Coming off a tough loss on Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals, the Detroit Tigers will try to turn it around over the weekend against a team they recently swept on the road, the Boston Red Sox.
As you may remember, Boston's President of Baseball Operations -- a fellow named David Dombrowski -- recently asked the Tigers to skooch their day game back to a night game, as Boston's schedule had them playing a night game on Wednesday in Baltimore. The Tigers politely (in my mind, anyway) declined that request. I'm currently looking at a published Tigers schedule, which was made public sometime in late 2015, which clearly states the game times; it's not like this was a secret. So, why wait so late to ask for the ol' switcheroo? Veteran Dombrowski gamesmanship, perhaps.
This will be the second and final time Boston and Detroit meet during the regular season; on July 25-27, Detroit swept the three-game away series, including a back-and-forth 9-8 thriller in the middle game. (The winning run was scored by an always-exciting bases-loaded walk, to Tyler Collins.) Here's hoping the Tigers can bring some of that magic back to Motown this weekend.
Boston Red Sox (67-52) at Detroit Tigers (63-57)
Time/Place: 1:10pm EDT, Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Over the Monster
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB Network, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching matchup: Clay Buchholz (4-9, 5.66 ERA) vs. Matt Boyd (4-2, 4.16 ERA)
Clay Buchholz's season has been up-and-down, but mostly down. After starting the season for two months in the rotation, and accruing an ERA of 6.35 whilst there, he has been mostly relegated to bullpen duty since then, occasionally making starts here and there. Overall as a starter this year, he's had a horrendous ERA of 6.30 and WHIP of 1.51; in the bullpen he's been much better, at 3.20/1.02. But, Buchholz is starting here, so we have to wonder which pitcher will show up.
Matt Boyd, on the other hand, has been solid lately. His last start was a crisp outing against the Texas Rangers to the tune of seven innings, two hits and no runs, in an efficient 99 pitches. Since a nasty outing in mid-June against the Royals, Boyd has made six starts (plus an inning in the long Mariners game), with a 2.16 ERA in 33 1/3 innings, an OPS against of .646, and a 1.02 WHIP. Not too shabby.
The Tigers' offence, though... yikes. Three games against the Royals netted them a whopping three runs, all on solo dingers. Maybe the Tigers' bats need hats, Pedro Cerrano-style. Keep bats warrrrrrm. Gracias.
Hitter to fear: n/a
Hitter to fail: n/a
Again, I'm not shirking fear/fail duties because I don't wanna; it's just that Boyd has only faced Boston once in his career, and only four current Red Sox (Soxes? Soxs? Socks?) have ever faced him. I will say, however, that everyone on the roster who has faced him -- Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt and David Ortiz -- have all gone 1-for-1 against him, with Ortiz's hit being a three-run home run. But that was Boyd's second-ever start (and last with Toronto), where he didn't even make it out of the first inning; heck, he faced seven batters and didn't retire any of them.
To give you something to mull over, then... out of Detroit's hitters, the person who has faced Buchholz the most is, you guessed it, Erick Aybar. In 36 plate appearances, Aybar has five singles and four whiffs to show for his efforts, for a .139 BA. Miguel Cabrera has faced him 32 times and has gone 7-for-28 (with 4 BB), including two doubles and a dinger, so that's nice, I suppose.
Detroit dropped a tough one last night, no doubt about it. And, Boston's case wasn't helped out a whole lot in Baltimore, as rain shortened their game to six innings, but that doesn't mean they could just split from Camden Yards after the last out of the sixth and hit the airport. On the other hand, Boston has won six straight and seven of their last ten, and are a slim, single game behind Toronto in the AL East. Boston is currently sitting in the top Wild Card spot; Detroit is 3.5 games back of Baltimore for the second Wild Card.
We've seen starting pitchers feed off each other in the past; Anibal Sanchez turned in a magnificent effort on Wednesday night against the Royals. Will this propel Boyd to a second stellar start in a row?
My magic 8-ball says that Boyd indeed does have another great start. Buchholz gets cuffed-around as the Tiger bats finally wake up.