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ON DECK: Tigers hit the road for brief series with Red Sox

It was a very successful and extended homestand for the Detroit Tigers. It began with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory against the Chicago White Sox on May 25 and ended with a 4-2 win on Monday in the back end of a twin bill against the New York Yankees. All in all, Detroit went 8-4 during this recent stint at home and they remain just 2.5 games back of the division-leading Cleveland Indians in the American League Central.

UP NEXT

The Tigers (29-32) now hop on a plane and head east for a quick three-game series at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox (41-19). This has been one of the better offensive teams in baseball through this point in the season, if not the best. Boston currently ranks 1st or 2nd in most offensive categories, including runs (1st), doubles (2nd), home runs (2nd), batting average (2nd) and OPS (2nd).

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Boston has basically become “Tigers East” this year too, or at least more so with the big signing of J.D. Martinez this past winter by former Tigers president and general manager, Dave Dombrowski. The Red Sox also carry both David Price and Rick Porcello in their starting rotation. However, Detroit will avoid facing both of them in this series.

The Tigers have won the season series in each of the last two seasons against the Red Sox and four of the last five years overall. They dropped two of three in Fenway around this exact time last year, though.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1 | Artie Lewicki (Tigers) vs. Steven Wright (Red Sox)

Due to multiple injuries within the Tigers’ starting rotation, guys like Artie Lewicki (0-0, 3.60 ERA) are getting opportunities to show what they are capable of. Lewicki is in his second major league season after debuting down the stretch in 2017. He has exclusively pitched out of the bullpen in long relief so far for Detroit and, by and large, has been very serviceable. This will be his first start of the season and second ever major league start.

Steven Wright (1-0, 2.25 ERA) has a pretty interesting story to the majors. A former Cleveland Indians farmhand, the 33-year-old converted to a knuckleball pitcher back in 2011, mutually agreed upon along with the club. He has primarily been a spot starter in the minors for Boston since debuting in 2013. Wright, however, did log a career-high 24 starts in 2014 and earned All-Star honors that year with a 3.33 ERA. He has been exclusively out of the bullpen for the Red Sox this year, only making six appearances after dealing with an injury to start the year and then serving a brief suspension for a domestic violence incident stemming back to last December.

Game 2 | Blaine Hardy (Tigers) vs. Eduardo Rodríguez (Red Sox)

Blaine Hardy (2-0, 2.77 ERA) continues to pitch like a guy that does not want to go back to the bullpen any time soon. Albeit not his best outing in terms of control, Hardy turned in a second consecutive quality start by going six innings of two-run ball, despite walking a season-high four batters. He now has a 2.82 ERA in his four starts made. Regardless of his role, the contact made against Hardy has been relatively weak. Opponents are slugging just .368 against the 31-year-old this year.

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It will be a battle of southpaws when Hardy opposes Eduardo Rodríguez (6-1, 3.88 ERA) on the ledger. Still just 25 years old, some could say he is still working to establish himself as an “every fifth day” starter.  However, his problem early on in his career has just been staying healthy for a full season. Rodríguez made a career-high 24 starts (25 total games) in 2017 and has already made 11 starts. He has been rather solid as of late, compiling a 2.25 ERA over his last five outings. This will be Rodríguez’s fifth straight start at home.

Game 3 | Matthew Boyd (Tigers) vs. Drew Pomeranz (Red Sox)

More lefties! No complaints from yours truly on that front. Matthew Boyd (3-4, 3.23 ERA) managed to give the Tigers seven innings his last time out, matching his longest start of the season that he has done twice prior. Boyd was pretty economical too, needing just 94 pitches to get through those seven frames against the Toronto Blue Jays. He did, however, run into some trouble with the long ball. He allowed two home runs to the Jays after six straight starts of not allowing a gopher ball. This will be Boyd’s third career start against the Red Sox and the first since 2016.

Drew Pomeranz (1-43, 6.81 ERA) had probably his best season as a big leaguer in 2017 when he carded a 3.32 ERA over 32 starts with Boston in 2017. Traded four times in his professional career, the 29-year-old is in his second full season with the Red Sox since arriving mid-season via trade from the San Diego Padres in 2016. This season, it has been a rocky start for Pomeranz. He only has eight starts under his belt after starting the season on the DL and has only got through six innings in two of those eight outings.

HITTERS TO WATCH

Tigers shortstop José Iglesias has been absolutely raking for that last month-plus now. Iglesias had just a .579 OPS in the month of April and spiked it up a much more respectable .760 mark in May. So far in June, he is off to a 5-for-14 start with three of his five knocks going for doubles, good for a .971 OPS. Iggy has also mashed against his former employer over the last two seasons, hitting .342 (13 for 38) against the Red Sox since the start of 2016.

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Now, we could go in a number of directions here for Boston. But we are going to single out first baseman Mitch Moreland here. The 32-year-old re-upped with the Red Sox in the winter after a solid 2017 campaign. His early success this year made it easier for the club to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment last month. Moreland has posted a career-high slash line of .305/.369/.631 through 44 games, now as the team’s everyday first baseman. He also has a career .301 average and .833 OPS in 46 games against the Tigers.

SERIES INFO

  • Game 1 | Tue, June 5 @ 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Game 2 | Wed, June 6 @ 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Game 3 | Thu, June 7 @ 7:10 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.

*Game can be seen on ESPN

Written by Alex Muller

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).

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