ON DECK: Detroit Stars (Tigers) host division rival Cleveland Buckeyes (Indians)

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The Detroit Tigers wrap up their quick road trip in Boston by salvaging the final game of the series against the Red Sox after dropping the first two. The team took advantage of a Red Sox hurler making his major league debut, greeting him with a five-run first inning.

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The Tigers in that game plated seven runs and pounded out 10 hits, a stark contrast from the first two games where they mustered just one run and 10 total knocks. Thursday’s 7-2 win was just the 10th victory away from home this season for Detroit. After sweeping their first road series of the season in Chicago back in April, they have dropped the next eight road series (7-20 in that span).

UP NEXT

The good news is that the Tigers (30-34) return home, where they carry a 20-14 record, to kick off a six-game homestand against American League Central opposition, beginning with three against the division-leading Cleveland Indians (32-28). Detroit will be paying homage to the Negro League this weekend so we will have a Stars-Buckeyes matchup.

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Just last week, the Tribe were playing like they were about to take off, running away and hide from the rest of the division. They had won six straight and 10 of 14 overall. But dropping three straight recently at Minnesota has kept things somewhat interesting in the AL Central. Cleveland, however, does come into this series pretty well rested. They played just two games this week, with scheduled off days on Monday and Thursday, picking up a pair of wins against the Milwaukee Brewers at home.

This is the second of three trips to Detroit for the Indians. The Tigers took two of three from the Tribe back in mid-May

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1 | Trevor Bauer (Indians) vs. Michael Fulmer (Tigers)

There will be no shortage of “stuff” with these two starters on the bump. Trevor Bauer (4-4, 2.77 ERA) continues to enjoy a very fine season for Cleveland, despite allowing a season-high seven runs (three earned) his last time out against the Twins. Still, Bauer has been pretty dominant, especially as of late. He has reached double-digit strikeouts in three of his last four outings, including his last start in Detroit back on May 16 when he went eight scoreless and punched out 10 Tigers.

Michael Fulmer (2-5, 4.73 ERA) looked like in his last start that he was going to cruise and begin to turn things around. He had twirled five shutout innings of two-hit ball against the Toronto Blue Jays. Unfortunately, the wheels began to fall off in the sixth with a Justin Smoak homer. Fulmer was chased in the seventh after allowing the first two men to reach; he finished with four runs charged over 6+ frames. Now he faces an Indians team that lit him up for nine runs over just three innings back on April 12.

Game 2 | Mike Clevinger (Indians) vs. Mike Fiers (Tigers)

Mike Clevinger (4-2, 3.36 ERA) continues to establish himself more as a solid starter for Cleveland in what many would consider his first true full season as a big leaguer. He has been particularly valuable to a team that has had major woes in the bullpen. Clevinger has pitched into the seventh inning in nine of his 12 starts this season. This will be the first start against the Tigers this year for the 27-year-old, he posted a dazzling 0.76 ERA in four starts against Detroit last season.

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Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.33 ERA) matched a season-high with six strikeouts in his last start against the New York Yankees, in which he allowed just two runs over 5.2 innings of work. The 31-year-old has been a steady, serviceable fifth starter for the Tigers, pitching into the sixth inning in all but one of his outings this year. Fiers will make his fourth straight start at home after starting five of his first eight games away from Comerica Park. He tossed six innings of one-run ball against the Indians back on May 14, picking up the W.

Game 3 | Corey Kluber (Indians) vs. Artie Lewicki (Tigers)

Corey Kluber (9-2, 1.96 ERA), ho-hum. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner and reigning recipient of the honor currently leads the league in wins (9) and innings pitched (91.2 IP) through his first 13 starts. Kluber has been a model of consistency, compiling a sub-3.00 ERA since becoming a regular in the Indians’ rotation in 2013. All he did against the Tigers his last time out (April 9) was pitch eight shutout frames, striking out 13. He owns a lifetime 3.75 ERA in 23 games against Detroit.

The Tigers had this spot in the rotation listed as TBA but recently announced that they were going to give Artie Lewicki (0-1, 3.86 ERA) the ball. Lewicki in his first start of the year against Boston earlier this week needed 71 pitches to get through only 3.2 innings of work. He was docked with four runs officially, though only two were earned. And really, it unraveled in the fourth when he issued three walks and two runs came around to score in the inning. This will be second-ever appearance against the Indians for Lewicki, he pitched four scoreless innings in relief back on May 16.

HITTERS TO WATCH

It would behoove the Tigers to avoid pitching to José Ramírez if at all possible. Forget the fact that he is slashing .341/.429/.732 since April 21 but he has become a certified Tiger killer. Ramírez last season against Detroit hit nearly .500 with an OPS over 1.600 and has followed that up with a .400/.500/.840 slash line against the Tigers in seven games this season. Seriously, stop pitching to him, please.

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It is hard to find a guy to hone in on for the Tigers when the team is stuck on the interstate (under .200 BA) against the Tribe this year. But one guy who has had no such problems in Leonys Martín and it may just be the thing that jump-starts him again. Martín is hitting just .197 in 19 games since coming off the disabled list in mid-May. He has, however, mashed against Cleveland pitching this year, going 6 for 14 (.429 BA, 1.252 OPS) with three extra-base hits and three runs scored.

SERIES INFO

  • Game 1 | Fri, June 8 @ 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Game 2 | Sat, June 9 @ 4:10 p.m. ET
  • Game 3 | Sun, June 10 @ 1:10 p.m. ET

All games can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit unless otherwise noted. Be sure to check your local listings for regional radio broadcasts.

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Posted by Alex Muller
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MSU Graduate. Just a city boy born and raised in south Detroit. Baseball is life, a pitcher at heart. Freelance writer for MIPrepZone (News-Herald, Press & Guide).