Is this the Tigers' biggest game of the season, as the Freep's Michael Rosenberg wrote today? That might be going a bit overboard, since these two teams have another series next week in Detroit. And I realize Rosenberg had his tongue near the inside of his cheek when he said that. But this is an important series. Both the Tigers and Indians have been struggling, so neither team has been able to gain advantage in the AL Central. But playing head-to-head changes that.
A month ago, we would've been happy to have Jeremy Bonderman going for the Tigers in a key series opener. But right now, he's not exactly instilling confidence. Bondo is winless in his past five starts, and has gotten mashed in the last three of those games. He's given up 23 earned runs (and 29 hits) in his last 15 1/3 innings. Even Jason Grilli is looking at that and saying, "Damn."
C.C. Sabathia has won only one of his past four starts, but hasn't given up nearly the same amount of runs as Bonderman. We're talking six earned runs over his last 27 innings. Getting run support from his lineup has been the problem. So who's in a better position going into this game? Sabathia does have a 7.36 ERA (15 earned runs in 18 1/3 innings) this season against the Tigers, however.
Both Placido Polanco and Craig Monroe are out tonight with viral infections. (Something nasty is going around the Tigers' clubhouse; it's not just the losing.) And Carlos Guillen will start tonight at first base, as Sean Casey sits out against the left-handed Sabathia. Omar Infante will start at shortstop and Ryan Raburn will play second base.
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