Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon didn't sound ecstatic about the thought of returning to Detroit as a visiting manager after spending 2006-13 in the Motor City coaching under former Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
But McClendon will get that chance when the Mariners and Tigers open a three-game set Friday at Comerica Park in a series pitting two teams vying for playoff positions.
"I'll be glad when it's over. Just like when they were here. A lot of ways it's good, and other ways it's a pain in the butt," McClendon said Wednesday. "I'm going to be happy to see a lot of people, but I'll be glad to be leaving town."
McClendon, who was Detroit's bullpen coach in 2006 and its hitting coach from '07-13, will at least have the benefit of sending left-hander James Paxton to the mound for the fifth time this season. Paxton has not lost a Major League game in his short career. He's pitched in eight games over the last two years and is 5-0 in his career. In games he starts, the Mariners are 6-2.
However, the most recent of those losses came in Paxton's last start -- a 2-1 defeat to the White Sox on Aug. 9. Paxton pitched well, going 6 1/3 innings while giving up one run on six hits, but the offense couldn't pick it up behind him.
Although he hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues for long, Paxton has already demonstrated a good command for the strike zone, averaging 3.58 strikeouts for every walk he allows. The superb pitching comes as a relief for Paxton, who has missed much of the last four months with a left lat strain and left-shoulder inflammation.
His opponent on Friday, Rick Porcello, has also been pitching well consistently.
Porcello hasn't given up more than three runs in his last six appearances -- including a two-inning relief outing in the Tigers' 19-inning loss to the Blue Jays on Aug. 10.
Mariners: Jackson unsure how he'll be welcomed
Sitting inside the Seattle media room Tuesday, Austin Jackson took the understated route when asked his feelings about returning to Detroit as a visiting player for the Mariners' three-game weekend series against the Tigers.
Jackson wasn't willing to provide his former teammates with bulletin board material. The Denton, Texas, native described his first trip back as "business as usual," but he admitted it would include mixed emotions.
"Obviously, you want to play well against every team -- especially with the team you were once with," Jackson said. "It's just competitive nature."
Jackson's tenure with the Tigers extended back to December 2009, when the Yankees sent him to Detroit in a three-team trade that brought Curtis Granderson to New York. The next season, Jackson finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting, hitting .293 with 34 doubles, 27 stolen bases and 103 runs scored. Jackson isn't sure how Tigers fans will greet him in his return.
"I guess it depends on how we do against them," Jackson said.
Tigers: Booing gets clubhouse's attention
Two veteran Tigers spent Wednesday taking note of fan reaction. It was fitting that they came from opposite ends of the clubhouse.
Victor Martinez seemingly wasn't aware of Joe Nathan's gesture to fans at the end of Wednesday's 8-4 win, but he was certainly aware of the boos Nathan and other teammates were receiving. And as the Tigers celebrated the end of their four-game losing streak, Martinez was making a reasoned plea to reporters for fan support.
"We're trying," Martinez said. "It's too long of a season. At some point, you're going to struggle. Every team struggles. As a fan, if you're just going to be with us when we're doing good, we really need the fans when we struggle, too."
The Tigers are a half-game behind the Royals in the American League Central, after leading the division for much of the season. Even before the recent skid, however, Martinez noted he was hearing criticism.
"We [were winning] the division by three-to-four games and I hear people complaining," Martinez said. "I heard some negative comments.
"We're the ones here. If somebody has to be panicked, it's us here. We're the ones playing. We're fine. We believe in what we got. We're not going to keep playing like this for too long. We've got too good of a team. Like I say, every team struggles at some point. Look at it during the season, every team struggles. We wish that we could go 162-0."
• Recently signed reliever Jim Johnson has opted to extend his Minor League stint at Triple-A Toledo before joining the Tigers.
• Robinson Cano, a career .311 hitter, has only a .265 average in 63 games against the Tigers. His .732 OPS against them is the lowest mark he has against teams he has played more than 50 games.
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.