With one of the AL’s ERA leaders going to the mound, the Tigers will try to earn their first win in Houston in six tries, avoid a sweep of the three-game road series and deny the Astros a season high-tying fourth straight win Sunday.
Since 2006, Detroit is 51-20 against the National League, trailing only Minnesota (52-19). With a 9-8 record against NL opponents this season, the Tigers (41-33) will fall well short of their 14-win average in the three previous seasons.
Their performances in this series haven’t helped.
After coming into this weekend on a seven-game winning streak, Detroit (41-33) has been outscored 13-5 in the first two games following Saturday’s 8-1 defeat. Alfredo Figaro(notes) gave up seven runs in the first three innings, and Ramon Santiago(notes) accounted for the offense with a homer.
“Sometimes you are going to have a bad game,” Figaro said. “These things are going to happen.”
The Tigers will try to bounce back and give right-hander Edwin Jackson(notes) (6-4, 2.40 ERA) some rare support. Despite having the AL’s second-best ERA and 11 quality starts, Jackson hasn’t benefited as much because Detroit has scored an average of 3.55 runs during his outings, including 1.83 in his last six starts.
The Tigers will try to give Jackson his first win since June 6 and third in four starts versus Houston. He allowed two runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 win last season for Tampa Bay but was not a part of the decision.
The Astros (35-37), meanwhile, will try for their second sweep against the Tigers in as many home meetings and first since July 15-17, 1999, in their final season in the Astrodome.
“We’ve been playing pretty good ball lately,” outfielder Michael Bourn(notes) told the Astros’ official Web site. “Our focus has been pretty good, and we’ll try to come out (Sunday) and complete the series.”
Houston can move within one game of .500 for the first time since being 1-2 on April 8, and its improved pitching has keyed that resurgence. The Astros are 17-10 with a 3.46 team ERA since ending a seven-game losing streak May 29.
Russ Ortiz(notes) (3-3, 3.47), who is winless since June 2 and has not won as a starter since April 26, will try to lead the Astros to their first sweep since taking three games from San Diego from May 8-10.
Ortiz is 2-2 with a 4.08 ERA in six starts this year, but since returning to the rotation June 11 after Felipe Paulino(notes) strained his groin, he is 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA. He suffered the loss in Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat against visiting Kansas City despite yielding two runs over seven innings.
Ortiz hasn’t started against the Tigers since 2004 but pitched 1 1-3 innings of relief versus Detroit in 2006.
Paulino earned the win in his return Saturday as six teammates each had an RBI.
Even with a victory, the Astros—6-8 versus the AL this season—are assured of their fourth losing record in interleague play the last five years.
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