gave up four runs and nine hits in four innings of a 7-1 loss.