Rick Porcello (10-7, 4.30) vs. Junichi Tazawa (0-1, 10.80), 7:10 p.m. EST
It's a battle of rookies tonight at Fenway Park, as the Tigers try to even up their road series with the Red Sox.
Junichi Tazawa makes his first start for Boston, taking what would've been John Smoltz's turn in the starting rotation. He'll be pitching against a team that was also interested in procuring his services during the offseason. The 23-year-old made his major league debut over the weekend at Yankee Stadium, coming into the 14th inning of a scoreless ballgame. Unfortunately for him, Tazawa served up a two-run, walk-off homer to Alex Rodriguez, making his debut less than memorable (at least for Red Sox fans). In 20 minor league starts this season, Tazawa was 9-7 with a 2.55 ERA.
After working to smooth out his mechanics and the pace at which he pitches, Rick Porcello has put together two impressive starts. Thanks largely to a sharper sinker, and keeping his off-speed pitches lower in the strike zone, Kid Rick has allowed just three runs and eight hits in those last two outings. And in his last start, Porcello didn't allow a hit in his first four innings. The last time he faced the Red Sox didn't go so well, however. At Comerica Park, Porcello didn't make it out of the fifth inning, giving up three runs and seven hits (one of them a homer by Jason Bay).
With Porcello pitching, Alex Avila should return to the Tigers' lineup tonight. Will his bat stay hot after sitting out the last three games?