Cliff Lee (9-1, 2.45) vs. Dontrelle Willis (0-0, 4.50)
You know what? If the Tigers don't win tonight, it's not good enough. This team needs to start making a push in the AL Central and splitting a series with the club directly ahead of them isn't going to accomplish that. Greedy? A bit overambitious? Hey, the Tigers haven't given us much this season, so we have the right to ask for more. We've been expecting it ever since April.
But it's probably not going to be easy against Cliff Lee, whose numbers make him look like an early favorite for the AL Cy Young Award. But maybe - just maybe - the Tigers are catching Lee on a downward trend, as his last two starts haven't been of award-worthy consideration. In road starts against the Royals and Rangers, Lee gave up a combined 10 runs and 19 hits in 11 innings. For what it's worth, Lee hasn't won in his last five starts against Detroit.
Dontrelle Willis makes what presumably will be a full start tonight, after being limited to four innings in a "piggyback start" with Armando Galarraga last week. Willis pitched pretty well, allowing just two hits and no runs with three strikeouts. He did walk four batters, however, so control is still an issue.
With a night game, we'll hopefully have a strong GameThread tonight. I'll likely miss the first few innings as I'll be indulging my inner NPR listener and attending a David Sedaris book signing in Ann Arbor. After I'm done sipping my latte and trying to look cultured, I'll join the fracas at the end. (I probably shouldn't have admitted all of that.) Considering the Tigers have won the last two games with me away from the discussion, however, maybe this will be a good thing.