Game 59 Preview: Red Sox at Tigers

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Anibal Sanchez takes the mound against Boston's John Lackey, as the Tigers go for six in a row against the Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox (27-34) at Detroit Tigers (33-25)

Time/Place: 8:07 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation blog: Over the Monster

Media: ESPN, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP John Lackey (6- 4, 3.28 ERA) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (2- 2, 2.15 ERA)

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP FIP SIERA fWAR
Lackey 12 79.2 8.02 1.81 0.79 1.24 3.03 3.33 2.1
Sanchez 9 50.1 8.23 2.68 0.00 0.89 2.13 3.44 1.8

The Tigers will attempt to sweep the season series against Boston on Sunday night at Comerica park, something that has not been done by either team in the 114 year rivalry between the two American League clubs.

Lackey is off to a fine start in 2014, despite his team's struggles. After missing the entire 2012 season, the big right-hander bounced back in 2013 and was even stronger in the post season, shutting out the Tigers and Justin Verlander in game 3 of the American League championship series, with the help of his lock down bullpen, 1- 0.  Sanchez beat the Red Sox in game one of the series, 1- 0, striking out twelve in six shutout innings. The Red Sox got to Sanchez in game five with a rare home run by Mike Napoli in a 4-3 Boston win.

Lackey enters the contest on a two game hot streak, shutting out his last two opponents, the Rays and the Braves, but he gave up five runs to Detroit in his previous start at Fenway park in a 6- 1 Tiger win. Sanchez held the Red Sox to just one run in five innings in his return from two weeks on the disabled list with a blister on a finger on his throwing hand. The victory was the last before the Tigers went on to Cleveland where they commenced their recent 4- 13 stretch.

Sanchez, the 2013 American League ERA champion, has been easily the Tigers' most effective starting pitcher this season, leading the rotation in ERA, FIP, fWAR (tied with Scherzer despite his time on the DL), and he has yet to allow a home run this season. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in any game thus far, giving up three runs only once. Opponents are hitting just .170 against Sanchez.

Hitter to fear: David Ortiz is 3 for 4 with a pair of home runs against Sanchez in his career

Hitter to fail: Jonathan Herrera is 0 for 7 with a pair of strikeouts

Most of the Tigers in the current lineup have had success against Lackey. Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, and Victor Martinez each hold a career average of .400, while Ian Kinsler is batting .421. Rajai Davis is hitting .387, Nick Castellanos and Don Kelly are batting .333. Kinsler has four home runs, Cabrera and Hunter each have a pair.

Outlook

The Tigers swept the Red Sox in Boston to complete a six game win streak, sending Boston into a ten game tailspin. Fortunes reversed since then, with Boston losing ten straight, then winning seven in a row and now they're on a five game losing streak after last night's defeat. More importantly, the Red Sox find themselves seven games under .500, ten games behind the first place Toronto Blue Jays.

One might think that all the left-handed hitters in the Boston lineup could pose a problem, but Sanchez has allowed a batting average of just .142 against left-handers this season.  Right-handers haven't fared much better, batting just .214 against him.  Sanchez figures to be fine, as long as he gets good defense, some run support, and relief to back up his work.

Prediction

Tigers make it three in a row, and six straight over Boston

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