The Detroit Tigers have a long trip ahead of them and first must take care of business at home. Today the club will play the rubber match of a three-game set versus the St. Louis Cardinals at Comerica Park in hopes of winning its fourth straight series.
The Tigers had won three straight and seven of nine games until they were upended, 3-1, by the Cardinals in Wednesday's middle portion of this series. Austin Jackson gave Detroit an early lead with an RBI double in the third inning, but the Cardinals responded with three unanswered runs for the win.
Jackson had a team-high two hits for Detroit, which is 3-2 on a six-game homestand and three games off the lead in the AL Central. Rick Porcello was dealt the loss for allowing two runs and 10 hits in seven innings. He was outdueled by Cardinals veteran Jake Westbrook, who went the distance and allowed just an unearned run.
"I just tip my hat to Westbrook," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He had a great sinker and then he went to a cutter and a few breaking balls later in the game. He's a smart veteran."
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-4 and snapped a streak of four straight games with an RBI. He entered the game batting .351 with seven homers and 33 RBI in his previous 37 contests. Detroit newcomer Prince Fielder was also hitless in four at-bats and was hitting .358 with five home runs and 28 RBI in his past 33 games.
Detroit catcher Gerald Laird left the game in the fifth inning with a hamstring cramp. He suffered the injury sliding into second base and could land on the disabled list. Laird has been filling in for injured backstop Alex Avila, who was activated from the disabled list with a balky hamstring. Avila hasn't played since June 5 versus Cleveland because of the problem and was batting .250 with five homers and 20 RBI before the injury.
After hosting the Cardinals, Detroit will embark on a 10-game road trip against Pittsburgh, Texas and Tampa Bay.
Jacob Turner is a highly-touted prospect for the Tigers and will make his 2012 debut this afternoon. Turner was the ninth overall pick in the 2009 MLB First- Year Player Draft and made three starts last season, going 0-1 with an 8.53 earned run average. He is very familiar with the Cardinals organization, having grown up in St. Charles, MO, and was recalled from Triple-A Toledo.
Turner, a right-hander, has never faced St. Louis and was 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA in seven starts in the minors.
St. Louis is 1-1 so far on a nine-game trek through Detroit, Kansas City and Miami, and halted a two-game slide with last night's win. Westbrook was on point in his first complete game in more than two years and struck out five batters with one walk.
"To give the bullpen a rest and go out there and finish the game is always nice," Westbrook said after going the distance for the first time since 2010.
Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran each had two hits and a run scored for the defending World Series champion Cardinals, who entered the game with five losses in eight tries and are 3 1/2 games off the top spot in the NL Central. Cardinals right fielder Allen Craig jammed his left wrist making a catch and X-rays came back negative. He is not expected to miss any time.
"It's never a good feeling when you feel a little something, but it should be all right," Craig said. "It didn't feel good, but I think I got lucky. I think it could have been much worse."
Beltran is riding a 12-game hitting streak and has six multi-hit games in that span. He is second in the National League with 19 homers (Ryan Braun, 20).
Kyle Lohse will make his 15th start of the season for St. Louis on Thursday and is trying to get back into the win column after an unsuccessful trip to the bump his previous time out. In a 3-2 loss last Friday versus the Royals, Lohse tossed seven innings and surrendered three runs and 10 hits to fall to 6-2 on the season. He raised his ERA slightly from 2.90 to 2.98.
Lohse, who is 4-1 in eight road starts this season, has faced Detroit plenty of time in his career as evidenced by a 7-6 mark and 5.95 ERA in 20 games, 19 of which have been starts. The right-hander is 3-3 with a 5.06 ERA in 11 starts at Comerica Park.
St. Louis took two of three from the Tigers the last time these teams faced off back in 2009 at Busch Stadium. Detroit is 11-3 against the Cardinals at Comerica Park.