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Game 79 Preview: Tigers at Rays

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CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 10: Drew Smyly #33 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 10, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 10: Drew Smyly #33 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 10, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Detroit Tigers (38-40) at Tampa Bay Rays (41-37)

Time/Place: 1:30 p.m., Tropicana Field

SB Nation Blog: DRaysBay

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

Pitching Matchup: Drew Smyly (2-3, 4.48 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (3-4, 4.73 ERA)

It's not very often that you see a pitcher give up 8 runs on 13 hits yet still throw a complete game, but that is what happened to Alex Cobb in his last start against the Kansas City Royals. The 24 year old righthander gave up 5 runs in the 3rd inning alone, but Joe Maddon stuck with Cobb through the rest of the game. Other than a brilliant effort against the Miami Marlins, Cobb had a rough June, going 1-3 with a 5.34 ERA. However, he still logged an outstanding 28 2/3 innings in those four June starts. Knocking him out early probably won't happen today.

Smyly -- whose first name is actually Todd, by the way -- has struggled as of late. Excluding his blister-shortened start against the Cincinnati Reds, Smyly hasn't given up fewer than four runs in a start since May 9th against the Seattle Mariners. He hasn't been completely shelled either, but his struggles to get through 5 innings have put a strain on the bullpen. I am OK with Smyly having an ERA in the mid 4's, but it would be nice to get another inning or two out of him every once in a while. The funny faces when he pitches (as you see in the picture above) can also continue.

Outlook

With a series split already in hand, today is a great day to get greedy. If the Tigers win today, they will head home with a 5-5 record on this road trip and another chance to get back to .500 on Monday. The real work begins once they get home though, where they are a meager 17-18 on the year. Win or lose, I would like to see this recent trend of scoring early become a regular thing. Scoreless innings from Jose Valverde are also welcome at any time.

Prediction

Smyly continues his downward spiral today, leading to Jacob Turner getting another spot start before the All-Star Break.