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AL Central Tigers look to sweep Phillies

The American League Central race continues between the first place Detroit Tigers and the second place Cleveland Indians. Three games separate the two teams, with the third place Kansas City Royals a distant seven games back.

Detroit has won its last two games overall and 7 of its past 10, while Cleveland has won three straight and 6 of 10.

Detroit ends a series today with the Philadelphia Phillies. On Saturday, Miguel Cabrera returned to the Tigers lineup after missing four games due to a sore hip. The Detroit slugger promptly hit a home run in his return to give him 32 for the season to go along with 99 RBIs.

Today the Tigers will send Rick Porcello to the mound to face the Phillies. Porcello is 7-6 on the season with an ERA of 4.49. Since being on the short end of three straight outings to end June, the Detroit right-hander has pitched well with an ERA of just 1.35 over his past three consecutive starts, boasting a 3-0 record over that stretch.

Porcello has a record in interleague games of 2-1 with an ERA of 2.54. His last interleague appearance was in late May versus Pittsburgh where he held the Pirates to just three hits in eight innings of shutout ball for the 1-0 win.

Even though this will be his first appearance against the Phillies, three players for Philadelphia have enjoyed success against the Detroit right-hander. Michael Young has 5 hits in 13 at bats, Ben Revere has 7 hits in 19 at bats, while Delmon Young has 8 hits in 22 at bats.

Jonathan Pettibone will go up against the strong Detroit batting order in today’s matchup. Pettibone is 5-4 on the season with an ERA of 3.97. He has pitched very well over his past six starts, limiting his opponents to three or fewer runs during that stretch. Over that run, Pettibone is 2-1 with an ERA of 3.18. At home, Pettibone is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.68, but on the road is a disappointing 2-3 with an ERA of 5.62.

Although the Tigers got Cabrera and Torii Hunter back into their lineup on Friday, they expect to play without Omar Infante their second baseman for a longer period of time, as he suffered an injury while rehabbing on Saturday. Infante has not been in Detroit’s lineup since July 3.

Detroit however does not have to worry about a strong Phillies lineup. Both Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard are out injured and Philadelphia is hitting only .191 during their current losing streak of seven straight games. Over that stretch, the Phillies have scored just 10 runs. Michael Young and Laynce Nix have just 3 hits in 38 combined at bats during their current skid.

Philadelphia has not lost eight straight since September of 2011.

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