Once again, the Tigers are faced with another Salvage Sunday after losing the first two games of a weekend series. Also at stake is the .500 mark, under which Detroit would fall with a loss - and series sweep - today. Staying within seven games of the White Sox for first place in the AL Central is also a concern, unless you're of the belief that catching the ChiSox is becoming more of a dream each day.
And if anybody can help end a losing streak, it would be Detroit's best starting pitcher this season. Armando Galarraga has won his last two starts, allowing just four runs over 12 1/3 innings, while also regaining the control (three walks during that span) that has made him such an efficient pitcher. However, Galarraga was also the beneficiary of generous run support, as the Tigers scored 15 runs in those two games. Not only have runs not been easy to come by in this series, but that trend seems likely to continue against Tampa's starter today.
James Shields might not boast an impressive record, but he's been victimized by the Rays' inability to consistently score runs this season. (You wouldn't know that, of course, judging by how they've played against the Tigers these past two games.) His change-up makes him just the kind of pitcher that gives Detroit's lineup problems. In two starts against the Tigers last season, Shields went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA, while striking out 14 in 16 innings.