Detroit (21-15) started this 3 game series last night with their 7th straight win over Houston 7-2 last night at a chilly Comerica Park. The victory put the Tigers back in sole possession of first place atop the AL Central because Cleveland split a doubleheader with the NY Yankees. Doug Fister (4-1 3.14) is off to a fast start in 2013 and takes the hill for Detroit this evening. Fister is coming off a rough outing at Washington last week surrendering 5 runs on 8 hits in just 3 IP in a 5-4 defeat. Fister has showed great control so far striking out 33 and walking just 8 in 43 IP overall while averaging right around 100 pitches each outing.
Fister will be facing a Houston (10-29) lineup who is hitting just .247 overall despite averaging right around 4 runs per game along with 39 HR to show for. Despite hitting just .221 former Oakland Athletic Chris Carter leads the 'Stros in HR's (9) and RBI (22). Jose Altuve (.333) leads Houston in hitting doing a nice job in the top half of the lineup, however will miss the final 2 games of the series being placed on the bereavement list. The offense, who just released Rick Ankiel has veteran balance thanks to Carlos Pena (.230 3 10) and Jason Castro (.249 3 9), but others need to show more consistency at the plate in order for the Astros to shake off their anemic start. Fisher will look to focus with vengeance as he has shown in recent years to appear more comfortable at home along with the expected results.
Houston counters with Lucas Harrell (3-3 4.67) who was pounded by these same Tigers last week at Minute Maid Park. The righty yielded 8 runs on 10 hits in 4.3 IP in a 17-2 obliterating. Most of the damage came in the first inning as Detroit scored four runs, with two coming on a two-run double by Victor Martinez. He also surrendered two runs in the second and was finally pulled after giving up an RBI double to Alex Avila in the fifth. Harrell (3-3) finished with four walks and three strikeouts and saw his ERA balloon from 3.60 to 4.67. The Tigers, who have also belted 39 HR this season lead the majors with a .284 average. Miguel Cabrera leads the team in hitting (.369) and RBI's (40) while second behind Prince Fielder in HR with 7. Fielder (.289 9 33) has certainly found a home in Detroit since his days in Milwaukee reaching base safely in his last 23 games. Harrell may run into difficulty trying to retire Tigers batters as he as endured control problems evident by his 26 BB and 28 K's in just 44.3 IP.
Another bargain of a price this evening in a park once known for favoring pitchers now shifting in edge to the hitters. In recent years Comerica's dimensions have diminished a bit also considering the wide open area of the field in each corners challenging the outfielders. We look to start a new streak this evening as both pitchers look to rebound with a quality start facing each other with intriguingly productive lineups. Best of luck however you play!