The Detroit Tigers were expected to be highly competitive in the American League, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have been their equal in the National League to this point. The two teams will kick off interleague rivalry week with a two-game set in Detroit on Monday as the Tigers look for their sixth win in seven tries after taking three of four from the Minnesota Twins. Detroit features the majors’ highest-scoring offense and has received 30 quality starts from the rotation – the most in the AL.
The Pirates rank among the best in the majors in ERA (second) and batting average allowed (first). Pittsburgh is coming off a series win against the Milwaukee Brewers and has won 13 of 16 to move a season-high 12 games over .500 (31-19) – a mark slightly better than Detroit (28-20). While the offense finds itself in the bottom half of the majors in runs (T-18th) and batting average (24th), Andrew McCutchen is sparking the offense with a .352 average in May and seven multi-hit efforts in his last nine games.
TV: 1:08 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), Fox Sports Detroit
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates LH Francisco Liriano (3-0, 1.00 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (5-4, 3.66)
Liriano continued his amazing return from the broken right arm that forced him to miss the first month of the season, striking out nine and allowing only two hits over seven innings in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. The left-hander has yielded one run or less and struck out at least seven in all three of his outings since his Pirates’ debut on May 11. Liriano, who is 5-7 with a 5.93 ERA in 23 career appearances (16 starts) against Detroit, has won only one of his last eight starts against the Tigers.
After registering a 4-2 record and 1.55 ERA through his first seven outings, Verlander’s slide continued in Wednesday’s 11-7 victory over Cleveland. The 2011 AL MVP waited out a rain delay to strike out nine over five frames, but yielded five runs and 10 hits. Over his last three starts, the five-time All-Star is 1-2 with an 11.43 ERA and 2.38 WHIP over 12 2/3 innings. Verlander has enjoyed great success against the Pirates, however, winning all three starts – including a pair of complete-game victories in 2012.
1. The Pirates have not allowed more than four runs in 12 straight games – their longest such streak since a 15-game run in 2008.
2. Detroit RF Torii Hunter is one home run shy of 300 for his career.
3. With a win Monday, Pittsburgh will log its 17th victory in May for the first time since 1999.
PREDICTION: Tigers 3, Pirates 2
Stats and Records
|6/24/12||DET 3||PIT 2||.167||1||.460||.226||1||.617|