Dodgers Open Interleague Play with Tigers

Miguel Cabrera is the spitting image of Manny Ramirez as a hitter

The Dodgers open interleague play this season by hosting the Tigers starting tonight at Dodger Stadium.  Detroit has won 13 of their last 20 games to catch the Twins in the AL Central.  The Dodgers are 58-45 in interleague play all-time at Dodger Stadium, including winning two of three against Detroit in 2005.  The last time they played the Tigers was 2008 in Detroit, when the Tigers swept the post-Furcal-injury and pre-Manny Dodgers.

Chad Billingsley is 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA in his last five starts, with 12 walks and 25 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings, and is coming off his best start of the season, pitching 7 1/3 scoreless innings in San Diego on Sunday.  Billingsley has the dual tasks tonight of facing a tougher offense than that of the Padres, and not taxing himself to the point that manager Joe Torre would consider pushing everyone back a day next week rather than utilize the off day Monday to skip the uninspiring fifth starter spot.

Since getting traded to the Tigers and subsequently signing a three-year, $29 million extension in December 2007, Dontrelle Willis has struggled mightily.  In three seasons in Detroit, Willis has walked 85 batters in 90 1/3 innings.  He spent parts of the last two seasons in the minors trying to regain his stellar form, and appeared to turn things around this season, even though his peripheral numbers aren't so good (22 walks and 26 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings).  Of the 141 pitchers in major league baseball who have thrown at least 30 innings this season, none have thrown strikes less often than Willis.

Right-Handed Mashers

This matchup features two of the best right-handed hitters you will ever see, in Miguel Cabrera and Manny Ramirez.  Cabrera is enjoying a fine season, hitting .340/.428/.603 with nine home runs and 38 runs batted in.  His 175 OPS+ is reminiscent of Manny's 173 OPS+ in his age 27 season, in 1999.  Both Cabrera (159, 151, 150, 142) and Ramirez (147, 146, 146, 142) had four seasons with a 140 OPS+ before their breakout age 27 season, and are quite similar:

Great Right-Handed Bats Through Age 27
Player Years G 2B HR Runs RBI BA/OBP/SLG OPS OPS+
Ramirez     1993-1999 849 203 198 573 682 .307/.399/.576 .975 147
Cabrera 2003-2010 1081 267 218 658 791 .312/.385/.544 .929 142

Since 1901, only 29 right-handed batters have had an adjusted OPS (OPS+) of 140 or higher through their age 27 season (minimum 2,000 plate appearances).

Outfield Success

Both teams have had very productive outfields so far this season:

Outfield Production (with MLB Rank)
Tigers Category Dodgers
163 1st Hits 152 3rd
81 4th Runs 88 1st
65 13th RBI 90 1st
54 7th Walks 53 8th
.325 1st BA .308 3rd
.393 1st OBP .373 3rd
.468 7th SLG .520 2nd
.861 3rd OPS .894 2nd
125 3rd sOPS+ 132 2nd

Rookies Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch have combined with Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez to create quite a four-man combination in the outfield and designated hitter.

Lineups

Manny is back in the lineup tonight, and Russell Martin gets the night off after 21 straight starts at catcher.  The Dodgers have nine right-handed batters in the lineup tonight for just the second time in the last decade.  Since the beginning of 2000, the only other time the Dodgers featured a lineup with nine righties was August 8, 2008.

Tigers      Dodgers
CF Jackson
SS
Carroll
SS Santiago    
1B Belliard
RF Ordoñez       
LF Manny
1B Cabrera CF Kemp
LF Boesch 3B Blake            
3B Inge       
RF Johnson
C
Avila 2B Green
2B Worth C Ellis
P Willis P Billingsley    

Game Time: 7:10pm

TV:  KCAL

Baseball Reference Preview | Box Score | Gameday

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