The Detroit Tigers have slowed down since their 12-game winning streak, losing eight of the last 14 as their cushion in the American League Central shrinks. The Tigers, who lead the majors in hits and batting average, look to get back on track when they begin a three-game series in New York against the Mets on Friday.
Reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-13 in Detroit's series loss to Minnesota, but the Tigers still lead second-place Cleveland by five games in the AL Central.
The Tigers have posted 28 runs in the last five contests and are hitting .281 as a team while the Mets sit at 27th in the majors with a .240 batting average. Marlon Byrd has perked up for New York, going 16-for-44 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last 10 games. The Mets -- 13 ½ games out of a National League wild-card spot -- are 10-4 in interleague play while Detroit is 9-5.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, WPIX (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Doug Fister (10-6, 3.63 ERA) vs. Mets RH Daisuke Matsuzaka (NR)
Fister has gone three straight games without a victory, yielding nine runs and 25 hits over 18 1/3 innings. He is 28-17 in Detroit after starting his career 12-30, and won four straight starts from July 12 through Aug. 2. Fister has never faced the Mets, but is 3-1 in six interleague starts this season. John Buck has had some success against the Tigers' righty, going 1-for-2 with an RBI against him.
Matsuzaka, released by the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, was signed by the Mets two days later to make his first NL start. The Japanese native was 5-8 with a 3.92 ERA and 95 strikeouts over 103 1/3 innings in Triple-A Columbus. Matsuzaka, who won only one of 11 starts last season with Boston, is 4-1 in six career starts against the Tigers with a 3.19 ERA.
1. The Mets scored 56 runs while winning four of six against Detroit in 2010 and 2011 – the last two times the teams met.
2. Detroit CF Austin Jackson has nine hits in 18 at-bats with a homer and four RBIs in the last four contests.
3. New York C Travis d’Arnaud, the centerpiece of the package acquired for R.A. Dickey in the offseason, is 1-for-11 in his first five major-league games.