The Toronto Blue Jays and the Detroit Tigers were able to get well acquainted this spring, as the teams split four exhibition match-ups during camp. Starting Tuesday, the two sides will become reacquainted for a three-game series in Detroit, with both teams still under the weight of heavy expectations for the 2013 season.
Game 1: Brandon Morrow (0-0, 1.50 ERA) v/s Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Game 2: Mark Buehrle (0-0, 10.13 ERA) v/s Rick Porcello (0-1, 5.06 ERA)
Game 3: Josh Johnson (0-0, 4.50 ERA) v/s Doug Fister (1-0, 5.40 ERA)
Morrow looked solid in game one, despite some early command issues. In six innings, the right-handed, de facto ace of the 2012 Blue Jays, looked equally the part in 2012, striking out 8 and scattering six hits while allowing a single earned run. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays offense did not come alive until later in the game and Toronto dropped the contest 2-3 in extra innings.
Morrow did not face the Tigers in 2012, but owns a 1-1 career record against Detroit, with a 3.72 ERA in 11 appearances (2 starts).
He’ll be opposed by Anibal Sanchez, who like Morrow took a no decision in his first start of the season. The Blue Jays have had good success against Sanchez in the past, with the right-hander holding a 2-3 record and a 6.75 ERA in three starts against Toronto.
Game 2 will featured two pitchers who would like to put their first starts behind them. Mark Buehrle, who will take the hill for the Blue Jays, was knocked around by the Cleveland Indians in his first start, surrendering 6 runs over 5.1 innings on Thursday. For his career, Buehrle has seen a lot of the Tigers, registering a 3.36 ERA and an 18-10 career record against the Tigers.
Rick Porcello will go for the Tigers. The 24-year-old was the subject of many trade rumors this spring, but that appears to have cooled off a bit. Control issues and a pair of home runs doomed his first start, when he surrendered 3 runs to the Twins over 5 innings on April 4th. Porcello owns a 2-3 mark and a 4.50 ERA in 5 career starts against the Blue Jays.
Game Three will be another chance at redemption for the Blue Jays, as Josh Johnson will take the hill for Toronto. The 6ft 7in right-hander surrendered 4 runs (3 earned) to Boston on Friday, while striking out 6 in 6 innings of work. He has never faced the Detroit Tigers during his 9-year career.
Doug Fister will draw the final game nod for the Tigers. A winner in his first start, Fister nonetheless surrendered 3 earned runs over five innings of work while striking out just two Yankees on the day. Of the three Detroit starters, Fister has had the most success against Toronto, holding the Blue Jays to 12 earned runs over 28.2 innings pitched (3.77 ERA) but owns just a 1-2 record for his troubles.
Toronto’s line-up is for today’s series opener, while Detroit’s represents the team’s projected Opening Day line-up.
1. CF: Austin Jackson
2. RF: Torii Hunter
3. 3B: Miguel Cabrera
4. 1B: Prince Fielder
5. DH: Victor Martinez
6. LF: Andy Dirks
7. SS: Jhonny Peralta
8. C: Alex Avila
9. 2B: Omar Infante
Toronto Blue Jays:
1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Melky Cabrera
3. DH: Jose Bautista
4. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
5. C: J.P. Arencibia
6. CF: Colby Rasmus
7. RF: Rajai Davis
8. 3B: Maicer Izturis
9. 2B: Emilio Bonifacio
Bautista will be rejoining the team for the first time after having missed the entire Red Sox series due to a twisted ankle. The Blue Jays will ease him into the line-up at the DH today, meaning Adam Lind will get a day off and Rajai Davis will play right field.
For the vaunted offenses of both teams, the Blue Jays and Tigers rank 21st and 19th respectively in runs scored in 2013. Both teams have struggled with Runners In Scoring Position, as Detroit has left an average of 4 per game, while the Blue Jays have left 2.83. Toronto ranks 8th in baseball in the category, but the Red Sox exposed that this weekend, jumping that number up to 3.33 during the three game set with Boston.
One notable difference between the two teams has been defense. The Blue Jays have been atrocious defensively in 2013, ranking 3rd in baseball with 6 errors on the season. Meanwhile, the Tigers are one of three teams to have committed none. Toronto also leads all of Major League Baseball with 4 passed balls (the R.A. Dickey Effect), while Detroit has none.
Both teams are looking for wins in this series, with Detroit at 3-3 on the season and Toronto at 2-4. It’s early for both teams, but it’s never too early to right the ship.
Here is to hoping it is the Blue Jays ship getting righted this week.