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Game 36 Preview: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles

The Tigers send Anibal Sanchez to the mound in an attempt to stop an 11 game downfall.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers enter tonight's game in Baltimore in fourth place, five games under the .500 mark, while the Orioles are flying high, in first place in the American league's Eastern division, ten games above .500. Detroit has dropped ten of their last eleven games, while Baltimore has won eight of their last ten contests.

The Tigers have been finding ways to lose this season, and this series has been no exception. Baltimore has won the first two games of the four game series in devastating fashion as far as Tigers' fans are concerned. Detroit's bullpen blew what was a 5- 0 lead on Thursday in the series opener, falling 7- 5, and yesterday, Justin Verlander pitched a complete game four hitter and still lost 1- 0, with the lone run coming on an Adam Jones home run.

The series has been typical of the Tigers' season in so many ways. When they get a great pitching performance, the offense disappears. When the bats come alive, either the starting pitchers or the bullpen finds a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Tigers look to have a formidable lineup and much better pitching than the numbers would indicate year to date, but they'll have to start putting things together soon, while there is still a season to be salvaged.

Detroit Tigers (15-20) at Baltimore Orioles (22-12)

Time/Place: 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards
SB Nation blog: Camden Chat
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TVTigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-3, 5.89 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Wright (1-3, 5.83 ERA)

Pitcher IP K/9 BB/9 FIP fWAR
Sanchez 36.2 8.59 5.40 5.25 0.1
Wright 28.1 6.67 2.54 4.13 0.4

In seven starts this season, Anibal Sanchez looks more like the pitcher who struggled in 2015 than the pitcher who was a mainstay near the top of the Tigers' rotation in previous seasons, even winning an ERA title in 2013. While he has managed to increase his strikeout rate and decrease his home run ratio marginally, his walk rate has doubled, and he is still serving up home runs with regularity.

Sanchez, the Tigers' projected number three starter, has been barely above replacement level- which is symptomatic of the Tigers' rotation so far in 2016. He is 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA in two career starts at Camden Yards.

Mike Wright made his debut in 2015, throwing 7-1/3 shutout innings against the Los Angeles Angels. For the season, he worked 44 innings with a 6.13 FIP.  Wright has made five starts for Baltimore this season, posting a 6.07 ERA as a starter and a 5.83 ERA overall, but a fielding independent pitching ratio (FIP) that suggests he has pitched better than those numbers would indicate.

John Sickels wrote this report on Wright for SB Nation's, where he cited the 2014 Baseball Prospect Book:

He has an 89-94 MPH fastball, sometimes higher, mixing the heater with a slider, curveball, and changeup. None of his pitches are excellent but none of them are bad, either, and he has an advanced ability to work the strike zone and hit his spots. He’s also quite durable and eats innings without getting hurt. Wright profiles as a prototypical fourth starter who could be a very fine inning-eater. I can’t shake the feeling that he could exceed those expectations at some point, but I will stick with the Grade B- from last year.

Hitter to fear: Pedro Alvarez, .333 (5 for 15) with a 1.200 OPS vs Sanchez
Hitter to fail: Mark Trumbo is hitting .278 (5 for 18) with a .611 OPS

Trumbo is the worst of current Orioles on the list with at least five career plate appearances against Sanchez.  He's going to need to keep the ball down all day. It will be a minor miracle if he makes it through six innings without serving up a home run in Camden Yards.


After a classic pitchers' duel between Justin Verlander and Chris Tillman yesterday, this game has the makings of a slugfest with two pitchers prone to giving up the long ball and two lineups that are capable of hitting them, in a park that is friendly to home run hitters.


Tigers' bats awaken, and Sanchez limits the Orioles just enough to pick up a Tigers' victory.