The Baltimore Orioles look to improve their postseason standing at the expense of one of their closest challengers on Friday as they open a three-game series at the Detroit Tigers. The Orioles, who hold a one-game lead over the Tigers in the race for the American League’s second wild card, erupted for six homers and 22 runs en route to winning three of the four meetings at Camden Yards in May.
Both teams have stumbled a bit after strong stretches, as Baltimore suffered its second loss in four contests with a 7-6 setback versus Tampa Bay on Wednesday while Detroit had won 11 of 14 before dropping two straight to the Chicago White Sox. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado has nine RBIs and five runs scored during his eight-game hitting streak and belted a two-run homer in a 6-5 setback to the Tigers on May 15. Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera also went deep in that contest and is 12-for-30 with three homers during his seven-game hitting streak. The two-time AL MVP had a pair of blasts in the May series and is batting .382 with 20 homers and 59 RBIs in 55 career encounters versus Baltimore.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Kevin Gausman (7-10, 3.58 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Michael Fulmer (10-6, 2.77)
Gausman extended his scoreless streak to 19 innings on Saturday after working six frames en route to posting his fourth straight win with a 2-0 triumph over the New York Yankees. The 25-year-old was battered in his last encounter with the Tigers, yielding four runs on a team season-high 10 hits in five innings on May 15. Detroit’s Victor Martinez has four hits in his last three games overall, but is 0-for-10 in his career versus Gausman.
Fulmer suffered his third straight loss after allowing three runs over six innings in Saturday’s 5-2 setback at Kansas City. The 23-year-old rookie has yielded 12 runs on 22 hits – including four homers – during his losing skid. Fulmer was fortunate to walk away with a no-decision in his lone encounter with the Orioles, surrendering five runs on as many hits with three walks in 4 1/3 innings.
1. Detroit LF Justin Upton has nine homers and 24 RBIs in his last 16 games.
2. Baltimore SS J.J. Hardy has recorded two RBIs in back-to-back performances after driving in just one in his previous 11 contests.
3. Tigers CF Cameron Maybin is 1-for-13 with six strikeouts in his last three games and 2-for-14 in his career versus the Orioles.
PREDICTION: Tigers 4, Orioles 2