The Detroit Tigers will attempt to leave Tropicana Field with a series victory today as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays in the finale of their four-game series.
Rick Porcello went seven scoreless innings to lead Detroit in its 6-2 victory over the Rays on Saturday. Austin Jackson crushed a three-run homer, Jhonny Peralta ripped a two-run single and Prince Fielder added an RBI on a groundout for the Tigers, who have won two of the first three games in this set. Miguel Cabrera finished 3-for-3 with two walks in the victory.
Jackson has now hit safely in seven straight contests and has a .433 batting average over that span. Cabrera enters Sunday's matchup leading the Tigers with 16 home runs, 62 RBI, and 99 hits.
Southpaw Drew Smyly will take the mound for Detroit today. The left-hander made his return from the disabled list on Tuesday, but his comeback was not ideal for Tigers fans. Smyly gave up six earned runs and eight hits in just 4 2/3 innings to Texas in his return. He comes in with a 2-3 record and a 4.48 ERA.
Smyly will be opposed by Rays right-hander Alex Cobb. Cobb is coming off a complete game on Monday in which he gave up eight earned runs on 13 hits and struck out just one batter in an 8-0 loss to Kansas City. Despite the unimpressive numbers, his manager praised his player after the outing.
"It's heroic in a baseball sense because he gave up those five runs, a big lead, he did not cave in. He kept making pitches. He stayed on the mound. He preserved everybody else, which preserves the integrity of the whole group for days. In a baseball sense that was an outstanding performance by [Cobb] tonight," said Rays manager Joe Maddon.
The rookie pitcher held Miami scoreless for seven innings and struck out 10 in his prior start to Monday's complete game. Cobb's only bout against the Tigers took place on June 13, 2011, when he allowed one run and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 2-1, 10-inning loss.
The Rays are in third place in the AL East and come into Sunday trailing the first-place Yankees by 6 1/2 games. Tampa Bay's offense has been non-existent so far this season and will need to improve if it is going to contend for a divisional title. The Rays are third to last in the majors with a team batting average of only .233.
Tampa's only two runs in Saturday's defeat came via solo home runs from Carlos Pena and Jeff Keppinger. Pena's homer in the loss gives him a team-high 11 for the season.
No Rays player with 200 or more at-bats has a batting average above .300. Designated hitter Luke Scott went 0-for-4 at the plate for the second straight game on Saturday and has not hit safely since June 1.
The Tigers lead the all-time series between the clubs, 56-53.