Tigers play for third straight win Friday night against Astros


DETROIT – The series opener between the Tigers and first-place Astros lived up to the hype Thursday, as it took a walkoff home run in the 11th inning to send Detroit home with a win.

David Price struck out 12 batters in 6.2 innings before letting the Astros cut deeply into a 5-0 lead with three runs. Houston completed its comeback in the top of the 9th, when Preston Tucker hit a pinch-hit solo homer, the first of his career, to tie the game.

But James McCann's fly ball to left just carried the fence in the bottom of the 11th to clinch the game for Detroit.

On Friday, Alfredo Simon will look to exploit the Astros' batters as Price did through six innings.

Houston batters lead MLB with 62 home runs but strike out at an alarming rate. Their 385 strikeouts lead the American League by more than 40 K's over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Friday will be a test for Simon, who doesn't strike out many batters.

First Pitch: 7:08 p.m. on FSD

Simon has never started against the Astros and his only experience against them came in four relief appearances from 2012-2013. The only Houston hitter with more than four at-bats against Simon is Luis Valbuena, who is 3-13 with a home run against him.

Simon will run into trouble against the Astros if he continues a recent trend of surrendering home runs. In his last six starts, opponents have hit four home runs against Simon and struck out only 28 times in 37 innings. The current Astros' roster has one homer and six strikeouts in 37 at-bats against Simon.

Houston will counter with Collin McHugh, who has never pitched against the Tigers. McHugh broke out in 2014, his first year as a full-time starting pitcher. He posted a 2.73 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and struck out 157 batters in 25 starts.

McHugh was off to another fine start this April, winning three of four starts and allowing just eight runs in 24.2 innings. But May has been more of a struggle. McHugh allowed seven runs to the Giants on May 12, bumping his ERA over 4.00 for the first time all season.

He bounced back in his last start, beating the Blue Jays with seven solid innings.

The Tigers will look to stay hot at the plate as they get their first look at the young righty. Detroit hasn't scored five or more runs in three straight games since April 12, when they did so in five straight games.

The Tigers enter Friday trailing the Kansas City Royals by two games in the AL Central. They'll play two afternoon games against Houston this weekend to cap off the four-game series.