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ON DECK: Tigers head for Chicago for mini interleague series with Cubs

The losing streak is no more. The Detroit Tigers exploded for nine runs on Sunday — their most in a single game since May 28 — en route to a 9-1 win over Toronto to snap their 11-game slide. They then followed that up with a 3-2 extra-inning victory in the series finale on Monday to earn a split in the four-game set north of the border.

[Be sure to also check out our “End of June” report on the Tigers’ farm system]

The starting rotation has done their part in keeping Detroit in games, registering a 2.82 ERA over their last eight games.

UP NEXT

The Tigers (38-48) will wrap up this six-game road swing, continuing with patriotic festivities when they head to the north side of Chicago for the Fourth of July and a mini two-game set with the Cubs (47-35).

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It is always good to partake in some interleague affairs throughout the season. The Cubs have been one of of the best teams in the senior circuit over the last three seasons, having had at least a seat in the League Championship Series each of those years. This year’s pack of Cubs is no different, they lead the National League in team batting average (.266) and OPS (.774) and also carry the second-lowest team ERA (3.58).

These teams last met in 2015, in similar fashion they will this year (two in Chicago, two in Detroit). The Tigers took three of four from the Cubs, including sweeping both games at Wrigley. They tallied 25 runs on 40 hits in those two contests.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1 | Michael Fulmer (Tigers) vs. Kyle Hendricks (Cubs)

Michael Fulmer (3-7, 4.20 ERA) gave the Tigers eight innings in his last start against the Oakland Athletics. It was the deepest he had gone into a game since his eight-inning effort in his first start of the season on April 1. Fulmer allowed four runs to the A’s in that outing but a lot of the damage came early in the game, allowing him to settle in. It wrapped up a month of June in which he compiled a 3.48 ERA in five starts.

Fulmer was not in the show the last time Detroit played the Cubs so he will get his first ever crack against the north-siders.

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Kyle Hendricks (5-8, 4.21 ERA) is in his fifth season with the Cubs since debuting with them in 2014. The 28-year-old has started in all but one of his 116 career games, good for a solid 3.11 ERA. This year, however, is his worst season thus far, in that regard. The 4.21 ERA is nearly doubled of his 2016 totals when he led the NL with a 2.13 ERA and finished third in the Cy Young voting.

Hendricks is coming off his worst start of the year when he went a season-low 2.2 innings and yielded a season-high six earned runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Game 2 | Francisco Liriano (Tigers) vs. José Quintana (Cubs)

Francisco Liriano (3-4, 3.99 ERA) turned in the definition of a quality start (6 IP, 3 ER) against Toronto in his last start. It was his second game since coming off the disabled list on June 23 against Cleveland. This start on Wednesday against the Cubs will be his eighth road start of the year. Liriano has a 3.05 ERA away from Comerica Park this year, versus a 5.47 ERA in five home starts.

The 34-year-old has a lot of experience against the Cubs from his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 14 starts vs. Chicago, Liriano has logged a 3.27 ERA).

The Tigers should be very familiar with José Quintana (6-6, 4.31 ERA), or maybe it is the other way around. The former White Sox hurler is in his first full season on the north side since coming over in a trade midway through last season. Quintana hasn’t quite been what they had hoped for, recording an ERA just a tick over 4.00 in now 30 starts with the Cubs (career 3.51 ERA in 172 games with CWS).

The 29-year-old has been better recently, though, with a 3.45 ERA over his last eight starts. Like Liriano against the Cubs, Quintana has a wealth of experience against the Tigers (4.37 ERA in 18 starts vs. DET).

HITTERS TO WATCH

So you know by now that we typically do not like to showcase the same hitter in consecutive series. But when the team is hitting a collective .210 over the past week and only one guy is hitting over .300 in that span, we have no choice. Nicholas Castellanos is raking, period. He is fresh off a series in Toronto in which he clubbed two homers, including a grand slam on Canada Day. Go back to the Tigers’ June 24 loss in Cleveland and Nick has an OPS approaching 1.300.

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The Cubs are hitting nearly .400 as a club in the last calendar week so pick your poison. But we will lock in on Ian Happ here. The 23-year-old through 72 games is basically right on par with what he did as a rookie last season, trading in some power to get on base more. But over his last nine games, Happ is hitting .483 (14 for 29) with two doubles and a homer, hitting mostly in the bottom of the order during that time (went 3-for-5 hitting leadoff on Monday).

SERIES INFO

  • Game 1 | Tue, July 3 @ 2:20 p.m. ET*
  • Game 2 | Wed, July 4 @ 2:20 p.m. ET

All games can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit unless otherwise noted. Be sure to check your local listings for regional radio broadcasts.

*Can be seen on MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Written by Alex Muller

MSU Graduate. Just a city boy born and raised in south Detroit. Baseball is life, a pitcher at heart. Freelance writer for MIPrepZone (News-Herald, Press & Guide).

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