The Detroit Tigers have now not only fallen out of first place in the Central Division, but with Friday night's loss to the Seattle Mariners, they've also surrendered long-standing control of the wild card position, as well.
For the first time this year, the Tigers are on the outside looking in of the playoff picture. Worse, they'll have to claw back into contention against Felix Hernandez, one of the American League's best pitchers in 2014. David Price makes his first Detroit start opposite him, meaning the pitching matchup should fascinate.
What else is worth watching as the 2010 and 2012 Cy Young winners square off in a major duel? Here's today's pregame notes.
1. Price Finally Pitching At Home. It's been a while since the Tigers acquired David Price, but with road trips scattered near the end of July and early August, the Detroit fans haven't yet had the chance to cheer on their new pitcher in person. They'll get that opportunity on Saturday. All-time, Price is 11-2 in matchups where he faces a former Cy Young winner, with a solid 2.62 ERA. Felix Hernandez hasn't done as well, going 5-5 with a 3.47 ERA. It will be interesting to watch how that plays out, and the love fest the fans show Price. Also worth noting? Price's last complete game came in May against Seattle.
2. Austin Jackson's Second Day Back. The new Mariners center fielder struggled through his first night back in Detroit., and hasn't done much with Seattle, only hitting .250. Despite nearly all of his teammates hitting around him, Jackson failed to reach base, going 0-5 with a strikeout. He did get a nice standing ovation before coming to bat, though. Saturday, he'll start his night by facing Price, the player he was traded for on July 31 in what should be a delicious first matchup for media, fans and players alike.
3. Lineup Woes. The Tigers couldn't do much off of James Paxton Friday, who cruised through six innings only allowing five hits and one run. The only Tiger to collect more than one hit was Miguel Cabrera with two. As a whole, Detroit's lineup continues to fight through its share of ups and downs lately. As a result, the matchup with Felix Hernandez isn't looking great from Detroit's perspective, considering he's 9-2 against Detroit with a 2.51 ERA and has won his last nine starts against the Tigers. That might not help a lineup struggling to produce.
4. King Felix On His Throne. It's not often the Tigers get to see Felix Hernandez pitch in Detroit. Career, he's 5-1 at Comerica Park with a 3.00 ERA. It's his best performance against a team in their ballpark not named Oakland (9-2) or San Diego (5-0). Not only will the Tigers be facing a tough pitcher, they'll be facing one that loves to dominate them in their stadium historically.
5. Five's The Magic Number. Seems appropriate to end on this note. In the month of August, the Mariners have scored 5.08 runs per game after only averaging 3.83 in the first four months of the season, which has drove their winning streak. Additionally, Detroit is an impressive 45-6 when scoring five or more runs this season. Accomplishing that mission might be difficult tonight with the firepower on the mound, but tonight's race to five is certainly worth noting.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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