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Game 120 Preview: Orioles at Tigers

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July 27, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Zach Britton (53) pitches in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
July 27, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Zach Britton (53) pitches in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Baltimore Orioles (64-55) at Detroit Tigers (64-55)

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

SB Nation Blog: Camden Chat

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

Pitching Matchup: LHP Zach Britton (1-1, 8.10 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (9-7, 4.68 ERA)

Britton is a 24 year old lefty who is a bit more hyped than some of the no-names that have shut down the Tigers' offense this season. He was a 3rd round pick out of high school in 2006 and made his Major League debut last season with a 11-11 record and a 4.61 ERA in 28 starts. This year, Britton has only started 5 games for the Orioles largely due to a shoulder injury that plagued him throughout the offseason and Spring Training. His fastball sits at 92-93 mph and he also features a decent slider and a solid changeup.

As you can see from his line above, Britton has not pitched well in 2012. Four of his five starts have resulted in him allowing at least 4 earned runs, and the fifth start was a solid outing against the hapless Cleveland Indians. His difficulties have stemmed largely from a complete lack of command. His walk rate was a respectable 3.62 last season and 3.51 in 9 starts at AAA Norfolk this season, but he has walked a ridiculous 6.17 batters per 9 innings in MLB action this year. Combine this with a drop in his LOB% (57.5% down from 63.4%) and you can see why he has struggled to keep runs off the board this season.

Before you close the book on Porcello, bear this in mind: in his last 6 starts, he has a 5.21 ERA , allowing 22 earned runs in 38 innings. This is not good. However, those last six starts have come against the six highest scoring offenses in the American League, and he still won three of them. Porcello needs to better, but I'm not going to call for his head when (a) he's facing some pretty good teams and (b) he's still pitching better than Anibal Sanchez. Look for a better outing tonight from Kid Rick.

Stop pitching to Nick Markakis

If he hits another double in this series, I might be forced to strangle someone. Of course, this means he will homer in his first at bat.

Outlook

I think that this is a more important game for the Tigers than some realize. I don't like the fact that they are facing Wei-Yin Chen tomorrow, a solid lefty who already shut them down once this season. Couple that with the fact that Doug Fister will be pitching and it just screams "frustrating offensive output." Also, I think it's important for Porcello to pitch well tonight now that he's finally out of his murderer's row stretch of starts. I think that the Tigers will get to Britton, but Porcello needs to avoid the turrible innings that have plagued him in recent outings.

Prediction

Porcello struggles to get through 6, but the offense picks up another late victory.