American League Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, July 29th (All times eastern)
Detroit Tigers (53-48) at Toronto Blue Jays (51-49), 1:07 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Detroit - Doug Fister (4-7, 4.03) Toronto - Brett Cecil (2-3, 5.82)
(Sports Network) - Just a week ago Detroit completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox at home, but since then the Tigers have been losing ground to the Sox in the standings and find themselves 2 1/2 games out of first place.
Today, they attempt to salvage the final game of a three-game set versus the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Last week at this time Detroit was celebrating a five-game win streak and was eight games over .500, but that seems like a long ago now that the club has bowed in three straight and four of the last five contests to fall off the pace in the American League Central.
Making his first appearance as a member of the Tigers after being traded from Miami, Anibal Sanchez didn't get off to the sort of start he was hoping for on Saturday afternoon, giving up as many home runs (three) as he had strikeouts in the 5-1 road loss.
Sanchez made it through six innings, surrendered five runs on eight hits and three walks as he assumed defeat.
The Tigers offense didn't help much at all as they delivered just five total hits, two by Brennan Boesch who knocked in the only run of the game for the visitors in the fourth inning.
"This game is tough sometimes, you just have to keep battling through," said Boesch. "You would like to be more consistent and maybe make the tough stretches shorter, but we are a good team and will just continue to play hard every day and see what happens."
Colby Rasmus, Edwin Encarnacion and Yunel Escobar all left the yard for the Jays, with Rasmus knocking in three on the day. Brett Lawrie and Yan Gomes both recorded a pair of hits in the victory as well.
Henderson Alvarez gave up just the one run to the Tigers through seven innings of work, allowing a total of five hits and a couple of walks, while striking out four as he moved to an even 7-7 on the campaign.
"I felt great," said Alvarez. "All of my pitches were down in the zone, and every pitch that I threw was working today."
"I was really impressed with him -- he has a real live arm," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said about Alvarez. "Looks like he might be a little erratic at times, but he has a good sinker, good velocity. He was impressive. I liked him a lot, he has good stuff."
With the win on Saturday the Blue Jays have run their current win streak to three in a row and have posted victories in six of the last eight outings, but still the club is a mere two games over .500 on the season and in fourth place in the AL East standings, nine games behind the New York Yankees.
Having won only once since June 18, Brett Cecil tries to get back on track as he takes the mound for the Jays this afternoon. The left-hander, now in his fourth major league campaign, has dropped his last two outings even though he has been rather efficient for the Jays in those contests.
Most recently Cecil was on the hill against Oakland on Tuesday, permitting just two runs on five hits and a couple of walks, while striking out eight over six innings, but still Toronto suffered a 7-2 loss at home to the A's.
Cecil has made just one previous appearance against Detroit in his career, allowing two runs on six hits over seven innings and again failing to earn a favorable decision.
As for the Tigers, they have Doug Fister preparing to take the ball to close out the series today. The right-hander, who has a career mark of 0-2 versus Toronto and is a mere 1-5 on the road in 2012, had a personal three-game win streak snapped on Tuesday when he suffered the loss versus Cleveland.
Against the Tribe, Fister gave up three runs on nine hits and a walk, struck out four through seven innings and actually lowered his season ERA to 4.03 as Detroit absorbed the 3-2 setback.
Toronto, a team which is second in the AL in home runs (145) and third in slugging (.439), has already matched its win total from all of last season against the Tigers when Detroit took four of the six matchups.
07/29 10:21:34 ET