Jason Hammel (1-1, 5.40) vs. Nate Robertson (6-9, 5.05), 7:05 p.m. EST
Oh, it was so nice to be able to change the Tigers' win total to "62" for the headline of tonight's game thread. Last night's win felt really big, but I suppose its joy will be fleeting if the Tigers can't follow it up with another one tonight and begin to string together some kind of positive streak.
Jason Hammel recently joined the Rays' starting rotation and is still trying to stretch out to take on a bigger innings workload. So far, in three starts, he hasn't won a game but also hasn't pitched long enough to qualify for one. According to the numbers, he's been pretty generous with walks in those three games, so patience should be a virtue for the Tigers tonight. Hammel was pulled from his last start when he felt tightness in his right shoulder, but is apparently ready to go tonight.
Since his brilliant outing against the Twins three weeks ago, Nate Robertson hasn't won a game. He (and the Tigers' bullpen) probably pitched well enough to win last week against Oakland, but the lineup couldn't manage more than two runs, resulting in one of the more frustrating losses in this recent slump. In his previous start against the Rays back in May, Robertson gave up four runs and nine hits (two of them home runs) in 5 1/3 innings.
Gary Sheffield will be out again this evening, but despite taking another cortisone shot over the weekend - this time in his left shoulder - he expects to be back in the lineup tomorrow. No word yet on Pudge Rodriguez, who was a late scratch because of a sore ankle, though he's expected to play. And Marcus Thames begins what is hoped to be a two-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo tonight.