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Jimenez tries to slow down Tigers Tuesday
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 5/13/2014  at  4:06:00 AM
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DETROIT TIGERS (22-12)

at BALTIMORE ORIOLES (20-16)

First pitch: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Detroit -110, Baltimore +100, Total: 8.5

Two of the leaders in their respective divisions, the Tigers and Orioles, meet up for game two of their three-game series on Tuesday night.

Although Detroit has the best record in the majors, the team had dropped three of four games before getting back into the win column Monday night when it defeated Baltimore 4-1 in the series opener. Rick Porcello won for the fifth consecutive time, as he went six innings, allowing just five hits and one run while striking out two with no walks. DH Victor Martinez (.331 BA) has been seeing the ball great lately, going eight for his past 20 with two homers, two doubles and 4 RBI. The O's have won 8-of-12 games coming into this one, putting the club at the top of the AL East by 1.5 games. But Baltimore has just three runs and 14 hits during a two-game losing skid. Backup C Steve Clevenger went 3-for-4 in Monday's defeat, and is 7-for-15 in his past three games as he replaces C Matt Wieters who is on the DL with an elbow injury. Getting the start for the Tigers in this one will be 24-year old LHP Drew Smyly (2-2, 2.96 ERA) who will go head-to-head with RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (2-4, 4.73 ERA), who is attempting to continue his hot month of May. Detroit has done well both at home and on the road, and with Monday’s victory, the club improves to 9-4 when playing in away games. On the other hand, Baltimore is just 9-8 when playing at home so far this season. This series has been extremely close since the start of 2012, as the teams have split their 16 games in that time (8-8) with the Tigers holding a 4-3 edge at Camden Yards.

Drew Smyly has been impressive for Detroit this year as both a starter and a reliever, and has a 2.45 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over his past three starts. His last outing came on Thursday against the Astros as he earned his second loss of the season after pitching only 5.1 innings while giving up three runs on five hits (1 HR) and issuing more walks (3) than strikeouts (2). Smyly is striking out his opposition at a career-low rate this season (7.6 K/9) but has left 81.4% of runners on base and benefited from a low .257 BABIP. He has never started against the Orioles in his career, but has thrown eight innings over three relief appearances against them, going 1-0 without allowing a run and giving up just two hits with eight strikeouts (2 walks). OF Nick Markakis (.309 BA) had an 18-game hitting streak snapped on Monday night and is leading the team in average, while OF Nelson Cruz tops the team with 10 homers and 30 RBI so far on the year. 3B Manny Machado recently returned from his knee injury, but is just 8-for-43 (.186) with a solo homer and six strikeouts this season. The Tigers’ bullpen was solid on Monday (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's), but has gone just 5-4 this season with a 4.78 ERA and 1.31 WHIP while saving 10-of-14 games. Joe Nathan (3.95 ERA, 8 saves) has been perfect in his past seven save opportunities after blowing two of his first three on the year, and has not allowed a run in his past seven innings on the mound.

Ubaldo Jimenez had a very rough start to the season with his new club, losing four of his first five starts while sporting a 6.59 ERA in the month of April. So far he has been tremendous in his first two starts of May, going 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA while getting 13 strikeouts and three walks over 12.2 innings against two top-10 offenses (Tampa Bay and Minnesota). He has been striking just 7.7 batters per nine innings this season after mowing down 9.6 per nine last year, and is also walking way too many batters so far (4.5 BB/9). Jimenez has not done well at all against the Tigers over his career, going just 5-9 (7-9 team record) with a 5.62 ERA and 1.57 WHIP against then while losing each of his past two starts. He could not get out of the fourth inning in either outing, surrendering 14 hits and nine runs while getting six strikeouts and six walks in just seven frames. Both DH Victor Martinez (7-for-21, 3 HR, 9 RBI) and 1B Miguel Cabrera (14-for-41, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 8 BB, 8 K’s) have dominated Jimenez in this matchup, while OF Rajai Davis (0-for-5) and OF Don Kelly (2-for-12) have had their struggles. Baltimore’s bullpen has pitched to an 8-2 record with a 3.73 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, and is 13-for-18 (72%) at saving games. Closer Tommy Hunter (4.40 ERA, 11 saves) has gone 11-for-13 in save opportunities so far but has been extremely unlucky with opponents hitting .422 BABIP against him.

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