Detroit Tigers (53–41) at Cleveland Indians (50–47)
Time/Place: 1:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Let's Go Tribe
Pitching Matchup: LHP Drew Smyly (5–8, 4.00 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (5–6, 4.21 ERA)
Josh Tomlin will be making his second start against the Tigers this season. He was hit hard in his last outing, giving up eight runs (five earned) in only four innings of work. In that game he gave up a deep solo home run to Miguel Cabrera, but it was sharp doubles and singles that did him in. Tomlin has been striking out over eight batters per nine innings this year, which is the highest of his career. He has also managed to keep the walks at a minimum, giving up just over one walk per nine. It's the .293 BABIP that has been a thorn in his side. His 3.09 xFIP suggests that if he can keep the ball in the yard and have some relative luck on batted balls he will have a good night.
Drew Smyly faced the Indians on May 19, and he did not pitch particularly well. Lasting only five innings, he labored though 110 pitches, walking five. His season has been a mixed bag this year, looking sharp and poised at times, and others looking lost. The southpaw will give the left-handed heavy Indians lineup a different perspective, facing right-handers in the first three games. Smyly will need to stay down in the zone, since he induces ground balls only 36% of the time. More than 11 percent of the fly balls he gives up turn into home runs, and the Indians come into the game fifth in the league in long balls. Just like every other pitcher in the Tigers' rotation, Smyly needs to steer clear of Michael Brantley who is playing out of his mind right now.
Hitter to fear: Michael Brantley (.500/.583/.900 in 12 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Jason Kipnis (.000/.000/.000 in 10 plate appearances)
The Tigers' offense is averaging 4.6 runs per game when Drew Smyly is on the mound. This is a trend that will need to continue on Sunday. The bats have gone cold coming out of the All-Star break and a win this afternoon could salvage an otherwise ugly series. There have not been many attempts to steal on Josh Tomlin this year, but look for the Tigers to be more aggressive on Sunday to try and generate some runs.
Smyly pitches effectively and the Tigers go into the ninth with a two run lead. Joba Chamberlain gets the call to close out the game.