Game 100 Preview: Tigers at Blue Jays

July 21, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva (33) pitches during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (53-46) at Toronto Blue Jays (49-49)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Rogers Centre

SB Nation Blog: Bluebird Banter

Side note: Drunk Jays Fans is also highly recommended for any and all things Blue Jays. But be warned, the language is what you would expect from a blog called 'Drunk Jays Fans.'

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Rick Porcello (7-5, 4.40 ERA) vs. RHP Carlos Villanueva (5-0, 2.86 ERA)

Villanueva has logged 56 2/3 innings this season, but only joined the Blue Jays' rotation at the end of June due to a number of injuries to their other starters. He is making a great case for staying in the rotation long term, pitching the Blue Jays to wins in each of his four starts. He has a 2.31 ERA as a starter this season, allowing just a .212/.280/.310 slash line to opposing hitters. Villanueva is allowing a higher batting average to right-handed hitters, but lefties have a higher OPS and wOBA off of the 28 year old right-hander.

Porcello will look to rebound from his last start, allowing two abysmal hits to the Chicago White Sox in the 9th inning without recording an out. Sarcasm aside, the first 8 innings of his outing were masterful. He was efficient as all get out, recording 11 ground ball outs and throwing just 94 pitches the entire night. Hopefully someone is able to convince him that the Tigers are playing the White Sox again: Porcello is now 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA against them this year. In his four career starts against Toronto, Porcello is 2-2 with a 3.75 ERA.

Who are the 2012 Blue Jays?

The Blue Jays are the Tigers' last new opponent of 2012 -- until the World Series, of course. They lead the majors in runs scored, but are without Jose Bautista and J.P. Arencibia due to a broken wrist and broken hand, respectively. The pitching staff has also been decimated by injuries; Brandon Morrow, Drew Hutchinson, and Kyle Drabek are all on the DL. All-Star snub Edwin Encarnacion leads the team in nearly every offensive category and has been worth 3.5 WAR this year. Brett Lawrie, only 22 years old, is a budding superstar at third base. Colby Rasmus and Jeff Mathis are both slugging over .450, picking up the slack for the struggling middle infield duo of Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson. Escobar has been the target of recent trade rumors and has been battling back issues this week. Omar Vizquel is still playing baseball.

Outlook

Now that the Tigers are out of the depths of hell Cleveland, normal baseball can resume. The Blue Jays are a fun team to watch, but a dangerous team to play against because of their potent offense. Even without Bautista and Arencibia, Porcello still needs to hit his spots to avoid an early exit. Meanwhile, Villanueva has only made one career start against the Tigers, so we will likely see some very awkward swings from the likes of Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch tonight. Yippee.

Prediction

The Tigers put together a couple of late runs to win a pitcher's duel, 2-1.

Gameday Reading:

Bunt work helps Berry hit - Beck's Blog, Jason Beck
"The work paid off during the game, just not the way you’d expect. He didn’t get a bunt down. He still had three hits, all well-placed singles." Hey, whatever works.

The Blue Jays and .500 - Bluebird Banter, Tom Dakers
"We've never been more than 5 games above .500 and never been worse than 2 games below. It feels like it ought to be some sort of record for, well, averageness (not a word? I guess mediocrity would work)."

Arencibia Out Six Weeks With a Broken Hand - Drunk Jays Fans, Andrew Stoeten
"...with Travis d’Arnaud injured and not slated to return until the Arizona Fall League, we’re looking at Jeff Mathis: starting catcher."

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