Oakland Athletics (51-31) at Detroit Tigers (45-34)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Athletics Nation
Pitching Matchup: LHP Brad Mills (1-0, 4.35 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (10- 4, 3.41 ERA)
Rick Porcello not only leads the Tigers with ten wins for the 2014 season -- and is going for a league leading eleventh victory -- he leads all American League pitchers with 19 wins over the past calendar year. Only the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka has reached eleven wins for the 2014 season. The 25 year old former first round draft choice is showing signs of having a breakout season.
The Athletics will be starting left-hander Brad Mills, who is making just his third start of the season after being acquired by the A's for just one dollar from the Milwaukee Brewers on June 17. He had signed a minor league contract with the right to opt out if he wasn't promoted to the major leagues. The Brewers hadn't called Mills up, but the A's were in need of at least a temporary replacement for the injured Drew Pomeranz, so Mills got the break that he was looking for. A former fourth round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, he has had a rocky road thus far in his major league career.
In his last start, Mills went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits and no walks against the New York Mets, picking up his first victory since 2012. His previous outing against the Boston Red Sox did not go as well for him, lasting just four innings, allowing three runs in a no-decision. Over his career, Mills has made a dozen starts, going 4-3 with a 7.21 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.70. Prior to pitching for the A's this season, he played in Japan, having made his last start with the Angels in 2012.
Hitter to fear: Coco Crisp (.375/.412/.438 in 17 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Josh Donaldson (.000/.000/.000 in 4 plate appearances)
One of the big keys to Porcello's success this season has been his ability to get left handers out. After allowing left-handers to hit over .300 against him in his career through last season, he has held them to a batting line of just .248/.309/.383 this season. It's hard to understate how important this has been for Porcello.
The Tigers have the advantage on paper, with Porcello going against Mills, but the right-handed heavy Tiger lineup ranks just 13th in the league in wOBA against left-handed pitchers this season. They should get to a pitcher like Mills early and often if they show some plate discipline.
A big inning gives Porcello the run support that he needs, with the Tiger bullpen barely hanging on for the win as the Tigers close the gap against the AL's winningest team.