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Dickey stops one from going through his legs

Tuesday will mark a homecoming of sorts for first-year Mets manager Terry Collins.

When the Mets travel to Detroit to kick off a three-game series with the Tigers, it will be the first time Collins -- a Midland, Mich., native -- returns to his home state as a Major League manager since Aug. 13-15, 1999.

Back then, Collins -- who plans to spend the off-day visiting his father, Bud, in Midland -- was the manager of the Angels, and took two of three from the Tigers a mere two hours away from his hometown. More than a decade later, Collins returns to Detroit to square off against the Tigers and manager Jim Leyland, who Collins coached under for many years in Pittsburgh.

"I'll have a lot of fun for the next three days," Collins said. "Before the games start, on the field, I'm sure [Leyland] will have a thousand stories. He'll tease me about how we should be in first place, like he does every year. His team is close to first, so we've got a challenge on our hands, that's for sure."

R.A. Dickey will try to make Collins' return a successful one, and the right-hander has a good track record for being able to do so.

Dickey has a 1.23 ERA in four career appearances at Comerica Park, including a shutout in his only start there, Aug. 20, 2003, as a member of the Rangers. In fact, Dickey also earned a save in that series, closing out a 4-2, 16-inning win on Aug. 18.

But Dickey will have his work cut out for him this time. Detroit has won 30 of its last 49 games dating back to May 3, and has the second-best record in the American League during that span, trailing only the Red Sox.

Standing in the way of a welcome homecoming for Collins will be right-hander Rick Porcello, a Morristown, N.J., native who grew up a Mets fan, although his father took him to a lot of Yankees games growing up.

But there will be no rekindled love between Porcello and the Mets, as the righty faces his childhood team for the first time in his young career and tries to end a three-game winless streak during which opposing batters are hitting .365 against him.

Taking the no-decision in his last start, the Tigers' right-hander gave up five runs on nine hits in just 4 2/3 innings against the Dodgers. Porcello (6-5, 4.50 ERA) struck out two and walked one.

Mets: Pelfrey adds cutter
• Mike Pelfrey picked up on a trend that has spread throughout the league.

The Mets' right-hander recently added a cut fastball to his arsenal after noticing how effective opposing pitchers have been with it. After working with pitching coach Dan Warthen, Pelfrey introduced his cutter to hitters earlier this month, modeling the pitch after that of teammate Jason Isringhausen.

The cut fastball is now the sixth pitch in Pelfrey's arsenal and provides a complement to his two-seam fastball, which moves in the opposite direction of the cutter, when correctly thrown.

"It's another weapon," Pelfrey said. "I'll put it in their heads, hopefully get some outs with it, and it will be good."

• Dickey was impressive when he faced the A's in his previous appearance, striking out nine while surrendering no walks and allowing just one run over eight innings. Over his past seven starts, the knuckleballer has a 2.23 ERA.

Tigers: Thomas has encouraging rehab outing
• Detroit reliever Brad Thomas struck out the side in order on Monday in his lone inning of work for Triple-A Toledo.

While it is uncertain how long his Minor League rehab assignment will be, Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin told the Toledo Blade that Thomas will pitch an inning Tuesday on the road against Columbus, and then be re-evaluated.

Thomas, who went on the disabled list more than a month ago with inflammation in his left elbow, has been on rehab since June 14.

Worth noting

• The Mets are 124-117 all time in Interleague Play. The Tigers are 139-120.

• Prior to Tuesday's game, Justin Verlander and Alex Avila will be presented with commemorative awards from the Tigers in recognition of their efforts in Verlander's no-hitter against Toronto on May 7 at Rogers Centre.

• Tigers catcher Victor Martinez is hitting .391 with nine doubles, two home runs and 21 RBIs over his past 29 games, dating back to May 27.

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