Game 101 Preview: Tigers at Blue Jays

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 24: Newly acquired players Omar Infante #18 and Anibal Sanchez #19 of the Detroit Tigers shag balls in the outfield during batting practice prior to the game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on July 24, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers (53-47) at Toronto Blue Jays (50-49)

Time/Place: 1:00 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 Anibal Sanchez (5-7, 3.94 ERA) vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez (6-7, 4.91 ERA)

Alvarez has a tendency to give up runs in bunches in one start, then completely shut down the opposition in his next outing. He has seven starts this year where he gave up at least 5 runs and nine quality starts. He has struggled more often in the last couple months, holding an ERA of 5.91 since the beginning of June. He gets absolutely eaten alive by lefties, who are hitting .310/.371/.512 off of him this season. Of his 28 walks issued this season, 24 are to left-handed hitters. This disparity has led me to decide on a very bold prediction, listed below. Prince Fielder will probably do some nice damage too.

Other than the All-Star Break, the most agonizing waiting period during the regular season is after trading for a starting pitcher. It felt like forever and a day before Doug Fister took the mound for the Tigers last season, and we're still waiting for Jarrod Washburn to show up in 2009. Sanchez will be scrutinized more heavily than those two from the get-go because of what it took to get him -- well, other than Alli mourning the loss of Casper Wells, of course -- and if he doesn't get off to a hot start, the masses will once again be calling for Dumbrowski's head (see what I did there?). While I believe Dombrowski's track record gives him a pass if Turner outperforms Sanchez in the future, it would be nice to see Sanchez get off to a good start with a solid outing today.

Sanchez provides an immediate upgrade over Drew Smyly because, if nothing else, he averages over one full inning more than Smyly per start. Smyly hasn't been particularly effective lately either. His last start -- the 10 strikeout effort against Kansas City -- went well, but in June and July, he has a 6.57 ERA and is just 2-2. Sanchez had a couple of rough starts in June that inflated his ERA, but has rebounded with a steady July. In his last two starts, he has allowed 5 runs in 14 innings while striking out 15 batters.

Short rant

It would be nice if the Texas Rangers could actually beat the Chicago White Sox. Seriously Wash, get it together.

Outlook

Sanchez faced the Blue Jays back on June 22nd, and it was his worst outing of the season. I would expect him to rebound today, but whether he can out-duel a young pitcher making his first appearance against the Tigers in his career remains to be seen. If the Tigers continue their tradition of being dominated by young, middling arms, then this could be a long afternoon.

Prediction

Brennan Boesch takes a walk today.

Gameday Reading:

When the Soul of the City Was Laid To Rest: Jays 8, Detroit 3 - Bluebird Banter
"Of the Jays, only Yan Gomes failed to reach base safely, and he was asked to sacrifice bunt in one of his plate appearances, which he did successfully."

The Tigers Got Owned By Jeff Mathis - Walkoff Woodward, Grey Papke
"But Mathis remains a black hole of suck on offense, and the Tigers let said black hole get the big hit against them in Friday’s 8-3 defeat." Mathis has an .826 OPS this season. Crazier things have happened.

Angels acquire Zack Greinke from Brewers for three prospects - MLB.com, Joe McIntyre
This was... unexpected.

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