Prince Fielder capped a strong first half in his first season with the Detroit Tigers by winning his 2nd HR derby crown. Now one of the most feared lefty swingers gets his first chance to take aim at B&O Warehouse. Fielder will make his first appearance at Camden Yards as the Tigers look to extend their season-high win streak to six Friday night in the opener of a three-game set against the surprising Baltimore Orioles, who have activated injured outfielder Nick Markakis. Signed to a $214 million, nine-year contract by Detroit (44-42) in the offseason, Fielder has turned in his typical production with 15 homers and 63 RBIs to rank second on the team in those departments to Miguel Cabrera.
Fielder totaled 28 home runs over three rounds to win Monday's Home Run Derby in Kansas City. He had the four longest drives of the night, including a pair at 476 feet. That distance would be enough to reach B&O Warehouse, which sits 439 feet from home plate beyond right field at Camden Yards. Fielder's only previous games against Baltimore (45-40) came when he went 5 for 11 with three homers in a 2008 series in Milwaukee. Markakis is set to make his first appearance since May 29 after being on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a broken bone in his wrist.
He's 6 for 14 off Tigers starter Doug Fister (2-6, 4.75 ERA), who is 0-4 with a 4.89 ERA in six road outings. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.68 ERA in four career starts against the Orioles. Baltimore starter Jason Hammel (8-5, 3.47) is the staff leader in victories, but he's 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA in his last three outings. He's 2-0 with a 6.61 ERA in three career starts against Detroit. The Orioles are over .500 at the All-Star break for the first time since 2005, although they have dropped nine of 13. They are optimistic about ending a string of 14 straight losing seasons since the franchise's last playoff berth in 1997. Detroit has been a disappointment after winning 95 games to capture the AL Central last year and then adding Fielder. The Tigers are in third place in the division, but have been playing better lately and sit 3 1/2 games behind Chicago.
The price here is noticeably quite steep given both teams had an extra day of rest and are eager to get back into the swing of things. At this rate Cabrera (.321 18 74) will only look to continue to pad his all star stats as the Tigers, who hit .270 overall in the first half continue their quest to capture the AL Central crown during the second half. In addition, Delmon Young (.271 10 .37) and Austin Jackson (.333 9 38) have been key pieces to the Tigers success that may make things even more difficult for Hammel and the O's to turn their recent struggles around. Brennan Boesch has shown some signs of solving his funk over the last week or so but has just 8 HR and 31 RBI while hitting just .243. Meanwhile, the O's have struggled over the last few weeks and have seen their average drop to .240 falling 7 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. Adam Jones (.289 20 44) is tied for team lead in RBIs and has endured quite a bit of tough luck since his long ballas have been the majority of the solo variety. Chris Davis (.271 14 40) continues to produce solidly given the bulk of the playing time at first. Matt Wieters (.247 12 44) has also shown plenty of pop as has JJ Hardy (.224 12 33) despite their mendoza like overall success. Either way Detroit needs a solid effort from a struggling Fister despite their being ample time for the Tigers to regain their championship caliber expectancy. Best of luck however you play!