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Game 49 Preview: Tigers at Red Sox

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May 16, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
May 16, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox

Time/Place: 7 p.m., Fenway Park

SB Nation Blog: Over the Monster

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

Pitching Matchup: Justin Verlander (5-2, 2.15 ERA) vs. Daniel Bard (4-5, 4.69 ERA)

Unlike Felix Doubront, Bard's transition to the rotation in 2012 hasn't raised any eyebrows. Bard has been consistent, however; he has gone at least 5 innings in every start this year and hasn't allowed more than 5 runs in any appearance. Bard's walk rate is actually higher than his strikeout rate, and seems to be your run-of-the-mill 5th starter type. Other than the high walk rate, he seems tailor-made to be a member of the Minnesota Twins.

Bard, a product of the University of North Carolina, was teammates with former Tigers prospect and current Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller. Both were drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft -- Miller 6th overall, Bard 28th. Considering that the Tigers turned Miller into Miguel Cabrera, I'd give a point to Dave Dombrowski in this theoretical scenario that really only makes sense in my head. In this same scenario, former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein gets an automatic negative 50 points because he thinks he can turn the Chicago Cubs into a winner.

Our latest foray into the "Justin Verlander Taco Bell Extravaganza Tour" shows us some promising results. There's one location less than half a mile away from Fenway Park, but I'm more intrigued by the next two results on Google Maps. Result 'A' is listed as "Taco Bell," but 'B' and 'C' are listed as "Taco Bell Restaurant." If any of our readers that live in Boston and/or work for Google can explain this phenomenon, I would love to know what the difference is. Maybe the "restaurant" indicates that it has a drive-through?

...

Man, have I lowered the standards of this site or what?

Outlook

OK, real stuff: Verlander has put up good numbers against everyone in the Red Sox lineup except David Ortiz, who has a career 1.042 OPS against him in 24 plate appearances. Nick Punto, on the other hand, has an OPS of .395 against him. Still, Verlander needs to be on in order to keep the Red Sox from playing pinball off the Green Monster like they did yesterday. Another dominant, bullpen-saving performance would be ideal. Meanwhile, the offense just needs to score. I want to be irrational and hope for another 20+ win season from Verlander. Winning this game would guarantee at least a 4-6 road trip for the Tigers, with a chance to split the last two games of this series to bump that up to 5-5.

Prediction

The crystal ball is a little hazy this morning, so I'll go with a gimme: Verlander gets through at least 6 innings and extends his streak.

Gameday Reading:

Video: Daniel Bard says every start's a new battle - Boston.com, Steve Silva
Bard talks about his transition from the bullpen to the rotation for 2012.

Red Sox 7, Tigers 4: Quick Reaction - Over the Monster, Ben Buchanan
A recap from the enemy, with a fairly unbiased (though brief) account of that play that we're not going to talk about anymore.

Umpires Beat Tigers as Red Sox Stand By and Chuckle (Tigers 4, Red Sox 4, Bill Welke 3) - Walkoff Woodward, Josh Worn
The title says it all, really.