Red Sox-Tigers series preview
|06.06.14 at 11:55 am ET|
The Red Sox will look to get back on track after being swept by the Indians as they head to Detroit to take on the Tigers.
The Sox saw their seven-game win streak snapped in the first game of the series, and then dropped a couple of heartbreakers to the Indians. On Tuesday, the Red Sox knotted the game at 3-3 in the seventh inning, only to see that tie slip away in the bottom of the inning. Wednesday’s game was delayed 2 1/2 hours and went 12 innings, with the Indians winning in dramatic fashion while the Red Sox suffered their sixth walkoff loss of the season. The final pitch of the game came at 2:02 a.m.
The Sox got a day to regroup on Thursday, enjoying their first off-day since May 19, and only one of their two this month (the other is on June 26).
The Sox aren’t the only ones in the midst of a skid. The Tigers have dropped five straight (something they didn’t do once in 2013) and have seen their division lead, once at seven games, cut to 2 1/2 with the White Sox gaining ground quickly. The Tigers ran into a red-hot Blue Jays club earlier in the week, getting swept by the AL East-leading Jays. Nothing has been clicking quite right for the Tigers during the slide, and they’ve been outscored 27-10 during the losing streak.
“Big picture, [the Tigers are] still a good baseball team,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told MLB.com. “It’s just not playing good baseball right now. We need to snap out of it.”
The Red Sox saw the Tigers once already this season, and were swept at home as part of their 10-game losing streak last month. Tigers pitching stymied Sox hitters, with the Sox able to push across just three runs over the course of the three-game set.
Here are the pitching matchups for the weekend series.
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
— Though Brock Holt had just one hit in each of the games against the Indians, he was still one of the few offensive bright spots for the Red Sox. The leadoff man’s two-run single knotted the game at 4-4 and (eventually) sent the game into extras. Holt continues to provide a spark for the Red Sox at the top of the order, and is batting .308/.337/.462 since being recalled on May 17.
— Lackey turned in yet another quality start in the first game of the series against Cleveland, going eight innings for the third time this season (it qualifies as his first complete game of the year, since he took the loss and therefore did not pitch the bottom of the ninth), allowing three runs while striking out three. It was far from his most impressive start of the season, but Lackey has been as solid as they come lately, posting a 2.72 ERA over his last six starts.
— Xander Bogaerts isn’t letting his shift to third base affect his performance at the plate. Though he went 0-for-5 in Wednesday’s marathon, Bogaerts continues to hit the ball well. He homered in back-to-back contests in the first two games of the Cleveland series, his fourth and fifth home runs of the season. Since May 17, Bogaerts has compiled a spectacular .378/.446/.649 line in 18 games, clubbing eight doubles and four home runs.
WHO’S HOT: TIGERS
— Like the rest of the offense he’s slumped a bit during the Tigers’ five-game losing streak, but Victor Martinez remains one of the club’s hottest hitters. Despite a couple of hitless games recently, Martinez is batting .364/.417/.500. The designated hitter currently boasts the best average in the American League at .332, while he ranks in the top ten in the AL in both OBP (.390) and slugging percentage (.578)
— While closer Joe Nathan hasn’t worked out quite as anticipated for the Tigers, another member of their bullpen has been unexpectedly dominant lately. Joba Chamberlain hasn’t allowed a run over his last 9 2/3 innings, and is sporting an impressive 1.08 ERA since April 25.
— Rajai Davis has been swinging the bat well as of late, hitting .343 with a home run and three doubles over his last 10 games. Davis has added the element of speed to a lineup that had been sorely lacking it, leading the club with 16 stolen bases in 19 chances. He’s been a solid addition to the Tigers, batting .286/.335/.416 in 44 games.
WHO’S NOT: RED SOX
— Edward Mujica was responsible for the three runs the Indians scored in the 12th inning of Wednesday night’s game, allowing two singles before giving up the game-winning home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. Every time it seems as though Mujica is making progress toward becoming the dominant reliever he was in 2013, that progress is slowed by an ugly outing. Two months and 21 innings into the season, and Mujica still owns an unsightly 7.29 ERA. For more context: Mujica gave up 20 runs in 65 appearances in 2013, and he’s just three runs shy of that mark through 22 games this season.
— Jonny Gomes has won an everyday role in a poorly producing Red Sox outfield, but he hasn’t been contributing much in the way of hits. Gomes is 3-for-his-last-22 and is without an extra-base hit in his last 40 plate appearances. He’s batting just .178 over his last 15 games. Gomes has been finding ways to get on base, though, posting a .321 OBP with eight walks over that same span.
— Grady Sizemore had a rough series against his former team, going 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. Sizemore has been showing occasional signs of heating up at the plate, but he still hasn’t been able to provide the Red Sox with any kind of consistent production. The 31-year-old is batting .221/.289/.337 on the season.
WHO’S NOT: TIGERS
— Torii Hunter is going through a small slump, finishing the series with the Blue Jays without a hit and going 2-for-22 over his last six games. Hunter hasn’t been getting on base a whole lot lately; he hasn’t drawn a walk in 12 games, and is batting just .152 over that span.
— Though Austin Jackson got off to a solid start this season, he’s had a rough time at the plate recently, batting .152 with 12 strikeouts over his last 11 games. Actually, Jackson has been cold since having an eight-game hitting streak snapped in early May; since then, he’s hitting just .152/.207/.253.
— The Tigers are trying to figure out what’s wrong with the once-reliable closer they signed over the winter. Nathan has been awful over the past couple weeks, giving up 10 runs on nine hits and three walks over his last 4 1/3 innings. Since May 21, he’s blown two saves and taken the loss twice. Most recently, Nathan gave up four runs to the Blue Jays in the ninth inning after the Tigers had established a 3-1 lead.
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