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The schedule-makers have done the Red Sox no favors right now. After visiting Tampa Bay and New York, it does not get any easier as they return home for a four-game set with the AL Central leading Tigers. The Red Sox have few days off and lots of potential playoff teams in the mix in the upcoming weeks as well. This is an absolutely bad time for them to be slumping like they are as a group. The Red Sox are 3-0 against the Tigers, having swept them in Detroit earlier this season. The teams meet this week for the final time this regular season.
Brad Penny (5-2, 4.72 ERA, 1.49 WHIP at home this season) opens the series against Edwin Jackson (8-5, 2.62, 1.12 in 2009), one of the most improved players from last season. Junichi Tazawa will make his first career major league start, becoming the ninth pitcher to start a game for the Sox this season, against Rick Porcello (0-1, 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 2 K, 1 BB vs Red Sox) in the second game. In the third game, Josh Beckett (1-0, 7.2 IP, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 H, 9 K, 2 BB against the Tigers) takes the mound for a re-match against hard throwing Armando Galarraga (0-1, 7.o IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 2 K, 2 BB). Finally, Clay Buchholz (1-2, 5.33, 1.97), hopefully the one that pitched well against the Yankees, faces Justin Verlander (12-6, 3.45, 1.19).
Fernando Rodney has been solid as the closer, going 23-24 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 8.45 K/9. He gets the job done, but with some excitement from time to time.
The Tigers offense is average, but playig half of their games in Comerica Park and having gotten very little out of Mangglio Ordonez (.267 BA, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 39 R) for most of the season will help mute the offensive production. Miguel Cabrera is quietly having another great campaign with a .330 BA, 23 HR, 24 doubles, 63 R, and 67 RBI. Curtis Granderson knows how to fill up the stat sheet as well: .261, 22 HR, 67 R, 52 RBI, 20 SB. The Tigers will strike out a fair amount, so getting ahead of their hitters will be a key for the pitching staff.
The Red Sox looked absolutely horrible, especially offensively, in New York. With Detroit’s pitching, especially Verlander, the offense will continue to be tested. The Red Sox, barring a collective recovery, should continue to sputter and take one a single game.