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Game 48 Preview: Tigers at Red Sox

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BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 22:  Starting pitcher Felix Doubront #61 of the Boston Red Sox throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter during the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 22, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 22: Starting pitcher Felix Doubront #61 of the Boston Red Sox throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter during the first inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 22, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Detroit Tigers (23-24) at Boston Red Sox (23-24)

Time/Place: 1:30 p.m., Fenway Park

SB Nation Blog: Over the Monster

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

Pitching Matchup: Doug Fister (0-2, 1.84 ERA) vs. Felix Doubront (4-2, 3.96 ERA)

In his last start, Felix Doubront used his curveball very effectively and struck out nine batters against the Baltimore Orioles in 6 innings pitched. He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks, but still took the loss. While Doubront's strikeout numbers are nice -- and as you'll see below, have the Boston faithful all in a tizzy -- the Orioles lead the majors in strikeouts as a team. Doubront strikes a lot of guys out in general, but also walks quite a few batters. He's essentially been a poor man's Max Scherzer so far, except a bit more consistent.

Surprisingly, lefties have hit better against Doubront than righties this year. As Rod Allen will probably mention at least twice tonight -- I'd go with three times if I were a betting man -- Doubront has a good changeup, which tends to work better against righthanded hitters when you are a lefthanded pitcher. He's throwing it nearly 15% of the time this year and it has a 19.1% whiff rate, which is huge.

Last time Fister faced the Red Sox, the Tigers won 10-0. It wasn't all puppies and ice cream though, because Fister left the game in the 4th inning and we didn't see him in the Olde English D for a month. I'd say "let's hope this one ends better," but I'm thinking that Fister would rather not repeat any of his starts this season. In the four games that Fister has pitched in since returning from the disabled list, the team is 0-4 and has scored a total of 8 runs. An injury-free win would be ideal.

Happy Memorial Day

To all of our readers who are currently serving or formerly served in our nation's military, thank you.

Fun Fact

The Tigers are 4-0 this season when going into a game against a team with an identical record.

And you thought we had a lot of first basemen...

Since Kevin Youkilis has come off the disabled list, Adrian Gonzalez has been the Red Sox' primary right fielder. With a grand total of 55 career innings under his belt in the outfield, no stat is going to provide an accurate look at his skill out there. He did make a nice sliding catch in foul territory in Philadelphia, for what it's worth. So why is Gonzalez out there? The Red Sox have a number of players on the disabled list, including every single outfielder that they used in the series at Comerica Park back in April.

Outlook

It's too early to call the previous series a "turning point" in the Tigers season, but it could be. With the team sitting at 3-3 on the current road trip, even a split of this series in Boston would be huge. Doubront's high walk rate could prove to be his downfall against a lineup that has suddenly discovered how to drive in runners on base. Add in the fact that the Tigers are finally heading to a hitter-friendly park -- somewhere they haven't been since leaving Chicago two weeks ago -- and we could see this nice little trend continue.

And if all else fails, we'll just torch their bullpen again. Alfredo Aceves blew his save opportunity against the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday, no doubt because he was too afraid of what is looming on the horizon.

Prediction

Brennan Boesch finds the short porch in right field tonight.

Gameday Reading:

Felix Doubront's Nine-Strikeout Performance Proof He Has Talent to Win Cy Young - NESN.com
As we've seen around here with Quintin Berry's arrival, hyperbole is fun. Max Scherzer gets a shout out in the comments.

Alfredo Aceves takes his own path to success with the Red Sox - The Boston Globe, Peter Abraham
"Alfredo Aceves jogged out of the bullpen at Comerica Park in Detroit on April 8, charged with protecting a three-run lead for the Red Sox in the ninth inning." Awesome way to start this article.

.gif | Quintin Berry’s Run-Saving Diving Catch - Walkoff Woodward, Rob Rogacki
Yeah, it's worth watching again.