Rick Porcello takes the hill for the Tigers, and despite inconsistencies this season, he hopes to pitch well enough to win the pivotal middle game in the three-game series, especially with Justin Verlander set to pitch Sunday's series finale.
The 23-year-old Porcello is 3-4 with a 5.21 ERA. He has had trouble with keeping his breaking pitches down, which has led to more hits and less ground balls, which a sinkerball pitcher like Porcello needs in order to be successful.
Porcello didn't earn a win in his last outing against the Twins on Sunday, but he fought through some command issues and gave his team a chance. He threw six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits while walking three and striking out two.
"Anybody could see I wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be again, but I was able to scratch through six innings, limiting them to three runs," Porcello said after the game. "I have to look at that in a positive manner."
Porcello is 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA against the Yankees in four career starts. Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees starter for Saturday's game, doesn't have as much experience against the Tigers.
Kuroda, who tossed eight shutout innings to beat the A's his last time out, has made one start in his career versus Detroit, and allowed three runs on six hits in six innings. He's never pitched in Comerica Park, but manager Joe Girardi had some advice for him: be careful of Miguel Cabrera, who has hit .367 in his career against New York.
"He's a great hitter, and he's a force," Girardi said. "And the guy behind him [Prince Fielder] is no bowl of cherries either. You just have to be careful, and you have to pick your spots when you try to do certain things on [Cabrera]."
Yankees: Granderson hits first homer in Detroit since trade
Curtis Granderson hit his first home run in Comerica Park since being traded to the Yankees after the 2009 season. It was a grand slam off rookie left-hander Casey Crosby in the second inning that proved to be the biggest hit of Friday's game.
Girardi said outfielder Brett Gardner, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow injury, has been doing well in his rehab and is progressing. On Friday, he took some batting practice in the cages, and the Yankees are eyeing a return in a week or so.
"Gardy did well in his stuff today," Girardi said. "Eventually we'll get him on the field, we'll get him hitting pretty soon, then we'll get him in some games."
Kuroda is 1-4 on the road this season with a 4.55 ERA.
Tigers: Cabrera crushes Yankees pitching
Cabrera owns a career .367 batting average against the Yankees, with eight doubles, a triple, 11 home runs and 31 RBIs. He has faced Kuroda three times, and is 1-for-3 with a home run.
After going 1-for-3 in Friday's game, Fielder is now batting .423 with eight doubles, a triple, three home runs and 18 RBIs in his past 18 games.
Gerald Laird exited Friday's game with right hamstring tightness when he slid headfirst into first base. The catcher doesn't believe a DL stint will be necessary and hopes to be back by Tuesday at the latest.
With Friday night's loss, the Tigers are 9-10 against the Yankees over the past three seasons.