Coming off his first career complete game, Rick Porcello tries to move the Detroit Tigers closer to an AL Central title on Monday evening in the opener of a four-game series with the Seattle Mariners.
Porcello won for the third time in his last four starts with a one-run effort against the White Sox on Tuesday. The righty worked around seven hits and a walk while striking out six in going the distance for the first time.
"He had some innings where he got some quick outs and I think that saved him," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Porcello, who improved to 12-8 with a 4.56 earned run average this season.
Porcello, 24, has not faced the Mariners this season and is 3-2 against them lifetime with a 3.79 ERA in six starts.
Detroit has a magic number of nine to seal up the division crown after beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Sunday. It is five games up on Cleveland, which won on Sunday.
The Tigers won for the fourth time in their past five games as Alex Avila drove in all three runs on a pair of homers, while Prince Fielder had three hits.
Max Scherzer was again denied his 20th victory of the season, but did match a season high with 12 strikeouts in the no-decision.
Looking to slow Detroit's postseason march will be Joe Saunders, who is 11-14 with a 5.18 ERA in 30 starts and has struggled as of late for the Mariners.
The veteran lefty has lost four of his past five decisions with a 7.53 ERA over that seven-start span. He is coming off a loss to Houston on Tuesday, charged with six runs on seven hits and a walk in just three innings of work.
That was the second-shortest outing of the season for Saunders, behind a 1 2/3-inning effort versus Pittsburgh on June 25.
"He's a great competitor but you haven't seen the command," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Saunders, 32, is 1-2 with a 5.26 ERA in nine lifetime meetings with the Tigers and faces them for the first time since 2011.
Seattle was routed in St. Louis 12-2 on Sunday to drop the rubber match of a three-game set. The Mariners had held the Cardinals to three runs in the first two contests, but starter Erasmo Ramirez was drilled for five runs and eight hits over five innings.
The M's were held to just five hits, with Abraham Almonte driving in a run and scoring once in Seattle's sixth loss in seven games.
The Tigers took two of three from the Mariners in Seattle back in April, but were swept in three games in the lone meeting between the clubs last year in Detroit.