While one champion will be determined in Friday night’s matchup between Pittsburgh and Detroit, it won’t be at PNC Park.
The same night of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, the Tigers and Pirates open a three-game interleague series.
Although the highly anticipated meeting between the Red Wings and Penguins at Joe Louis Arena will garner most of the attention in Pittsburgh and Detroit, the Tigers (33-27) will try to pad their AL Central lead against baseball’s worst team in interleague play.
Detroit arrives in Pittsburgh (28-32) following Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Curtis Granderson(notes) hit a tying, two-run homer off White Sox closer Bobby Jenks(notes) with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, but Joel Zumaya(notes) surrendered a game-winning RBI single to Scott Podsednik(notes) in the bottom half.
Granderson, who leads the Tigers with 14 home runs, finished with three hits after going just 3 for 22 in his previous six games.
The Tigers, who lead second-place Minnesota by four games, lost for just the second time in seven games, and look to get back on track in Pittsburgh.
Detroit is 10-8 all-time versus the Pirates and the Tigers took two of three at PNC Park in 2006.
Pittsburgh has won six of 10 this month, but has had little success in interleague play since its inception in 1997. The Pirates dropped two of three to the White Sox from May 22-24 and are a major league-worst 64-105 against AL foes in the regular season.
“The tale of our season has always been interleague play,” shortstop Jack Wilson(notes) told the Pirates’ official Web site. “That has always been our question mark. If we can get through interleague play and play our game and come out of it in good shape, there’s a lot of confidence going into the second half of the season.”
LaRoche has a team-best 29 RBIs for Pittsburgh, which looks to win four straight home games for the first time since June 11-21, 2008.
Since defeating Atlanta on April 18, Snell has gone 0-4 with a 6.00 ERA in his last nine starts with the Pirates winning just twice in that span. At Houston on Sunday, the right-hander allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings of a 6-4 loss, but didn’t get a decision.
Snell is 0-2 with a 10.29 ERA in his last three interleague starts. In his only appearance against the Tigers on July 2, 2006, Snell gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings of a 9-8 loss.
After posting a 1.50 ERA in winning all five May starts, Porcello has yielded seven runs in 9 1-3 innings while going 0-1 in his two outings this month. On Sunday, the 20-year-old right-hander gave up four runs and five hits in five innings of a 9-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, but didn’t factor in the decision.
In his only interleague start, Porcello gave up one run and six hits in six innings of a 4-3 win over Colorado on May 22.