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Fri, Aug 9, 2013 - 7:05 PM ET
 

Tigers-Yankees Preview

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Jim Leyland wasn't alive the last time the Detroit Tigers won 13 games in a row.

The Tigers will have a chance to show Leyland something new when they kick off their series with the scuffling New York Yankees on Friday night in Alex Rodriguez's return to the Bronx.

The Tigers, who have won 12 in a row to go seven games up in the AL Central, haven't won more than 12 consecutive games since 1934, when they won their 14th straight at Yankee Stadium to tie a franchise record. Leyland, 68, was still 10 years away from being born.

Now, the Tigers (68-45) are back at Yankee Stadium, looking to come closer to that elusive mark.

"When we're able to execute as a team, we can do great things," pitcher Max Scherzer said. "That's why we think we're one of the best teams in the American League."

The Yankees (57-56) have been anything but, and getting Rodriguez back for the first time since Detroit swept New York in the 2012 ALCS didn't help much. Rodriguez had a hit apiece in each of his first three games of 2013, playing under the cloud of his 211-game suspension for violations of MLB's drug agreement and labor contract, but the Yankees were swept in Chicago against a White Sox team that came in with a 10-game losing streak.

Rodriguez went 1 for 5 on Wednesday as New York blew leads in the ninth and 12th innings of a 6-5 loss. He was roundly booed in every plate appearance at U.S. Cellular Field, and now awaits what should be an interesting reception at home.

"I am curious what it's going to be like Friday," manager Joe Girardi told the team's official website. "I'm not sure. And I don't really know what the appropriate response is. I don't think it's my right to tell people how to respond to certain situations."

When asked how he'd like the fans in the Bronx to react, Rodriguez gave a diplomatic answer.

"Same way you would like them (to),'' Rodriguez said. "Again, I'm just super excited to come home, put on the pinstripes and play for the greatest fans in baseball.''

He might not like what he sees from Detroit's pitching staff. The Tigers' starters have posted 12 straight quality starts and a 1.48 ERA during the winning streak.

The Tigers have fared particularly well with Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.28 ERA) on the mound, winning his last five starts as he's posted a 1.87 ERA. The right-hander held the White Sox to a solo homer and seven other hits over 7 2-3 innings in Detroit's 3-2 win Sunday.

Porcello hasn't started in the Bronx since August 2010, but he's 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in four starts - including a Game 4 loss in the 2011 AL division series - since. Rodriguez is 2 for 9 lifetime in their matchups.

Detroit has hit double digits four times during its streak after scoring 10 or more four times in its previous 57 games, and it's continued its knack for coming up with hits in key situations. After batting .243 with runners in scoring position in June, the Tigers are hitting .322 in such situations since the beginning of July - the AL's best mark by 49 percentage points.

The Yankees, on the other hand, hit .138 (8 for 58) with runners in scoring position on their just-completed road trip.

Perhaps the four-game sweep in Cleveland also got Prince Fielder going. Fielder had four hits - including three doubles - in the series' final two games after hitting just .162 over the first 10 games of Detroit's win streak.

The man with the most RBIs during the streak, however, almost certainly won't be available for this series. Catcher Alex Avila, who had three homers, three doubles and 12 RBIs in his past 10 games, was set to return to Detroit to be treated for possible concussion-like symptoms after Thursday's win.

Avila took a foul tip from behind the plate and was bleeding from the ear.

That means backup Brayan Pena will likely be Porcello's batterymate Friday, but he and the rest of the Tigers may not be too eager to face Ivan Nova.

Nova (5-4, 3.08) has posted a 1.66 ERA in five starts, all at least seven innings, since rejoining New York's rotation in early July. That carried into Saturday, when he allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings of a 3-0 victory at San Diego.

As poorly as things have been going for the Yankees offensively, he may not be too thrilled to see pinstripes. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 9.87 ERA, including the postseason, in four career starts versus New York.

The Yankees lost two of three in Detroit in early April, but snapped a six-game series skid with a 7-0 win in the finale.

Tagged: Tigers, Yankees, Alex Rodriguez, Rick Porcello, Alex Avila

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