NEW YORK YANKEES (68-62)
at DETROIT TIGERS (71-59)
First pitch: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Detroit -180, New York +170, Total: 7.5
The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers meet on Wednesday off as they both look to gain ground in a tight American League playoff race.
The Yankees have been a streaky team all year long and typically follow their winning streaks with a group of losses. Going into this series, New York was victorious in seven of nine games, including five in a row, but took a 5-2 loss on Tuesday to open this three-game set. The defeat dropped them to 7 games behind Baltimore in the AL East and 3.5 games behind Seattle for the second Wild Card spot. They managed to get only three players in scoring position all game, while OF Jacoby Ellsbury (.284) provided all of the offense with two solo home runs. The speedy outfielder has been on fire of late, going 16-for-36 (.444) with three homers, 8 RBI, six runs and four stolen bases over his past nine contests. Detroit sits a mere half-game out of the second Wild Card spot while trailing the Royals by 1.5 games in the AL Central division. After allowing 32 runs in two games against Minnesota in their last series against the Twins, the Tigers turned it around and have won their past three games with their own great offense (8.7 runs per game). The star in the Tuesday's 5-2 victory was J.D. Martinez (.312 BA) as he went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs. He has been tearing the cover off the ball in his past 10 games with 16 hits in 43 at-bats (.372), five doubles, a homer, 5 RBI and six runs. One of the Yanks most surprising players will get the start on Wednesday when RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 3.17 ERA) toes the rubber and goes against former Cy Young Award winner, LHP David Price (12-9, 3.00 ERA). New York has played better on the road this season at 35-31 (.530), while the Tigers are a pedestrian 34-29 (.540) at Comerica Park. These two clubs have matched up well over the past three seasons with Detroit holding a slight 13-12 edge over the Bombers overall and are 8-5 when playing at home in that time. The Tigers have actually not played too well as a favorite this year, and are below .500 (27-29) in games with a money line of -125 to -175. But New York is a subpar 40-45 (.471) in night games on the season. In injury news, the Yankees have been without OF Brett Gardner (ankle) for three games and he is day-to-day, while Detroit has no new significant injuries to its offense.
Shane Greene has been a great surprise for the Yankees as he is actually putting up better numbers in the majors than he ever did at any level in their minor-league system. In his 48.1 frames, Greene has whiffed 8.6 batters per nine innings while keeping his control in check (3.0 BB/9) and has allowed four homers in that time (0.74 HR/9). He has given up three or fewer runs seven times in his eight starts, leading his team to an impressive 6-2 record when he takes the mound. One of his best outings actually came against Detroit on Aug. 7, as he went eight scoreless innings while giving up five hits and three walks while striking out five. The one player on the Tigers who seemed locked in against the youngster was 2B Ian Kinsler, as he went 2-for-4 in the matchup while OFs J.D. Martinez and Rajai Davis combined to go hitless in six at-bats. Superstar 1B Miguel Cabrera did not play in the game when Greene pitched against his club. New York’s bullpen is 20-23 (.465) this year with a 3.85 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, and has converted 42-of-59 save chances (71%). David Robertson (3.06 ERA, 34 saves) has blown three saves on the season while posting an impressive 13.7 K/9.
There is no debating whether or not David Price is an elite starting pitcher in the big leagues, as he has posted better than a 3.50 ERA each year since 2010. This season he has been more of a swing-and-miss pitcher than ever before with 9.9 K/9 while leading the AL in strikeouts (221) and ranking fourth in WHIP (1.00). He’s had four starts since being traded to the Tigers, and in that time has gone 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 0.75 WHIP, while mowing down 32 batters in 30.2 innings of work (9.4 K/9). Amazingly, Price has walked a miniscule 1.8 batters per nine innings, but the one knock on him is that he allows too many homers (1.03 HR/9). Of course the lefty has tons of experience against his former division foe, and is 10-5 (16-8 team record) with a 3.70 ERA and 1.24 WHIP versus New York. He has already faced them four times this season and is 1-1 while striking out 33 batters in 27.2 innings pitched. A few Yankee players have fared very well against the fire-baller in their careers, including SS Derek Jeter (.302 BA, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 8 walks in 63 AB), OF Jacoby Ellsbury (.298 BA, 7 extra-base hits, 3 RBI in 47 AB) and C Brian McCann (5-for-12, 3 HR, 5 RBI). On the other hand, the trio of OF Carlos Beltran, OF Brett Gardner and 2B Stephen Drew has combined to go a woeful 4-for-43 (.093) with 14 strikeouts in the head-to-head matchup. The Tigers’ bullpen has struggled this year, going 15-16 with a bloated 4.53 ERA and 1.53 WHIP, while saving only 33-of-46 (72%) games. Closer Joe Nathan (5.25 ERA, 28 saves) is 28-for-34 (82%) in his save opportunities and has struggled mightily with his control (4.7 BB/9), but has still recorded better than one strikeout per inning (9.2 K/9) this year.