Chad Durbin (5-3, 4.60) vs. Jason Simontacchi (4-4, 4.84), 7:05 p.m. EST
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It seems like a rough thing to say, given how well Durbin has pitched for the Detroit Tigers this year, but with Kenny Rogers coming back to the team on Friday, this could be one of the last times we see him as a starter. Unfortunately, Durbin didn't help his cause last Thursday against Milwaukee, giving up eight hits and two runs in only 3 2/3 innings. It might have been his worst game since his first two starts in April. If that's how Durbin pitches when he's worried about his position, it could be an interesting game tonight.
Simontacchi was very good against Baltimore last Thursday, giving up only one run in seven innings. However, he did give up nine hits in the game. And the Tigers have scored five runs or more in 11 out of their 16 games in June. So it could be another big night for the Detroit lineup in D.C.
Of course, the bullpen could still make the game much closer, and much more uncomfortable, than it should be. But the middle relief was fine last night. It was the closer that made us bite down on splints. (Or am I the only one who does that?) Maybe Todd Jones won't be available, after throwing 26 pitches in the ninth inning last night. Jim Leyland says Jones wasn't sharp because he wasn't pitching in a save situation, but if one comes up tonight, it'll be interesting to see who pitches in the ninth.
▪▪ Per Danny Knobler, there will be no Pudge Rodriguez tonight. He's getting the night off. Placido Polanco will get a break tomorrow.
▪▪ Speaking of Polanco, he's added to his lead over Robinson Cano for the AL All-Star second base spot. He's now 138,000 votes ahead. Magglio Ordonez is also within 80,000 votes of Ichiro Suzuki for the final starting outfielder position.
And would you believe Sean Casey is now ahead of Jason Giambi in third place for first base?
Nine more days to vote, people.