Astros-Tigers Preview


No team in the AL is swinging the bats better than the Detroit Tigers these days.

Riding its red-hot offense, Detroit will look to run its winning streak to eight on Wednesday night when they continue this four-game series against the visiting Houston Astros.

Since their streak began on April 29, the Tigers (19-9) are scoring 6.86 runs per game, the most in the AL. Miguel Cabrera led the way in Tuesday's 11-4 win, going 4 for 5 with a homer, a double and four RBIs.

The AL MVP was hitting .206 on April 22, but he's batting .396 (21 for 53) with a 1.041 OPS in his last 12 games.

''Every player goes through a little bit of a lull once in a while,'' manager Brad Ausmus said. ''It's just that I think Miggy has set such a high standard that people don't expect it.''

To keep their longest winning streak since a 12-game run July 26-Aug. 8 going, the Tigers will turn to Rick Porcello. In five starts this season, Porcello (4-1, 3.66 ERA) has struck out 22 and walked four, a 5.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio that's among the best in the AL.

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in two home starts, and his third road outing proved to be much better than his first two. Porcello held Kansas City to two runs and four hits over seven innings without a walk Friday in an 8-2 win.

''Throwing first-pitch strikes I think was the biggest key,'' Porcello said. ''Being ahead 0-1 instead of 1-0 is huge. You can go a lot of different ways when you do that.''

Porcello gave up three runs in seven innings in his lone career start against the Astros, a 7-3 road win on May 2, 2013.

He will be opposed by Brad Peacock, who is looking to improve his command in his fourth start after beginning the season in the bullpen. Peacock (0-2, 5.26) has a 3.94 ERA in the rotation after allowing eight runs in 9 2-3 innings out of the bullpen, but he's walked 12 in his three starts.

The right-hander's 7.01 walks per nine innings are by far the most of any pitcher who has gone at least 25 innings.

While the Tigers have been rolling off wins, Houston (10-23) has lost four in a row and six of its last seven. The Astros' bullpen has allowed 15 runs and 20 hits in 11 innings during this losing streak, bumping their major league-worst ERA to 6.24.

''It's a little tough, you know,'' said reliever Josh Fields, who allowed six hits and five runs while recording only two outs in Tuesday's loss. ''We're struggling. But it'll be all right.''

They'll probably be better off if they can get out of Detroit as soon as possible. The Tigers have outscored the Astros 68-23 in winning eight of the nine meetings the past two seasons.

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