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Game 68 Preview: Cardinals at Tigers

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CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 13:  Starting pitcher Rick Porcello #48 of the Detroit Tigers delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 13: Starting pitcher Rick Porcello #48 of the Detroit Tigers delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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St. Louis Cardinals (34-34) at Detroit Tigers (33-34)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: Viva El Birdos

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, ESPN2, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Jake Westbrook (5-6, 4.27 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (4-4, 5.18 ERA)

Westbrook got off to a hot start in 2012, putting up a 4-2 record and 1.76 ERA in his first six starts. Since then, the wheels have come off. He is just 1-4 in his past 7 starts with a 7.05 ERA and only 37 innings pitched. His walk rate jumped slightly, but where Westbrook fell off is that he was simply allowing better contact. In his first 6 starts, his BABIP was .268; in the last seven, that has jumped to .362. Additionally, he has gotten into trouble with the home run ball. After allowing just one dinger in his first six starts, he has given up 6 in his last seven appearances.

Westbrook hasn't faced the Tigers since 2010, when he was a member of the Cleveland Indians. His last two starts against Detroit were successful, but overall he has struggled. In 14 career appearances at Comerica Park, he is 4-5 with a 5.47 ERA and 1.433 WHIP. Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Austin Jackson all have career OPS' above 1.000 against Westbrook, though none have more than 18 career plate appearances against him.

Porcello hasn't had quite the drop off that Westbrook did, but partially because he didn't start as hot as Westbrook did either. Porcello has turned in a pair of 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER outings against the National League this season. His interleague stats throughout his career aren't particularly impressive either. He has a 5.05 ERA in interleague play and has allowed NL batters to hit at a .331/.383/.469 clip in his 3+ seasons in the big leagues. Despite these struggles, his interleague record is 7-3. Let's hope he gets that kind of run support tonight.

Running wild

Porcello has allowed 10 stolen bases this season, tied for 5th in the American League (along with Jose Valverde, oddly enough). The Cardinals are in the bottom half of the National League in stolen bases as a team, but they have four different players with at least 6 steals this season. Expect manager Mike Matheny to send players early and often against Porcello, who has been very slow to the plate from the stretch in 2012.

Outlook

In stark contrast to last night's game, this contest will be decided by which starting pitcher can suck less. As illustrated above, neither guy has history on his side, nor are they currently pitching well. With how taxed the Tigers' bullpen has been lately, the past few days of rest have been sorely needed. With Jacob Turner pitching tomorrow, I hope that Porcello can go deep enough into the game to save Duane Below. However, I'm not sure I see that happening against the Cardinals offense.

Prediction

Porcello continues to struggle, allowing at least three home runs tonight.

Gameday Reading:

Know Thy Enemy: 2012 St. Louis Cardinals - DesigNate Robertson
"So yes, I do not like the Cardinals. And they are next up on the schedule for the Tigers, looking as pedestrian as they did in ’06 at 34-33."

The Unsung Hero - Viva El Birdos
Yadier Molina is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career on both sides of the ball.

Series 23 Preview: Cardinals (34-33, 17-17 away) at Tigers (32-34, 15-17 home) - Walkoff Woodward, Cameron Scott
"Game 2 of the series features 2 starters who have struggled at times this season, Jake Westbrook for the Cardinals and Rick Porcello for the Tigers."