By Brad Carroll
If there is such a thing as a postseason-like series in August, then this one between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers would be it. Both teams are right behind the second wild card-leading Mariners in the race for the final playoff berth, with the Tigers holding a two game edge on the Yankees.
These three games could go a long way in determining who will take a big step toward the postseason, while the other could watch its season begin to deteriorate. The Yankees have more to lose here, however, as they already trail the Tigers in the wild card standings. They also are on the brink of staying in the AL East race, trailing the Orioles by six games. A series loss, or worse a sweep, would be a killer for the Yankees.
The Yankees do have a ton of momentum heading into this series, winning five straight games, including beating the first-place Royals in a one-game make-up game Monday night.
Here's a closer look at biggest series of the year for the Yankees.
New York Yankees (68-61, 2.5 games back of WC)
at Detroit Tigers (70-59, .5 game back of WC)
Tuesday, 7:08 p.m.
Brandon McCarthy (5-2, 1.90) vs. Rick Porcello (14-8, 3.10)
Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Shane Greene (3-1, 3.17) vs. David Price (12-9, 3.00)
Thursday, 1:08 p.m.
Hiroki Kuroda (9-8, 3.94) vs. TBA
Playoff Picture: First, the Yankees trail the Orioles by six games in the AL East. Both teams won their games Monday, with Baltimore taking the first of a four-game series with the Rays at home. Second, the Yankees trail the Mariners by 2.5 games and the Tigers by two games for the second wild card. The Mariners lost their game Monday to the Rangers, the first of a three-game series at home. If you're wondering, the Yankees trail the wild card leader (whoever loses a tiebreaker between the Angels and A's) by 8.5 games. There's a chance the Yankees could overtake the second wild card lead by Thursday night.
Momentum: The Yankees continued their red-hot stretch with an impressive 8-1 victory over the AL Central-leading Royals Monday night in Kansas City. Overall, the Yankees have won five straight games, including a three-game sweep of the White Sox. Earlier this month, the Yankees took three of four from the Tigers at the Stadium. Detroit lost three straight games before taking the final two games against the Twins before an off day Monday. They are 5-5 over their last 10 games.
Who's Hot: Jacoby Ellsbury is batting .444 with a double, home run, five RBI and four stolen bases the past seven games. He went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, a home run and three RBI against Kansas City Monday. Martin Prado batted .414 over his past seven games, with five doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He went 2-for-4 with a double and home run against the Royals. McCarthy, who starts Tuesday, pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout in his last start. For the Tigers, Porcello threw a complete-game, three-hit shutout against Tampa his last time out. Price has allowed one earned run and four total hits in his last two starts, totalling 16 innings. Eugenio Suarez is batting .526 over his last six games. Victor Martinez is 10-for-28 with two homers and 11 RBI over his last seven games.
Who's Not: Brett Gardner is just 2-for-18 over his last five games. For the Tigers, Rajai Davis is batting .160 over his last six games, while Alex Avila is batting .167 over the same time frame. If the Yankees can get the Tigers starters out of the game, they can get to the bullpen, which a majority of has struggled greatly the past week.
Looking Ahead: The Yankees travel to Toronto for three games against the Blue Jays, a team on the fringe of the wild card race.