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Game 104 Preview: Tigers at Red Sox

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Jul 25, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett (19) throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
Jul 25, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett (19) throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers (54-49) at Boston Red Sox (52-51)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Fenway Park

SB Nation Blog: Over the Monster

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

Pitching Matchup: RHP Justin Verlander (11-6, 2.60 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (5-9, 4.57 ERA)

There's a slim chance that Beckett is no longer a member of the Red Sox by the time this game starts, but I wouldn't bank on that. He's been mentioned in recent trade rumors, but at this point Tokarz and I are probably the only two people left on the planet that haven't been mentioned in some sort of trade deadline rumor -- which is surprising because all anyone reads these posts for anyway are GWilson's comments. Besides, Beckett's contract is nearly as untradeable as Alfonso Soriano's at this point.

Anyway, Beckett is going through his typical even-year slump this season. Don't believe me? He has been markedly better in odd years dating all the way back to his cup-of-coffee with the Florida Marlins in September of 2001, and won a combined 50 games in 2007, 2009, and 2011. As you might imagine, his last few starts haven't been too great. In fact, he only has one win since May 20th. The Tigers have gotten to Beckett this year, hanging 11 earned runs on him in two starts (both Tiger victories).

I read a funny story in the Free Press the other day. It was a satire piece that suggested that Verlander was "cursed" because of his recent sightings with a certain blonde bikini model during the All-Star Break.

OK, sadly, this piece was not satire (which is why I didn't link it), and it makes me wonder whether people actually think that Verlander is struggling right now. That would be downright laughable. Even after his last outing, he still has a 2.25 ERA in the month of July. Will he rebound today? He hasn't been great at Fenway Park in his career, but his 5.83 career ERA at Progressive Field makes me believe that the Verlander we saw in the 7th inning last Thursday was nothing to be worried about.

Outlook

With as poorly as Beckett has performed this season -- especially against the Tigers -- we might not need to see JV at his very best in order to pull off a W. Of course, it's always fun to see Verlander go all John Connor on the opposing lineup. A blowout win would do everyone (except the Red Sox, of course) some good. Make it happen, Tigers.

Prediction

Lazy blogger alert: what is Verlander's record after losses in the past few seasons? Add another victory to that total.

Gameday Reading:

Josh Beckett And The Oddest Rumor Of The Deadline - Baseball Nation, Grant Brisbee
"There are exactly two reasons the Red Sox would want to trade Beckett right now. One, if they thought they could get a lot of value back for him. Two, if they want him the hell off their team."

David Ortiz sore, not likely to return to Boston Red Sox on Wednesday - ESPN Boston, Joe McDonald
"He's been on the disabled list with a right Achilles strain since July 18 and is eligible to be activated on Wednesday, which appears to be a long shot at this point."

Tigers Vacation to Boston, Discover Sights, Score Runs…Lose Baseball Game - Walkoff Woodward, Josh Worn
"In a way, we’ve come to the point in the year where there isn’t much to analyze, to be quite honest."