The battle for the American League Wild Card lead continues tonight as the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers meet for the second part of a three-game series at Comerica Park.
Detroit caught up to the Orioles in the standings on Friday with its 5-3 victory in the opening game of the series. Prince Fielder delivered an All- Star performance by going 2-for-3 at the plate with two home runs, four RBI, and a walk in the crucial win.
"Prince was huge for us," said Detroit catcher Alex Avila. "He's the player of this game. Just came up huge when we just couldn't get anything really going as a whole offensively."
Miguel Cabrera also contributed a multi-hit game by going 2-for-3 with a home run and three runs scored on Friday. Other than Delmon Young's second inning double, the rest of the Tigers' lineup went hitless.
Justin Verlander started for Detroit and allowed three runs on six hits while striking out six batters in six innings. Joaquin Benoit pitched a perfect eighth inning to earn the decision and Jose Valverde picked up his 23rd save of the season.
Detroit has won 28 of its last 44 games to pull within 1 1/2 games of the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central standings. Friday's win tied the Tigers with Baltimore for the second Wild Card spot and they only trail the Rays by one game for first place in the Wild Card race.
The Tigers will turn the ball over to Rick Porcello tonight as they try to pass the Orioles. The right-hander has a 5.40 ERA and allowed a .329 batting average over his past seven starts. Despite his struggles, Porcello defeated Boston and the Yankees in two of his past three outings.
He is 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA in two starts against the Orioles, beating them as a 20-year-old rookie in 2009.
Baltimore will counter with lefty Zach Britton. The southpaw saw his ERA climb to 8.10 after allowing four earned runs in five innings to Seattle's lackluster offense on Aug. 7. Britton lasted only 3 2/3 innings in a start for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, allowing six runs to cross the plate.
"I think sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself to compete and you forget about executing pitches," Britton told the team's official website. "That's really what I need to do now."
Offensively for the visitors, Nick Markakis went 2-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI in Friday's loss. Manny Machado continued to find success at the MLB level and improved his August batting average to .333 by going 2-for-4 with a double. Adam Jones went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Both first baseman Mark Reynolds and manager Buck Showalter were ejected in the fifth inning after debating a call that was reversed by the umpire crew.
"It's a tough one for us, but if I know our guys and what we've been doing all year, they're going to bounce back," Showalter said.
Baltimore has now lost its last two after a three-game winning streak. The Orioles are in third place in the AL East and trail the first-place Yankees by seven games.
Detroit won two of three games in a July series against the O's and the teams split their 2011 season series, five games apiece.