The Detroit Tigers have gone 6-2 in their last eight matchups, notching 4.9 RPG over the stretch. Jim Leyland’s club heads north of the border for Friday’s opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, who saw the OVER cash at 2-0-1 in the first three games of their present homestand.
Joe Freda’s 2012 MLB Record: 41-46-2 (-6.13 ROI)
Both squads have slated right-handed starters, with Toronto’s Carlos Villanueva (5-0, 2.86 ERA) opposing Detroit’s Rick Porcello (7-5, 4.40 ERA). Sports books opened the contest as a pick’em, with early MLB betting ‘steam’ shifting Villanueva to be a 120 favorite. Oddsmakers opened the ‘total’ at a flat line, remaining unchanged at most shops after early wagers were mixed.
Villanueva stays hot in Boston
Villanueva picked up a third straight win in Saturday’s 7-3 triumph for Toronto as a 118 road dog against the Boston Red Sox. The 28-year-old allowed all three of Boston’s runs over 6 1/3 innings, giving up a long ball to Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia as part of four hits.
Toronto’s Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion united for five RBIs, with Encarnacion cracking his 26th homer in a 1-for-3 night. Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind had the team’s coldest bat, hitting 0-for-5 en route to leaving five men on base.
The contest’s combined 10 runs ‘pushed’ the closing ‘total,’ bringing the UNDER to 2-1-1 in Villanueva’s four starts. Blue Jays relievers J.A. Happ and Darren Oliver both recorded holds, while Brandon Lyon closed out the affair with a hitless ninth frame.
Porcello goes eight vs ChiSox
Porcello pulled the Tigers to a 5-0 mark in his last five starts with Saturday’s 7-1 win for Detroit as a 109 home dog against the Chicago White Sox. The New Jersey native stood in for eight innings, giving up Chicago’s sole run on five hits.
Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson drove in four runs from the leadoff spot, finishing 2-for-5. Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta and Gerald Laird united to hit 4-for-6, while mate Brennan Boesch poked a three-run homer.
The lopsided affair’s eight runs ducked below the closing ‘total’ of 8 ½, making the UNDER 4-2 in Porcello’s last six outings. Tigers slugger Prince Fielder had a 0-for-4 night batting cleanup, combining with outfielder Ryan Raburn to leave eight men on base.
Back the Tigers in Toronto
Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. (ET). Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar is listed as “questionable” due to a back injury.
I am adding the Tigers and Porcello to my night of MLB picks, looking for Detroit to open the series with a hard-fought victory.
Porcello has given up just one run over his last two road starts (13 IP), while surrendering just three homers in 47 IP away from home all season. The 23-year-old last met the Blue Jays in 2010, holding Jackson and Co. to one run over seven innings in a 10-4 victory for Detroit as a 124 road dog.
Villanueva has been on a fairly stingy run, but could be challenged more by Detroit’s lineup here. The Tigers went 3-1 in their four road dates against Toronto last year, outscoring John Farrell’s club by a combined margin of 28-14.
Detroit has hit a sizable .272 against right-handed pitching away from home, piling in 4.5 R/9I. Jackson comes in off a hot 6-for-13 series in Cleveland, while hitting 2-for-2 lifetime against Villanueva with one double.
The Tigers have cashed at 5-0 in their last five matchups as underdogs, while going 6-2 in their last eight road games against right-handed starters. Look for Porcello to do his part in holding Toronto’s lineup here, while the Tigers drive in enough runs to cash tickets in this opener.