Published August 26, 2014
(SportsNetwork.com) - A battle for wild card positioning could be anything but wild given the two hurlers set to start Tuesday's opener between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers.
The first of three straight meetings will pit New York's Brandon McCarthy against Rick Porcello of Detroit and both starters are coming off of shutouts.
McCarthy continued his surge since being acquired by the Yankees from the Arizona Diamondbacks, improving to 5-2 with a 1.90 earned run average in eight starts since the trade. He scattered four hits and did not walk a batter in his fourth career shutout, a 3-0 win over Houston on Thursday.
The righty also struck out eight batters for the third time in four starts, snapping a two-start slide.
"He was in command most of the game," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "He wasn't in trouble much today."
McCarthy is 4-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 17 career meetings with Detroit, including 10 starts, and beat the Tigers on Aug. 4 in the Bronx as he was charged with one unearned run over 5 2/3 innings.
Porcello, meanwhile, halted a three-start losing streak with a three-hit shutout of Tampa Bay on Wednesday. The right-hander did not walk a batter and struck out four, moving to 14-8 with a 3.10 ERA this year.
"Obviously Porcello was the big factor in this game. We can't ask for anything more," said Detroit manager Brad Ausmus.
Porcello could ask for some run support given his last result versus the Yankees. He lost in New York on Aug. 7 even though he allowed only one run over seven innings of a 1-0 setback. That left him 3-3 lifetime versus the Yankees with a 4.18 ERA.
The Tigers are a half-game behind Seattle for the second wild card spot in the American League after taking the final two contests of a four-game set with Minnesota over the weekend. Victor Martinez hit a two-run homer in Sunday's 13-4 rout, matching his previous career high of 25 home runs in a season set with Cleveland in 2007.
Martinez has 18 homers in 83 games versus New York, batting .285, and is 9- for-24 in his career against McCarthy with five doubles and one homer.
Detroit also is just 1 1/2 games behind Kansas City for first place in the AL Central and got some help from New York when the Yankees beat the Royals 8-1 on Monday in a makeup game.
Michael Pineda pitched into the seventh inning to win for the first time since April, Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits with a home run and Martin Prado ignited a four-run seventh frame with a home run.
"I tried to be a little more aggressive and make good pitches," said Pineda, who had his longest outing of the season by going 6 1/3 innings. "I'm very happy today. I feel pretty good."
His effort helped the Yankees match a season high with five straight wins as they sit 2 1/2 games back in the wild card race.
New York earned Monday's win despite Mark Teixeira sitting out with a sore hamstring and Brett Gardner missing his second straight contest due to a bruised right ankle. The duo's status for this game is unknown.
The Yankees have won six of their last eight versus the Tigers, winning three of four at home from Aug. 4-7.