Doesn’t it feel like this most recent series between the Detroit Tigers and the Pittsburgh Pirates happened *snap of the fingers* just like that? Well, that’s because it actually did. Thanks to Mother Nature (again), the two teams squeezed in three games in a span of 24-ish hours on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Tigers now head towards the east coast to wrap up their six-game road swing with a three-game weekend series in Baltimore. The Orioles were struggling mightily when they rolled into Detroit and have continued to do so since they left town. They toppled Cleveland to snap a six-game slide on April 20 but have since then lost five straight.
The once-feared slugging Orioles offense has absolutely vanished. Entering Friday, they rank 14th or worse in the American League in all three slash line categories (BA/OBP/OPS) and are striking out than any other team in the AL.
GAME 1 | Mike Fiers (Tigers) vs. Chris Tillman (Orioles)
Mike Fiers (2-1, 3.71 ERA) allowed four runs (two earned) on a season-high 10 hits against the Kansas City Royals his last time out. Only one of those 10 knocks was for extra bases, really limiting the damage in a start that was overall deemed to be high-leverage in a 2-1 affair. In two career starts against the Orioles, Fiers has allowed just two runs in 14 innings (1.29 ERA).
Baltimore’s Chris Tillman (0-4, 9.87 ERA) has done far more harm than good for his club this season. While it is still relatively early, his strikeouts per nine are at a career low (4.2) and his walks per nine are at a career high (5.7). Tillman has allowed at least four runs and seven hits in each of his first four starts this season.
GAME 2 | Francisco Liriano (Tigers) vs. Andrew Cashner (Orioles)
Francisco Liriano (2-1, 3.13 ERA) continues to be a very solid and serviceable pickup for the Tigers. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning his last time out against Kansas City before the Royals ambushed and subsequently chased him in that same frame. This will be Liriano’s second start against the Orioles, he allowed two runs over five innings in a meeting back on April 17.
Andrew Cashner (1-3, 3.60) has been somewhat of a bright spot for what has otherwise been a dumpster fire in the rotation top to bottom for the Orioles. Cashner in his five starts had collected 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings, well above his career mark in that department. He has, however, been prone to giving up some big knocks. Nearly half of his 27 hits allowed have gone for extra bases, including three such hits against the Tigers back on April 17 (Loss – 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 5 K).
GAME 3 | Daniel Norris (Tigers) vs. Kevin Gausman (Orioles)
The Tigers seem keen on giving Daniel Norris (0-1, 4.85 ERA) as many starts as they can moving forward, even if it means going with a makeshift six-man rotation of sorts. Norris’ lone start of his four appearances this season came against the Royals on April 20, yielding just one run on three hits over 4.2 innings. He pitched two innings of relief just two days ago against Pittsburgh, allowing a run on two hits and a walk.
The Orioles’ Kevin Gausman (1-2, 4.66 ERA) has gradually improved throughout his five starts after turning in a clunker to start the year. His most recent start was probably his best thus far in a tough-luck loss, twirling eight innings of two-run ball against the Cleveland Indians. The start prior to that, he allowed two runs on nine hits in six frames against Detroit.
HITTERS TO WATCH
Miguel Cabrera has found a nice groove lately, with hits in five straight and six of his last seven games overall, including multiple hits in four of those six. We documented the last time Detroit played the Orioles how much Cabrera loves Baltimore pitching. He also has a career .957 OPS in 32 games at Camden Yards.
We also have already highlighted the borderline treasonous Orioles offense and the lack of real major threats throughout the lineup. That is even more so the case with both second baseman Jonathan Schoop (still) on the disabled list and now third baseman Tim Beckham on the shelf since Detroit last saw the O’s. But Manny Machado is still flat-out raking, with a career-high slash line through 25 games in his walk year.
- Game 1 | Fri, April 27 @ 7:05 p.m. ET
- Game 2 | Sat, April 28 @ 7:05 p.m. ET
- Game 3 | Sun, April 29 @ 1:05 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)