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Game 97 Preview: Tigers at Indians

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DETROIT, MI - JULY 18: Doug Fister #58 of the Detroit Tigers throws a first inning pitch while playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Comerica Park on July 18, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 18: Doug Fister #58 of the Detroit Tigers throws a first inning pitch while playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Comerica Park on July 18, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Detroit Tigers (52-44) at Cleveland Indians (48-48)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Progressive Field

SB Nation Blog: Let's Go Tribe

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Doug Fister (4-6, 4.04 ERA) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9, 5.24 ERA)

Since beating the Tigers on June 5th, Jimenez is 2-5 with a 5.13 ERA in 8 starts. He is still striking out hitters at a healthy clip, but the control issues haven't died down either. He has walked 24 batters and hit two more in his last 47 1/3 innings en route to an .835 OPS against him since he last saw the Tigers. Meanwhile, the Tigers offense has averaged 5 runs per game since that same date, including 42 home runs. For a guy as homer-prone as Jimenez has been this season, this is bad news.

Meanwhile, Doug Fister is dealing. I don't know what he did during the All-Star Break, but it worked. Get this: Fister has only allowed 5 hits in his last 15 innings. He has struck out 18 batters and walked two in that time frame. Fister has arguably been the most dominant Tigers pitcher since the break, picking up a couple of massive wins -- the first game in Baltimore and the 'W' following that 13-0 drubbing the Tigers took at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels. Seriously, you know things are going well when Justin Verlander pitches consecutive 8-inning gems and there's a legitimate debate as to whether he's your hottest pitcher at the moment.

There's a reason we don't like Ohio

Since 2010, the Tigers are a paltry 5-16 at Progressive Field. For whatever reason, this stadium has not been kind to the Tigers. I blame that stupid drum, but poor pitching and worse hitting are also in the conversation. Of course, the Tigers also went 10-2 against the Tribe last season in the 2nd half, including a 4-2 record in Cleveland. Sometimes, timing is everything, and the Tigers have that on their side this week. Justin Masterson, the only Indians pitcher who I would take over anyone on the Tigers staff right now, pitched yesterday and will not face Detroit this week. Meanwhile, Cleveland gets Fister, Max Scherzer, and Verlander. And you can be willing to bet that JV won't be taking it easy against an Indians squad that handed him that infuriating complete game loss on May 24th.

Outlook

While it's safe to say by now that the Tigers made the better deadline deal last year in terms of cost, value, and production, another dominant outing from Fister tonight will be the exclamation point. Not to mention, it's nice to have multiple guys pitching like bona-fide aces at the same time. For the offense, it's about continuing the momentum that they have built up over the past couple weeks. The All-Star Break couldn't slow them down, and I don't see the toxic air of Ohio (or the Indians mediocre pitching staff, for that matter) faring any better.

Prediction

6 in a row.