Manager: Brad Ausmus, first year
Last 10 games: 2-0
Who to watch: 1B Miguel Cabrera (.143/.250/.286, 0 HR, 0 RBIs); 2B Ian Kinsler (.333/.333/.667, 1 HR, 2 RBIs); CF Austin Jackson (.286/.375/.714, 2 XBHs); RHP Justin Verlander (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
Season series vs. O’s (2013): 2-4, 27 runs scored, 33 runs allowed
Perhaps the class of the American League Central gets a look at the team that wants to hold that title in the AL East when the Tigers welcome the Orioles to Detroit this weekend.
It marks a matchup between two of the major leagues’ top offenses from a year ago, although the Tigers lineup is quite different. Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta and Omar Infante are gone while shortstop Jose Iglesias could be lost for the season.
Detroit did acquire productive second baseman Ian Kinsler in the Fielder trade, and still is led by Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson and Victor Martinez. But the subtractions are an indication that the Tigers are ready to rely a bit more on a quality pitching staff headed by Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, as well as Anibal Sanchez.
The Tigers opened the season in fine form, earning a rain-shortened two-game sweep over the Royals with a pair of one-run victories.
This weekend provides two must-watch pitching matchups. On Friday, Anibal Sanchez makes his season debut against Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez. Sanchez had an excellent first season with the Tigers in 2013, setting career highs with 14 wins, a 2.57 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
On Sunday, the O’s and Tigers pit ace against ace with Verlander taking on Chris Tillman. Should make for a fun weekend series between two teams with playoff aspirations (and beyond).