July 21, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson (14) hits a two-RBI double during the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
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This is a very important series for the Indians, as it represents an opportunity to pull themselves back into the division race, or perhaps it represents the threat of ending their season. The Indians and Tigers will be facing off 12 more times between now and the end of the season, but if the Indians get swept here, the other 9 meetings probably won't mean much.
Team in a Box (click to enlarge)
The Tigers have underachieved a bit on the offensive side, but they've gotten hot of late, hitting .286/.356/.472, and now that they've plugged a hole at second with the acquisition of Infante, they'll lose the automatic out at the bottom of the lineup. The pitching staff has been middle-of-the-road, though that has a lot to do with their awful infield defense. They have, however, improved their outfield range by moving Delmon Young to his natural position of Designated Hitter.
|2B||Omar Infante (MIA)||.287||.312||.442||347|
The Tigers acquired Omar Infante from the Marlins yesterday, so I'm sure where he'll bat in the order, but regardless of where he hits, the Tigers will be much better off than the combination of Ramon Santiago (62 OPS+), Danny Worth (63) and Ryan Raburn (32) they had been running out there.
Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, and Delmon Young aren't having the season they had a year ago, but their top four hitters are among the best in baseball, with Austin Jackson having a breakout season and the Cabrera/Fielder combination hitting as expected.
|July 24||Doug Fister||4.04||75.2||7.9||2.0||9.3|
|July 25||Max Scherzer||4.61||109.1||11.0||3.2||9.4|
|July 26||Justin Verlander||2.42||148.2||8.6||2.1||6.2|
Hey look, Justin Verlander! The Indians won't be facing newly-acquired Anibal Sanchez, but they will be facing Doug Fister and Verlander, both of whom dominated the Indians last year. Fister hasn't faced the Indians yet this year, as he was injured while the two previous series were being played, but he's coming off two outstanding starts against Baltimore (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) and LA (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER). Justin Verlander had an off outing in his last start; he allowed 2 earned runs and only struck out 6 against the White Sox.
Valverde isn't having quite the season he had a year ago; he's already blown four save opportunities. Benoit has been Detroit's best reliever this year, although he has given up 7 home runs, and amazingly high total for an otherwise good late-inning reliever.
On the Shelf
- RHP Doug Fister (chest) - day-to-day
- RHP Jose Valverde (back) - day-to-day
- LHP Al Albuquerque (elbow) - 60-day DL
- OF Andy Dirks (achilles) - 15-day DL
- RHP Drew Smyly (ribcage muscle) - 15-day DL
- LHP Daniel Schlereth (shoulder) - 60-day DL
- C Victor Martinez (knee) - 60-day DL
Both Fister and Valverde are apparently ready to go for tonight's game. Dirks, who played well in the early part of the season, may come off the DL this week, as he appeared in a rehab assignment on Sunday.
|Record since 2001||109-100 (.522)|
|Pythagorean Win %||.495|