Opposite dugout: Tigers to throw plenty of hitting and pitching at Birds in Baltimore

tigers-logo.jpgManager: Brad Ausmus, first year
Record: 21-12
Last 10 games: 7-3
Who to watch: 1B Miguel Cabrera (.291/.333/.485, 5 HR, 29 RBIs); DH Victor Martinez (.325/.377/.577, 8 HR, 22 RBIs); RHP Justin Verlander (4-2, 2.67 ERA, 43 K); LHP Drew Smyly (2-2, 2.96 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)
Season series vs. O’s: 2-1, 18 runs scored, 13 runs allowed

Pitching probables
May 12: Rick Porcello vs. Bud Norris, 7 p.m., MASN HD
May 13: Drew Smyly vs. Ubaldo Jimenez, 7 p.m., MASN HD
May 14: Justin Verlander vs. Wei-Yin Chen, 12:30 p.m., MASN2 HD

Series breakdown
The Tigers come to Camden Yards for a meeting between two of the American League’s top three teams.

Detroit owns the majors’ best record at 21-12 to lead the AL Central by five games while the first-place Orioles top the AL East with the AL’s third-best mark.

The Tigers are a well-rounded bunch with one of the best lineups and pitching staffs in the AL.

With a deep group led by Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers lead the AL with a .282 average, but are only sixth with 161 runs. They haven’t needed to score more because of a 3.43 team ERA, second-best in the AL, and an AL-best 2.73 starters’ ERA.

Detroit had been one of the hottest teams in the league with an eight-game winning streak that was halted Thursday. The Tigers have lost three of four since.

Pitching has been the key, as Detroit has permitted more than four runs just once in the last 12 games, allowing 33 total runs during that time (2.75 per game).

Detroit pitches its second- and third-best starters against the Orioles, as left-hander Drew Smyly faces Ubaldo Jimenez Tuesday and right-hander Justin Verlander goes up against Wei-Yin Chen in Wednesday’s matinee.

Smyly has a 2.45 ERA over his last three starts and a 2.96 ERA overall this season. Verlander is in the middle of a pretty impressive run of his own, pitching at least seven innings in four straight starts and in six of seven. He has not permitted more than three runs in a game this season on the way to posting a 2.67 ERA through eight starts.

The Tigers’ dangerous lineup provides balance with four players entering the series with an OPS above .800 - Martinez, Austin Jackson, Cabrera and Torii Hunter. Martinez has been the top performer to this point with eight homers, 22 RBIs and a .954 OPS. Cabrera has recovered from a slow start to drive in a team-high 29 runs.

The combination of pitching and hitting that Detroit throws at opponents should be a handful for the Orioles as the teams wrap up their season series in Baltimore.

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