Cleveland Indians (28-25) at Detroit Tigers (25-29)
Time/Place: 7 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Blog: Let's Go Tribe
Pitching Matchup: Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4, 5.79 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (2-1, 3.46 ERA)
Comerica Park has been a house of horrors for Jimenez throughout his career. In four starts, he has an ERA of 9.78 in less than 20 innings. His last visit ended poorly (for him), as the Tigers knocked him around for 6 runs en route to a 14-0 drubbing. Jimenez was able to dance his way out of trouble in his start against the Tigers on May 22nd, but I don't think he will be so fortunate tonight. If he can't find the strike zone, his night will end quickly.
Jimenez's last start is a perfect example of what could happen this evening if the Tigers' offense wakes up. Jimenez didn't do anything different, leaving plenty of pitches out over the plate. The only difference between his last two starts is execution. The White Sox were able to punish each and every mistake that Jimenez made, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and adding plenty more in the middle innings. Timely hitting: what a concept.
Smyly left fans wondering "What if?" after his last start against the Boston Red Sox. What if he had been able to get that third out in the 4th inning? He cruised through the first 11 batters of the game and was this close to sending the BYB game thread into a Verlander-like hush, if you know what I mean. A few minutes later, the Red Sox were up 4-3 and people were wondering what else could go wrong. Well, for Smyly, the answer was "nothing." I was impressed with how he responded to that bad inning. He buckled down and got through two more frames before the bullpen took over in the 7th. If Smyly pitches tonight like he did in Boston -- minus those few batters, of course -- we may see the longest start of his young career.
There's no place like home...
If you think the Tigers struggle at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Indians fans would like a word with you. The Tribe are an abysmal 4-23 at Comerica Park since the beginning of the 2009 season, including a 1-8 mark last season. For a team that is 2-7 since sweeping the Tigers in May, this series couldn't be at a worse time.
As patient as I have been with this team throughout their early season struggles, I want a sweep. Badly. The Indians are in a tailspin right now, providing a perfect opportunity for the Tigers to get some momentum heading into interleague play. That, and they're the Indians. Jimenez has been downright awful at Comerica Park and I don't see him magically snapping out of that tonight, especially given how his season has gone. If Smyly can get through another 6 innings while giving up 3-4 runs, I like our chances.
I don't know any other way to say it: the Tigers win big.