The Braves look to remain red-hot and complete the interleague sweep, but the road underdog has an ace up its sleeve.
Detroit Tigers at Atlanta Braves
Detroit was in control of Saturday’s contest against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, but one pitch in the seventh inning changed that in a hurry. Relief pitcher Joel Zumaya gave up two walks in the inning before Braves 3B Chipper Jones sent a fastball into the right-center field bleachers to give the home team a 4-3 victory. The Tigers are now 10-7 in interleague play (+280) and 1-4 on its current road trip that has sent them to New York (1-2) and Atlanta (0-2). First baseman Miguel Cabrera was the lone bright spot in the defeat, hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning to tie Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the MLB-lead (20). He came into the game hitting .356 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI on the road this season.
Tigers SP Justin Verlander is 8-5 with a 3.94 ERA in 15 starts this season and allowing opposing hitters to bat just .219 against him. The right-hander had his three-game winning streak broken in his last outing, allowing five runs and five hits over just two innings of work, making it the shortest appearance of the year. Verlander has a winning 4-3 mark on the road this season, but carries an inflated 5.03 ERA (2.83 Home) in eight starts. He has been quite dominant during his career during the day, boasting a 28-12 record and 3.37 ERA in 51 career starts under the sun. The Tigers ace has continued that success with a 3-1 record and 4.03 ERA in six day outings in 2010.
Atlanta continues to pile up wins at a rapid pace and gave Saturday’s starting pitcher Kenshin Kawakami (1-9) his first victory of the season. “He deserves it,” Jones said. “He’s certainly pitched better than his record indicates.” The Braves are now a dominating 26-7 at home on the year (+1,620) and have won seven straight home games overall. The Braves pitching staff has been doing its part for most of the season, ranking seven in the majors with a 3.74 ERA and sixth in opponents’ batting average (.247). If there’s any chance of cooling off the Braves at this moment, it might come during this afternoon’s game, as the team is just 6-5 (+80) on Sunday’s this season.
Braves SP Tommy Hanson is a solid 7-4 with a 4.17 ERA in 15 starts this season, after enjoying a rookie campaign that saw him tally an 11-4 mark and 2.89 ERA in 21 outings. The second-year starter is coming off an atrocious appearance, allowing nine runs and 13 hits in 3.2 innings of work in a 9-6 road loss to the Chicago White Sox. “It was actually kind of embarrassing,” Hanson said. “I just wasn’t every good.” He hasn’t been very effective during the day in 2010 despite carrying a 1-0 record, allowing 11 runs and 15 hits in 13.2 innings. Hanson is 3-2 with a 4.46 ERA in seven home starts this year, which is a bit disappointing compared to his rookie numbers of 7-2 and 3.13 ERA at Turner Field.
Bettors can make a strong case in backing the road underdog in this contest, when finding the Tigers 17-4 in Verlander’s last 21 Sunday starts. This fits nicely of course with his daytime numbers and the team being 20-7 in his last 27 starts following a loss. Fading the Braves as a home favorite of -125 to -150 is going to be a tough pill to swallow, as they are 8-2 on the season in this situation (+500).