Series Snapshot: Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers @ Boston Red Sox
Regular Season Record: 22-19, 2nd in AL Central (5.0 GB)
Boston Red Sox
Regular Season Record: 21-20, 3rd in AL East (2.5 GB)
After a dramatic win over Baltimore on Tuesday and a rainout Wednesday, the Red Sox welcome the red hot Detroit Tigers to Fenway Park for another mini 2 game series.
Thanks to Zac from Motor City Bengals for his input from all things Tigers.
Tale of the Starter’s Tape:
Wednesday, May 18 – LHP Phil Coke (1-5, 4.54 ERA) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (4-3, 3.94 ERA)
Early concern over Buchholz’s performances is now a distant memory as the fireball throwing righty has been in fine form as of late. His last start was the best of the season for Buchholz when he went seven innings and only gave up two runs against the rival New York Yankees. He struck out a season high seven and now has 13 total K’s in his last two games. His strikeouts in his prior four games didn’t total that amount, so it’s fair to say Buchholz has found his form again.
Lifetime against Detroit: 1-1, 2.84 ERA. He has 17 strikeouts in 25.1 IP.
Thursday, May 19 – RHP Justin Verlander (4-3, 2.91 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (3-1, 1.75 ERA)
This matchup should be a lot of fun to watch. Two highly skilled, ace type pitchers going head to head will provide a lot of strikeouts and ground ball outs and few extra base hits. Beckett is coming off his third win of the season where he again threw six scoreless innings over the Yankees. So far this season his numbers at Fenway are almost unbelievable. He’s 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA at home.
Lifetime against Detroit: 3-1, 2.60 ERA. He has 29 strikeouts in 27.2 IP
Red HOT Sox:
– Adrian Gonzalez –What else can be said about this guy. He’s leading the majors with 37 RBI and is batting .327 on the year with 9 home runs. He’s hit safely in his 9 of his last 10 games and is proving to be the man you want at the plate late in the game, as witnessed on Tuesday against Baltimore when Gonzalez drove in the tying and winning run in the 9th with a long double off the wall.
Cold as Ice:
– Dustin Pedroia – while he’s shown signs of busting out of the worst slump of his career, Pedroia has 0 RBI in his last 10 games and he’s had many runners in scoring position. He hasn’t looked like the Pedroia we’ve become accustomed to see at the plate when he has the chance to drive in a run or two. He did account for the winning run on Tuesday when he scored from first base on the Gonzalez double, so perhaps that will be enough to get the lil’ man going again.
Who’s Hot in Detroit:
– Jhonny Peralta – hit .462 with a double, 4 homers and 7 RBI the last 5 games. Bash his defense and range all you want people, JP is batting .305 this season.
– Justin Verlander – has allowed just two hits and one earned run his last 18 innings. Verlander is a perfect 9-9 in quality starts this season and an American League leading 62 strikeouts this season.
Who’s Not in Detroit:
– Alex Avila – has just one hit in his last 13 at-bats–nothing major but worth noting. Avila has been a pleasant surprise this season batting .268 with 6 homers and 24 RBI!
– Brandon Inge – batting just .167 over his last seven games.Cringe also is batting just .202 with 9 extra-base hits this season.
The Walking Wounded:
– Junichi Tazawa (P) – 60-day DL, torn ulnar collateral ligament – could being rehab assignment in late May. Return in July
– Bobby Jenks (P) – 15-day DL with right biceps strain. He’s scheduled for first catch session on May 16 with a return possible in June.
– Dan Wheeler (P) – 15-day DL with a calf strain. Made a Triple A rehab appearance on May 14 and could return to the big club on May 20.
– Marco Scutaro (SS) – 15-day DL with injury to left side. He underwent MRI on May 8 and may return mid-May.
– John Lackey (P) – 15-day DL with right elbow strain. Return TBD
– Daisuke Matsuzaka (P) – day-to-day with a sprained right elbow. Return stats is day-to-day.
– Carlos Guillen – 15-day DL with left knee soreness. Return TBD
– Magglio Ordonez – 15-day DL with right ankle weakness. Return TBD
– Joel Zumaya – 60-day DL with right elbow inflammation. Underwent surgery on May 10 and likely return is 2012
3 Questions for MotorCity Bengals:
Q: With a nice winning streak snapped in Toronto, what has been the biggest reason for the Tigers recent turn around?
A: The starting pitching has been great, and the turnaround of Brad Penny has been the biggest different. We’ve come to expect Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer to shut down opposing teams but Penny has an ERA under two in his last five starts. It hasn’t hurt that the Tigers finally started getting some offensive production from the top two spots in their order. Austin Jackson is finding some hits and the call up of Scott Sizemore has given them something out of the second base position.
Q: How has Victor Martinez fit in with the Tigers ballclub?
A: He’s been great after a somewhat slow start and a trip to the 15-day DL. A lot of people may look at the Tigers lineup, see Victor Martinez hitting fifth and think that his purpose is to protect Miguel Cabrera is the lineup. I don’t think that is correct as I’ve spent a good portion of the season so far spreading my opinion that Cabby is too good to need protection. That being said, Martinez is the perfect addition because he is a good hitter with some power; the type of hitter the team needed considering Cabrera reaches base at such a high rate.
Q: Who has been the MVP thus far for the Tigers? Who’s been the LVP?
A: It would be easy to argue for Miguel Cabrear or Victor Martinez but I’ll give the early season MVP to Justin Verlander. I believe he has the ability to set the tone for the entire starting rotation and he’s been nothing short of remarkable. As for LVP, it has to be Brandon Inge. Joaquin Benoit has been disappointing as well but Inge is playing every day and hanging around the Mendoza line. He’s always been known as more of a defensive player but even that hasn’t been great.
3 Questions for BoSox Injection:
Q: What’s the deal with Carl Crawford and how has he been treated through his struggles?
A: The month of April didn’t go very well for Crawford and while he won’t admit it, I’m sure he was second guessing his decision to come to Boston. The fans were on him steadily after a disastrous start to the season and it couldn’t have been a comfortable place to play in Crawford’s mind. But when the calendar flipped over to May, Crawford has become a new player. He has two walk off hits that gave the Red Sox two huge wins and with it came renewed hope for Crawford from the faithful fans. While his average is still low for his standards and expectations, he has been getting on base a lot more and is showing signs on a regular basis of the man that Theo Epstein signed for 7 years.
Q: Is there anything to pinpoint as a reason for Josh Beckett once again looking like a stud?
A: The biggest reason for Beckett’s turnaround is his health. Last season he struggled on the mound and he struggled to stay healthy. This year he came into camp feeling 100% and he’s now pitching like the Beckett of old. Throw in the fact that he was bumped to the number four starter at the beginning of the year and there is no doubt just a tad of motivation to prove to everyone, including Terry Francona that he is still the leader of this staff. Beckett is a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve and his ego no doubt took a hit when he was knocked down the rotation. When Beckett is on, he’s a lot of fun to watch and this year is shaping up that way.
Q: With the AL East being such a competitive division, how early to Red Sox fans start scoreboard watching?
A: It’s funny you mentioned that as I did a poll about 3 weeks ago on whether or not Red Sox fans watch the scoreboard this early in the season. The majority are like me and watch it anxiously every night, while others watch it, but not on a nightly basis. While it’s only May the scoreboard does get a lot of attention. It helps make it easier now that the Red Sox are playing better and they’re fortunate that one team didn’t get real hot and run away with the division lead. They’re only 2.5 games out entering Wednesday night but that doesn’t mean we don’t still check to see how the other four AL East clubs are doing. The way the Jays, Rays and Orioles are playing and throw in the Yankees, who everyone knows will be there at the end and it’s a meat grinder of a division. So no, it’s never too early to be scoreboard watching.
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