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Game 43 Preview: Tigers at Indians

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Detroit Tigers (20-22) at Cleveland Indians (24-18)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Progressive Field

SB Nation Blog: Let's Go Tribe

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Doug Fister (0-2, 1.59 ERA) vs. Zach McAllister (1-1, 4.34 ERA)

McAllister is a 24-year old righthander who is having an impressive 2012 so far. He's only made 3 starts, but has pitched well in each of them. His ERA isn't particularly impressive, but he has a K/9 rate above 9 and his FIP is just 2.59. Despite his high K rate, McAllister doesn't seem to overpower guys with his fastball in the low 90s. He will also feature a slider, curveball and change up, but has relied primarily on his fastball this season.

In his last start, McAllister gave up 4 runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Seattle Mariners. He breezed through the first couple innings, but got into trouble later on when he started to lose his command. He ended up walking 5 Seattle hitters in all. One thing I would like to see the Tigers do is be very aggressive on the basepaths against McAllister. He didn't seem to hold runners on very well against Seattle and isn't particularly quick to the plate. If Quintin Berry starts, I would hope that he is in motion every time he gets on base.

Poor Doug Fister. In his first three starts since returning from his injury, the Tigers offense has provided a total of 6 runs for him to work with. Meanwhile, he has struck out 16 batters while walking four, and has 3 quality starts to show for his efforts. Fister's last start was a little rough, but since then the Minnesota Twins have turned into an offensive juggernaut, scoring 29 runs in 4 games. Fister dominated the Indians after he was traded to the Tigers last season, giving up four runs in 25 2/3 innings -- and two of those runs were in a rain-shortened start back in August.

First pitch floundering... or flourishing?

Fans everywhere -- yeah, even here -- have been all over Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch for their lack of patience at the plate. While I won't go through every single at bat to see what's going on, it seems like they're starting to get it together. Since May 7, Boesch is hitting .314/.364/.431. His power isn't there yet, but moving him to the bottom of the lineup seems to have done the trick. Meanwhile, Delmon is humming along at a .318/.348/.591 clip. He finally seems like he's getting accustomed to the DH role, a move that I think a lot of people are underestimating in terms of difficulty. I would like to see them be forced to take a pitch in each at bat, though. Both guys are hitting the tar out of the ball in 0-1 counts, and their 1-0 count splits are still better than their first pitch numbers.

Outlook

Somehow, last night's loss qualified as rock bottom for some fans despite the fact that we lost to a first-place team on the road. Other than Austin Jackson's health, I'm still not concerned about this team or their ability to improve as the season progresses. We're seeing glimpses of productivity from various parts of the lineup and the rotation has been better than expected. As someone in the recap thread noted, the Tigers have their two best starters set to go in the next two games. There's a very good chance that the Tigers can still leave Cleveland with a series win, which could go a long way in helping this team's confidence going forward.

Prediction

Fister out-duels McAllister in a low scoring affair.

Gameday Reading:

Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians Series Preview - Walkoff Woodward, Josh Worn
"Lewie Pollis of the fantastic Wahoo’s On First blog and I exchanged e-mails regarding the current state of the team." You can read Doc's profile of the Tigers here.

Tigers pitcher Doug Fister's run-support frustration resurfaces - Detroit Free Press, John Lowe
"Doug Fister might have that feeling he had with Seattle. He's pitching well, but he's not winning in part because he's not getting run support."

Game 42: Indians 5, Tigers 3 - Let's Go Tribe
"Ubaldo Jimenez dodged and weaved his way through six innings, and the Tribe bullpen did the rest."