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Game 64 preview: Colorado Rockies at Detroit Tigers

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June 1, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Crosby (45) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
June 1, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Crosby (45) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Colorado Rockies at Detroit Tigers

Time/Place: 7:05 pm, Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: SB Nation Denver

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

Pitching Matchup: Casey Crosby vs. Jeff Francis

Tigers' left handed rookie Casey Crosby is coming off a victory over the Cleveland Indians in his last outing, giving up three runs in 5-1/3 innings in that contest. In his two starts for the Tigers this season, Crosby has an inflated 9.35 ERA while allowing 1.85 runners per inning. Casey made his major league debut against the New York Yankees, when he lasted only 3-1/3 innings which included a five run second inning where he gave up just one hit, a Curtis Granderson grand slam. Crosby has given up seven walks in just eight innings of work, and he will have to avoid that if he plans on any kind of career in the major leagues.

Jeff Francis makes his second appearance of the season for Colorado, after giving up eight runs and ten hits in just 3-1/3 innings of work in a loss to the Angels last weekend. Francis has come full cycle in his career. A six foot five lefty, former first round pick of the Rockies in 2002, spent his first six seasons with Colorado, posting a 4.84 ERA, never dipping below the 4.00 mark for a full season. He left for Kansas City as a free agent in 2011, and has battled injuries for the past several seasons. He was signed by Cincinnati in January, but never appeared in a Reds uniform before being released in June and heading back to his original home in Colorado.

Francis is 0- 2 against the Tigers but has pitched fairly well, with a 3.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 14 Ks. Crosby has never faced the Rockies.

The Tigers return home having won five of their last seven games. A nice week, but not nearly enough to offset the bad taste from a season that has been far short of expectations thus far. Austin Jackson has returned from the disabled list, and has picked up right where he left off, hitting a pair of home runs, eight RBI including some game winners, and posting a .941 OPS since his return. Over that same time frame, Brennan Boesch is hitting .500 with a couple home runs, four RBI, four runs scored, and an OPS of 1.340.

The Rockies are struggling this year, sitting in fourth place, 14 games under .500 and 15 games behind the Dodgers in the National League's west division. They're on an eight game losing streak, and while they lead the league in runs scored, they are dead last in scoring runs on the road, where they are hitting just .227 as a team.

Outlook

Tiger fans should have all learned by now not to salivate when they see a struggling lefty staggering into town, his numbers all in tatters. Too often, the Bruce Chen syndrome takes over, and after a couple innings of Tiger hitters swinging at shadows, the lefty gains his confidence and morphs into Sandy Koufax. One would think that would not happen here, as the Tigers seem to be finally getting some traction, with a couple of hitters at the top of the lineup red hot and the guys at the bottom of the order finally starting to come around. But you never know.

With Crosby, as with so many other young pitchers, it's a matter of command. Casey has the stuff of an Andy Oliver, but not quite the control of a Drew Smyly. He needs to keep the BB's to a minimum, and to the extent that he does inevitably give out some free passes, keep the ball down with runners on base and hope that the ball is hit directly to one of the Tigers' stationary infielders.

Prediction

Tigers continue their winning ways and outslug Jim Leyland's former team. If the over/ under for total runs is ten, bet the over.