The Seattle Mariners are set to close out a seven-game road trip against American League Central competition this afternoon as they complete a four-game series versus the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Seattle, which is just 5-5 over the last 10 games and is 2 1/2 games out of first place in the AL West, has had issues with opponents from the Central Division thus far in 2011 with a record of 11-17. On Saturday the squad again added another loss with an 8-1 setback to the Tigers, the second in the last three outings.
Starting pitcher Michael Pineda was taken out after giving up eight hits and five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings to suffer his second straight defeat.
"He was a little bit off tonight, didn't have quite the same command," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of his starter. "He didn't have the same fastball we've seen him have in regards to his command. It was a little bit flat."
Ichiro Suzuki was back in the starting lineup for the Mariners after taking the day off on Friday and snapping his streak of 255 straight games started in the process. He finished with a pair of hits and scored once on Saturday, but is hitting just .165 (15-for-91) since May 19 and is well below his career batting average right now with a team that is last in the AL in batting at .228.
Max Scherzer allowed just four hits and had four strikeouts while keeping his career record perfect against the Mariners in four decisions against them, picking up his eighth win overall this season in the process for the Tigers.
Jhonny Peralta cracked a two-run home run, Brennan Boesch had three hits and scored twice, and Victor Martinez finished 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI for the hosts as they moved into a virtual tie for first place in the division with the Cleveland Indians, who have dropped three in a row and eight of nine.
Detroit hurler Rick Porcello tries to remain perfect for his career against the Mariners as he takes the hill for the hosts this afternoon. The right-hander, who is 6-3 this season for the Tigers, has already picked up one win versus Seattle in 2011 and is now 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA in four matchups.
The New Jersey native has been on a hot streak since the beginning of May, winning five of his six appearances. On Tuesday Porcello allowed just a single run on six hits and a walk over six innings in an 8-1 victory versus the Texas Rangers on the road.
As for the Mariners, their plan is to hand the ball to right-hander Felix Hernandez in hopes that he too can continue his strong play against the Tigers. A seven-year veteran, Hernandez matched up against Detroit in late April and made it through six innings with just two earned runs allowed as the Mariners picked up the 7-3 road win. For his career Hernandez is 7-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 10 all-time games.
More recently the 2010 AL Cy Young winner again failed to get much run support in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on the road on Tuesday. In that bout Hernandez was touched for five runs on eight hits, two of those being home runs, while walking two and striking out five over 6 2/3 innings of work.
The Tigers have posted at least one extra-base hit in all 64 games this season. The 64-game streak is the longest streak to begin the season by a Tigers team since at least 1919.
It also marks the longest streak to begin a campaign by an American League club since Tampa Bay collected an extra-base hit in 77 games to begin the 2007 campaign. As a unit, the Tigers are hitting .262 thus far in 2011 which is third-best in the AL.