#979 Detroit Tigersvs.#980 Atlanta Braves
Written by Chris Kubala
MLB: Saturday, October 1, 2016, Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia, 7:10 pm ET
Lines: Detroit -160, Atlanta +145; Over/Under: 9
The Detroit Tigers look to keep their playoff hopes alive as they play the second to last game of the year against the Atlanta Braves Saturday night. Detroit took two of three from Cleveland after winning the last game of the series 6-3 Wednesday night. Atlanta swept the Phillies after a 5-2 victory Thursday. The pitching matchup for Friday’s opener saw Detroit send Daniel Norris to the mound. He faced off with Atlanta’s Matt Wisler.
Detroit entered Friday’s game 1.5 games behind Toronto and Baltimore for the last AL wild card slot. The Tigers have a game against the Indians from earlier in the week that was washed out. It only will be played if it matters to playoff implications. Detroit won Wednesday’s game that was shortened to five innings by rain. Jose Iglesias (run, RBI) and Miguel Cabrera (run, three RBI) each had two hits for Detroit. Ian Kinsler (his 27th) and Cabrera (his 36th) went deep in the game. Michael Fulmer took a no-decision on the mound. He went 3.1 innings, allowing three runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Blaine Hardy (1-0) threw 1.2 scoreless innings for the win.
After starting the year hot, Jordan Zimmermann looks to return to form with his 19th appearance, 18th start, for the Tigers. He is 9-6 with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.362 WHIP over 101.1 innings. Zimmermann is winless in his last six appearances and hasn’t won since June 14. After finishing April 5-0 with a 0.55 ERA, he is 4-6 with a 6.98 ERA. Zimmermann took a no-decision in his last appearance, which was a relief outing against the Royals Sunday. He threw three innings, allowing a run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Detroit lost the game 12-9. He makes his 17th career start against the Braves. Zimmermann is 7-3 with a 2.55 ERA and a 1.111 WHIP over 99 innings. He is 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA and a 0.886 WHIP over 35 innings in five starts at Turner Field.
Atlanta’s sweep of the Phillies gave them nine wins in their last 10 games. The Braves are one game above .500 since the All Star break and 16-9 in September entering Friday’s last game of the month. Atlanta broke a 1-1 tie with a four run eighth inning. No Braves player had more than one hit. Rio Ruiz drove in two runs while Matt Kemp, Jace Peterson and Dansby Swanson each had one RBI. Josh Collmenter recorded a no-decision despite a quality start. He threw seven innings, allowing one run on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Mauricio Cabrera (5-1) picked up the win by getting the last out of the eighth.
Aaron Blair gets the ball for his 15th start of his rookie season. He is 1-7 with an 8.02 ERA and a 1.734 WHIP over 64 innings. Part of the WHIP problem is control related: he’s issued 33 walks while striking out 36. Blair took the loss in his last start, which came against the Marlins last Saturday. He allowed five runs on six hits with three walks and no strikeouts over 3.1 innings. Atlanta lost the game 6-4. This marks his first career start against the Tigers. Blair makes his eighth career start at Turner Field. He is 0-4 with an 8.18 ERA and a 1.788 WHIP over 33 innings.
Atlanta is one of the hottest teams in the league as the season wound down its last couple of weeks. The fact remains that the Braves have little to play for. Sure, they could climb as high as 12th in the NL after being squarely in the basement the last five months or so but that’s small potatoes. The Tigers need wins to stay in the hunt with time winding down. Zimmermann has to prove he can pitch as well as he did in April. Blair struggles again at Turner Field as the Tigers get a crucial win.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.