Cleveland Indians (71-62) at Detroit Tigers (78-56)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Let's go Tribe
Pitching Matchup: RHP Zach McAllister (7-7, 3.51 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (10-7, 4.49 ERA)
The last time McAllister faced the Tigers, Ryan Raburn pitched. McAllister gave up six runs (five earned) on four hits and four walks in 2 1/3 innings. You know the rest from there: Max Scherzer cruised to his 17th win and the Tigers completed a four game sweep at Progressive Field. Since then, McAllister has been excellent, posting a 1.83 ERA in his last three starts, with 17 strikeouts to just five walks.
This stretch might finally be a sign that McAllister has recovered from the finger sprain that left him on the disabled list for almost two months earlier this season. He struck out 7.9 batters per nine innings last season, but was only fanning 6.2 hitters per nine innings prior to hitting the DL. Since coming back from the DL, he is closer to last season's strikeout rate, with 34 in his last 39 1/3 innings.
Even Rick Porcello seems to have been affected by the pitching staff's recent bout of wildness. He only gave up four hits in seven innings, but one was a huge two-run homer off the bat of Travis d'Arnaud. He also gave up three walks for the second time this season. Despite all of this, he retired the last 10 batters he faced and helped save the bullpen so Drew Smyly could pitch in a 10-run blowout against the Oakland A's. It was a nice respite from his previous three starts, where he allowed 11 runs in 15 1/3 innings.
The Indians' chances at winning the division were all but over when Raburn took the mound in the ninth inning on August 8th, but anything besides a Tribe sweep in this series will put the final nail in the coffin. Sure, the Chicken Littles of the Tigers fanbase might try to party like it's 2009, but it's hard to see the Indians making up this large of a deficit without having any more games left against their rivals.
For the Indians, McAllister needs to pitch like he has in his last three outings. He benefited from pitching in a couple big stadiums in Minnesota and Los Angeles, but the 17-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio is a huge improvement over his start against the Tigers. Porcello, on the other hand, just needs to pitch like he has against the Indians all year -- a 2-0 record and 1.42 ERA in three starts isn't bad, right?
Porcello continues to roll against the Indians and the Tigers beat the Tribe for the 14th time this season.