The Detroit Tigers have wrapped up their third consecutive American League Central crown but have one other goal in sight as they open a three-game series against the host Miami Marlins on Friday.
Detroit is one game behind the Oakland Athletics entering the weekend in the battle to earn home-field advantage in the AL Divisional Series round. Miami is playing out the string after reaching 100 losses for the second time in franchise history.
The teams are playing for the first time since 2004 and it rates as a big deal to Miami manager Mike Redmond, who reached the majors in 1998 when current Detroit manager Jim Leyland managed the Marlins.
“I was a guy who wasn’t expected to get to the big leagues,” Redmond said. “He showed a lot of faith in me and played me, when people said, ‘You don’t have to play this guy. You can just sit him on the bench.'"
Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta returns for the opener after serving a 50-game suspension related to use of performance-enhancing drugs.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN (Detroit), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Rick Porcello (13-8, 4.38 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Tom Koehler (4-10, 4.45)
Porcello has won four of his last five decisions and a victory will match his career high, which he set twice. He is 9-2 with a 3.57 ERA over the past three months after entering July with a 5.21 ERA. Porcello has 19 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings over his last two starts.
Koehler defeated the Washington Nationals in his last outing to snap a four-game losing skid. He allowed two runs and three hits in six innings as a strong follow-up to a no-decision against the New York Mets in which he gave up three hits in eight shutout innings. Koehler is 1-5 with a 4.77 ERA in 11 home appearances (nine starts).
1. Leyland won his 700th game as manager of the Tigers on Wednesday. He resides third in franchise history behind Sparky Anderson (1,331) and Hughie Jennings (1,131).
2. Miami OF Juan Pierre is 7-for-18 with three doubles and a homer against Porcello.
3. Tigers MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera (groin) figures to get rest in the series with the playoffs looming.