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Open Thread - Game 52: Tigers (30-21) at Devil Rays (21-29)

Nate Robertson (4-4, 4.03) vs. James Shields (3-0, 3.15), 7:10 p.m. EST

14 runs is one hell of a way to break a losing streak. After laying a two touchdown smackdown on the Devil Dawgs last night, Ol' Nate has to be wondering if any runs are left in the bucket for him tonight. And frankly, he could use them. Robertson hasn't been very good in three of his last four starts. Even in that one win, the Cardinals worked him for 100 pitches in five innings. He's giving up far too many hits (double digits in three of his last four games) and getting chased early because his pitches just aren't fooling anyone right now. Maybe adjusting his delivery will help.

Shields, on the other hand, seems to be fooling plenty of batters with his change-up. Well, maybe that's taking it a bit far. Shields hasn't lost a game, but he also hasn't gotten a decision in seven of his 10 starts. Which means that he's either not getting enough run support, the batting order has bailed him out at times, or his bullpen has blown a few leads. Or all of the above. However, if the Rays have an ace, this guy is it. 64 strikeouts (and only 16 walks) in 74 1/3 innings looks pretty impressive. So does the curveball he mixes in with his change-up (or so I've read - ahem).

But Shields also digs giving up the long ball (nine of them), which might not be the best tendency against our Detroit Tigers. Has he met Gary Sheffield?

And whatever home cooking Sheff is receiving during his stay in Tampa, the Tigers should make sure they get a whole kettle of the stuff and bring it with them to Cleveland this weekend. The dude is flat out rakin', bacon. (Speaking of bacon, have you seen this?)

Short Hops:

▪▪ This just in from Josh Wallen at The Daily Fungo: Brandon Inge broke his toe in last night's game. And Josh may have hurt himself coming up with the pun for his headline. Yeesh.

▪▪ Over at Tiger Tales, Lee looks into RBI percentage, a new stat that could be the newest craze with us kids, and applies it to our Detroit Tigers. Factoring in RBI opportunities might shake up your perception of Detroit's lineup a bit.

▪▪ Placido Polanco is the second baseman on Jeff Passan's All-Underpaid Team.

▪▪ On other lists, Carlos Guillen is #20 on Joe Posnanski's list of 25 most exciting players in baseball. The rest of his top 10 will be posted later. (via The Detroit Tigers Weblog)

▪▪ Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times thinks the Rays' starting rotation needs some turnover - now.