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Game 50 Preview: Tigers at Red Sox

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BOSTON, MA - MAY 25:  Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox gestures before the start of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Fenway Park May 25, 2012  in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 25: Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox gestures before the start of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Fenway Park May 25, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Detroit Tigers (23-26) at Boston Red Sox (25-24)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Fenway Park

SB Nation Blog: Over the Monster

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

Pitching Matchup: Drew Smyly (2-1, 3.14 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (3-4, 4.72 ERA)

Lester has been a bit up-and-down in the early part of the season, but this is nothing new from him. He doesn't really get into a groove until about June, where his career ERA drops to 2.52. Still, he's very good at mowing down overmatched lineups, which he may see this evening (more on that later).

Lester was roughed up by the Rays in his last start, giving up 7 runs in just 4 innings. He gave up three home runs, two of which were to lefthanded hitters. This seems to be a coincidence though, as he has been otherwise mowing down any and all lefties in his path this year. Righties are another story, and the Tigers have a couple that seem to have Lester's number. Both Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta have hit for a career OPS over 1.000 against Lester. Given Peralta's recent power surge and what looks to be a black hole from lineup spots 7-9 tonight, the Tigers will need to lean on these two heavily.

Smyly has given up four runs in each of his last three starts and hasn't gone longer than 5 innings in any of them. The issue? He isn't stranding runners with the frequency that he was in April. We expected this number to drop off, but it's encouraging that this is his only issue. He isn't getting shelled -- he's the only Tigers starter who has yet to give up more than 7 hits in at least one start -- and isn't walking very many batters. The only improvement that I'd like to see out of him is efficiency; if he could get through 6 innings consistently and post an ERA around 4.00, I'm sure most fans would be happy.

Outlook

Gerald Laird, Omir Santos, and Danny Worth are all expected to be in the lineup against the ace of the Red Sox' staff. Forgive me if this -- coupled with Smyly's recent regression to the mean -- doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the Tigers' chances of winning this game. Still, crazier things have happened.

Prediction

There will be a small increase in broom sales in Boston prior to tomorrow's game.