The Astros head to Detroit having lost four of their last five games. Meanwhile, the Tigers have won five straight. It’s a David versus Goliath matchup between two teams at opposite ends of the American League food chain.
In what could be considered a reunion of sorts, Tigers’ skipper Brad Ausmus will be managing against his former team for the first time. His third base coach, Dave Clark, spent the previous nine seasons coaching in the Astros organization.
The newest member of the Astros, Darin Downs, spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons in the Detroit organization. But the most interesting reunion with former teammates could be that of our old friend J.D. Martinez.
Shortly after the Astros cut ties with J.D. this spring, he landed a minor league deal with the Tigers. After blasting 10 homers and driving in 22 runs in just 17 games with AAA Toledo, Martinez was called up to join Ausmus and Clark in Detroit. In his two weeks with the big league club Martinez has appeared in seven games, including four starting assignments in leftfield.
Martinez seems to have rediscovered himself in Detroit. J.D. told MLB.com’s Jason Beck that playing for a winning team has helped him to relax and have fun.
It’s a lot different feeling. When you’re winning, everything’s fun. When you’re losing, everyone’s pressing. It’s hard to play that way. You have to play the game relaxed, and on this team you have that. Everyone knows their job, what they’re going to do. It’s just fun.
You want to win and you’re scared that if you don’t get a base hit, you’re not going to win. Here, I want to get [runs] in obviously, but you’re not as nervous. There’s so many good players that you know that if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. There’s so many good players here that people can pick you up, pick up your slack.
Martinez should be pretty relaxed when reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer takes the mound Monday night against Jarred Cosart and the Astros. No one on the Astros current roster has more than ten career at-bats against Scherzer, but a couple of guys have had some success. Dexter Fowler is 3 for 10 with 3 RBIs and Carlos Corporan has hit two homeruns in only five at-bats against Max. Cosart has never faced the Tigers.
Brett Oberholtzer, still looking for his first win of the season, gets the start for the Astros in game two. Brett will be opposed by fellow lefty Robbie Ray. Filling in for the injured Anibal Sanchez, the 22-year old Ray will be making his big league debut. This could turn into a rough day for the Astros. We all know how they tend to struggle against pitchers they have never faced before. Throw in the extra adrenaline surge that comes with a big league debut and the smart money will be on the Tigers tomorrow.
Game 3 of the series pits Brad Peacock against Rick Porcello. Peacock will be trying to hang on to his rotation spot, given the inevitable return of Scott Feldman. Porcello has won three straight and has issued only four walks in 32 innings this season.