The Detroit Tigers could be alone atop the AL Central by the end of the weekend. In order to make that possible, they’ll likely need to find a way to get the best of Seattle ace Felix Hernandez(notes).
Looking to bounce back from a rough outing, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner tries to continue his recent success against the surging Tigers on Sunday at Comerica Park.
After splitting the first two of this four-game set, Detroit (35-29) broke out for an 8-1 win over Seattle on Saturday. The Tigers, as many as eight games out of first in the Central in early May, have won 10 of 13 to move within one percentage of point of struggling first-place Cleveland.
“It feels good, but we’ve got 100 games left,” said Max Scherzer(notes), who recorded his eighth win Saturday. “A lot of things can still happen, but you have to love the talent on this team. We’re in a real good position, and we are definitely coming on strong.”
Austin Jackson(notes), Brennan Boesch(notes) and Victor Martinez(notes) each had three hits as Detroit pounded out 14 and scored one fewer run Saturday than it totaled while losing two of its previous three contests.
Jackson is batting .389 with six RBIs his last eight games for the Tigers, who have averaged 5.5 runs the last 14. Detroit’s leadoff hitter is just 1 for 6 versus Hernandez (6-5, 3.29 ERA), while Martinez is 3 for 15 with a homer against the right-hander.
After losing his first two appearances versus Detroit in 2005 and 2006, Hernandez is 7-0 with a 3.00 ERA his last eight starts against the Tigers. He allowed two earned runs and four hits in six innings of a 7-3 win April 26 to improve to 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA in five career starts at Comerica Park.
Hernandez, however, was 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA his three previous starts overall before the White Sox tagged him for five runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field.
“Felix struggled and didn’t have his secondary stuff but as he does, he battled and righted himself and got us deeper into the ballgame,” manager Eric Wedge told the Mariners’ official website.
Scheduled Tigers starter Rick Porcello(notes) (6-3, 3.58) has faced little adversity while going 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA in four starts versus the Mariners. The right-hander has allowed a run and four hits in each of his last two outings versus Seattle, including April 20 when he lasted 6 2-3 innings in a 3-2 win at Safeco Field.
Porcello has surrendered three runs in 12 2-3 innings to win his last two starts overall, including one in six innings of an 8-1 win at Texas on Tuesday.
That likely does not bode well for the Mariners (33-32), who continue to struggle at the plate while scoring 14 runs on a 2-4 trip that concludes Sunday.