To the surprise of virtually nobody, the Detroit Tigers suffered yet another series loss at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, dropping two of three to the Tribe over the weekend at Comerica Park. Both teams were not shy about their offensive approaches of putting the ball in the air, particularly Cleveland. Of the 211 batted balls put into fair play in the series, 113 of those were via the fly ball (72 from the Indians alone), 15 more than the combined total of ground balls and line drives.
The Redlegs continue to play improved and inspired baseball under interim manager Jim Riggleman. After dropping their first three games coming out of the All-Star break. Cincinnati has won five of seven overall, including three of four this past weekend against the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. They are now two games over .500 (45-43) since Riggleman took over the managerial duties, after starting the season 3-15.
The Tigers dropped both games in the Queen City back in June. This is the Reds’ first visit to Comerica Park since 2015 and just the second time in the last 13 seasons.
Game 1 | Homer Bailey (Reds) vs. Matthew Boyd (Tigers)
Once upon a time, Homer Bailey (1-7, 6.29 ERA) was a stalwart in the Reds’ rotation, pitching to a 3.95 ERA in 149 starts from 2009-14. That earned Bailey a rather lucrative six-year contract worth $104 million that, simply put, has not paid dividends for Cincinnati since then. Bailey has made just 39 total starts over the last four seasons, including just eight from 2015-16, with an ERA well north of 6.00, all due to multiple injury woes.
The now 32-year-old had likely his best outing of the season thus far back on July 24, his first after a near-two-month stint in the disabled list. Bailey in that game allowed two earned over 6.2 innings, posting a season-high in pitches (115) and strikeouts (8).
Meanwhile, Matthew Boyd (5-9, 4.53 ERA) has been much better in his two starts since the All-Star break, logging a 2.45 ERA in that span compared to a mark approaching 10.00 in his five outings leading up to the break. The first of those five, however, came against these Reds when he allowed five runs over just four innings. Four of those five allowed came on a fluky, wall-scraper grand slam off the bat of Joey Votto that popped in and out of Nicholas Castellanos’ glove in right field.
Boyd this year at home has a 3.40 ERA in nine starts versus a 5.49 mark in 11 starts away from Comerica Park.
Game 2 | Sal Romano (Reds) vs. Mike Fiers (Tigers)
It has been a little bit of a sophomore slump for Sal Romano (6-8, 5.04 ERA) in Cincinnati. The biggest difference for the 24-year-old has been the long ball, he has given up nearly doubled the dingers per nine innings (1.6) that he did as a rookie in 2017 (0.9). Romano has been better in his last two starts, compiling a 3.45 ERA. His best start of the season came against these Tigers back on June 19 when he tossed seven scoreless frames and struck out six, working around four free passes.
Barring some last-minute deal before the trade deadline on Tuesday, Mike Fiers (7-6, 3.54 ERA) will make his 21st start of the season for the Detroit Tigers. Fiers in his last start against the Cleveland Indians allowed three earned runs over six innings, with all three runs coming on a pair of homers. It was the first time over his last six appearances that Fiers had allowed multiple bombs in a start. This will be his first time facing the Reds since 2016 but he carries a 2.72 ERA in nine career games (seven starts) against Cincinnati.
HITTERS TO WATCH
This will be the first time that Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez returns to Detroit since the Tigers traded him in December of 2014 in exchange for Alfredo Simon… woof. Cincinnati was not shy about plugging in Suarez as an everyday player right away and he has blossomed into one of the premier hitters in baseball, not just the senior circuit. His 80 RBI currently lead the National League and his .957 OPS trails only Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.
The Tigers’ current placeholder at the hot corner, Jeimer Candelario, is slowly but surely showing signs of breaking free from his mid-season funk at the dish. Candy is 8 for 32 in eight games out of the break, with an OPS barely over .600… hey, given his OPS was .530 in his final 32 games leading up to the All-Star break, it is at least encouraging. He also performed well in the two games against the Reds earlier this year. Candy officially went 2 for 6 with a homer, two RBI, and three walks.
- Game 1 | Tue, July 31 @ 7:10 p.m. ET
- Game 2 | Wed, Aug 1 @ 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.