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The Detroit Tigers have a tremendous opportunity to inch closer to their fourth straight American League Central title when they host the struggling Seattle Mariners for four games beginning Monday. Detroit, which clinched a postseason berth with Sunday's 3-2 victory over Kansas City, leads Cleveland by five games in the division. The Tigers finish with Seattle, the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota and Miami - who are a combined 109 games below .500.
While it doesn't look like Miguel Cabrera will win his second straight Triple Crown as his 43 home runs are seven behind Baltimore's Chris Davis, the Tigers' slugger leads the major leagues with a .350 average and 133 RBIs - two ahead of Davis. Seattle lost for the sixth time in seven games Sunday, dropping a 12-2 decision at St. Louis. Detroit's Rick Porcello is coming off his first career complete game and will oppose Joe Saunders, who has allowed 219 hits - second-most in the majors behind Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie (225).
TV: 7:08 p.m. ET, ROOT (Seattle), FSN (Detroit)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners LH Joe Saunders (11-14, 5.18 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Rick Porcello (12-8, 4.56)
Saunders allowed six runs and seven hits in three innings of Seattle's 13-2 loss to Houston on Wednesday and fell to 3-6 with a 7.11 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break. The 32-year-old Springfield, Va., native, who has a 1.63 WHIP and an eye-popping .315 batting average against this season, is 1-2 with a 5.26 ERA in nine career outings against Detroit. The Tigers' roster is hitting .320 in 75 at-bats against Saunders, who hasn't been hurt too bad by Miguel Cabrera (5-for-15, three RBIs).
Since the calendar flipped to July, Porcello is 8-2 with eight quality starts among his 12 outings while lowering his ERA from 5.21. The 24-year-old Morristown, N.J., native was brilliant in his last start, allowing one run and seven hits in a 9-1 victory over the White Sox at Chicago on Wednesday. Porcello is 3-2 with a 3.79 ERA in six outings against Seattle and has fared well against the red-hot Kendrys Morales (3-for-13) and Raul Ibanez (0-for-6).
1. Morales is hitting .348 with five homers and eight RBIs in his last 12 games.
2. Detroit took two of three in Seattle from April 16-18.
3. Mariners rookie SS Brad Miller (hamstring) did not play Sunday after leaving Saturday's contest and is expected to miss a few games, according to manager Eric Wedge. Miller is hitting .260 with six home runs and 31 RBs in 281 at-bats.
PREDICTION: Tigers 6, Mariners 2