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DET@OAK: Porcello gets double play with bases loaded

In the second game of a matchup between American League division leaders, the Tigers will try to rebound on Wednesday at Comerica Park after falling to the Blue Jays, 5-3, in the series opener.

Detroit (31-23) has cooled off somewhat of late -- in their last three series, the Tigers dropped three of four games to the Rangers, two of four to the A's and two of three to the Mariners. But they still lead the second-place White Sox by 4 1/2 games in the AL Central.

"They still have the top rotation, arguably the top rotation, in baseball," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They're good, you never want to face them. They've logged some innings the last few years -- you get into the postseason, they go deep every year. There's some workhorses over there. They're good, they give you a chance to win every night."

The Blue Jays (35-24), who had been one of the hottest teams in baseball for most of May, also cooled off slightly in their last series, dropping the first two games to the Royals before winning the last two. But they exploded for a five-run ninth inning to take the first game of the series against the Tigers on Tuesday.

In Wednesday's matchup, Rick Porcello, who is 8-2 this season with a 3.68 ERA, will start for the Tigers. Porcello has received a decision in all 10 of his starts this year, and he was 5-1 in May.

That includes a win in his last start against the A's -- the third division leader in the AL -- in which he held Oakland to two runs over 5 2/3 innings despite walking a career-high six. Those walks accounted for more than a third of his season total -- he's walked 15 in 62 2/3 innings.

Facing Porcello will be R.A. Dickey, the 39-year-old knuckleballer who is 5-4 with a 4.30 ERA.

"You don't really prepare for a knuckleballer," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "There's no predicting its movement, so there's nothing you can do about it. You really just try to get the barrel to the ball as quickly as you can, because by the time you swing, it might not be there anymore."

The Tigers saw Dickey on July 1 in Toronto last year and lost, held to two runs on six hits over his seven innings, with a walk and four strikeouts.

Tigers: A knuckleballer of their own
Tigers shortstop Danny Worth made headlines in the series against the Rangers by pitching an inning while throwing knuckleballs during a blowout -- and striking out two batters.

He also pitched another inning during the series, also in a blowout, but didn't fare as well, allowing a run on three hits -- and throwing one knuckleball behind the back of Texas batter Donnie Murphy.

After his pitching appearances, Worth watched the "Knuckleball!" documentary to try to get more tips on throwing the pitch. He'll get an up-close look at the knuckleball Dickey throws when the Toronto veteran takes the mound Wednesday night. Dickey throws his knuckleball at various speeds, which Worth found fascinating.

Blue Jays: Encarnacion named AL Player of the Month
After a truly powerful performance in May, Edwin Encarnacion was named the AL Player of the Month.

Encarnacion led the league in home runs (16), slugging percentage (.763) and extra-base hits (22). He was also tied for the lead in runs (26) while ranking second in RBIs (33). It's the first career monthly award for Encarnacion, and the first for a Toronto player since Jose Bautista in June 2012.

Worth noting
• The Tigers will pick 23rd overall in the First-Year Player Draft, which begins on Thursday. Their next pick is in the second round, 63rd overall.

• The Blue Jays have two first-round picks on Thursday -- No. 9 and No. 11. Their next pick is 49th overall in Round 2.

• Daniel Norris, Toronto's No. 4 prospect, was named the MLB Pipeline Pitching Prospect of the Month for May, after going 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA in five starts for Class A Advanced Dunedin. Comments