Tigers look to keep streak alive as Cards visit


Winners of their last three series, the Detroit Tigers will look to keep their streak going when they host the St. Louis Cardinals for three games, beginning on Monday night.

Detroit has taken two out of three from Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Kansas City during that stretch. The Tigers got a key hit from rookie Wenceel Perez in their 4-1 win over the Royals on Sunday. Perez hit his first career home run, a two-run shot, in the first inning.

Perez has given the Tigers a spark since he was elevated from Triple-A Toledo in early April.

“He’s fearless, he’s joyful,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He believes in himself. He’s just having fun and he’s unafraid to make a mistake.”

The Cardinals had a three-game winning streak come to an end with Sunday’s 4-2 road loss to the New York Mets in 11 innings. Reliever Matt Liberatore gave up a walk-off two-run home run to Mark Vientos.

Left-hander Steven Matz (1-2, 5.55 ERA) will start the series opener for St. Louis. Opposing him will be right-hander Kenta Maeda (0-1, 5.96).

Matz has been roughed up in his last two outings.

He gave up five runs in five innings to Oakland on April 17, then surrendered seven runs in 4 1/3 innings to Arizona on Tuesday.

The Diamondbacks scored four runs in the third, capped by Christian Walker’s three-run homer.

“I really made one bad pitch that inning and that was frustrating for me because I felt like I was in control there,” Matz said. “And then I go out there in the fifth inning and kind of fizzle out a little bit. I threw a lot of pitches in those innings. I do feel like I was in a good spot (Tuesday) and it’s just frustrating with the outcome.”

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol thought Matz’s stat line didn’t tell the whole story.

“I actually thought it was one of his better outings, to be quite honest with you,” he said. “The line doesn’t show that, but from a pitch standpoint, the (velocity) was there.”

Maeda is still looking for his first win in a Detroit uniform. Signed as a free agent during the offseason, Maeda has struggled, though his last outing was his best — five scoreless innings against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

“I discussed my mechanics with (pitching coach Chris) Fetter (last) week and cleaned up my mechanics,” Maeda said. “That resulted in my fastballs having better command and velo. I hope I can build off that for next time.”

The Rays’ first two batters reached on errors but Maeda wasn’t flustered.

“With the way that game had started, it could’ve gotten away from him,” Hinch said. “But no panic, no stress. Just continue to make pitches and trusting the defense was going to make the plays if he kept the ball in play.”

Matz has a 1.56 ERA in three career starts against the Tigers but no decisions. Maeda is 2-1 with a 5.11 ERA in seven career outings against the Cardinals, including four starts.

—Field Level Media



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