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