San Francisco Giants (77-64) at Detroit Tigers (77-64)
Time/Place: 1:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: McCovey Chronicles
Pitching Matchup: LHP Madison Bumgarner (16-9, 2.97 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (13-10, 3.25 ERA)
Madison Bumgarner might not be Clayton Kershaw, but that is perhaps the only criticism you can offer of the Giants' 25 year old left-hander. Bumgarner emerged onto the scene during the Giants' 2010 World Series run, and quickly evolved into one of the top pitchers in the game. He has logged at least 200 innings with a sub-3.50 ERA in each of the past three seasons, and is on pace to make it four in a row in 2014. Bumgarner has taken an extra step this year, simultaneously posting the highest strikeout and lowest walk rates of his career. His 2.81 FIP is the second-best measure of his career, while his 2.88 xFIP is the lowest he has ever had.
If Bumgarner has a weakness -- given his recent success, I'm stretching that term -- it's an inability to work a clean inning. In particular, Bumgarner has trouble with leadoff hitters. In his 29 starts, the first batter of the game is 10 for 26 with three walks, a .448 on-base percentage. The top two spots in a batting order have combined to hit .298 with a .326 on-base percentage. Opposing batters are hitting .276/.328/.387 when leading off an inning. Bumgarner buckles down with men on base, though. He is allowing a .566 OPS with runners in scoring position, with just two home runs allowed.
If anyone was worried about David Price after he gave up eight runs in two innings against the New York Yankees, Price quickly quieted the doubters in his last start. He tossed a gem amid a flurry of run support, allowing one run in seven innings in a 12-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians. It was his fourth outing in a Tigers uniform with seven iinnings pitched and seven strikeouts or more. He will need to be at his best this afternoon, as the Giants' 105 wRC+ against left-handed pitching leads the National League.
Hitter to fear: Michael Morse (.286/.375/.714 in 8 plate appearances)
Hitter to fail: Buster Posey (.000/.000/.000 in 4 plate appearances)
Both Price and Bumgarner have one previous career start against their respective opponents this afternoon. As you can imagine with a pair of ace-caliber left-handers, things didn't go well for the opposing offenses. Price tossed nine innings against the Giants while playing for the Tampa Bay Rays last year, allowing one run in a 2-1 extra innings victory. Bumgarner struck out nine in 7 1/3 innings against the Tigers back in 2011, a 4-3 Giants victory.
The Tigers offense will be hoping to catch Bumgarner on an off day, as he's nearly untouchable when he's on. The bad news? He has been on a hot streak lately, allowing a 1.57 ERA in six August starts. He threw a pair of shutouts last month and had three outings with 10 strikeouts or more. Overall, he had 56 strikeouts to just three (!) walks in 46 innings. Luckily, Price has been just as good if you're willing to overlook his meltdown against the Yankees 10 days ago. It doesn't take a genius to see that runs will be hard to come by this afternoon.
The Tigers make an early lead stand up to get back into the win column.
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