Last July 16 the Tigers, in a virtual tie for first with Minnesota, came out of the all-star break on a 3-day trip to Cleveland, were swept, and never came near first again. And Detroit hasn’t won at Cleveland since.
During this Cleveland trip Detroit has seen its Central lead slip from 4 to 2, with one more game left at Progressive field. Could this be a deja-vu sweep, and if so can the Tigers recover?
One doesn’t have to go far for a bit of optimism. Because…Justin Verlander. (Of course last year’s series featured a Verlander start also–he gave up 3 in the 1st inning and lost. But that wasn’t 2011 Verlander). Feeling pessimistic? Verlander’s career record in Cleveland: 4-8, 6.31. An interesting matchup will be Verlander vs rookie 2B Jason Kipnis, who has never faced him. Kipnis went 5-5 last night and is hitting .364 over his last 10 games. Tiger fans gaze out to 2nd with a sigh of envy…
Facing Verlander will be Fausto Carmona, perhaps best known to Detroit fans as the guy who played a knuckle tune on Gary Sheffield’s head. Carmona is having a lackluster 5-11, 5.19 season.
Boesch will sit out the game with a sore thumb (no indication how much more time he will miss if any), which means we get to play Raburn Roulette in LF.
ESPN covers the Tigers today in its daily look at playoff contenders. Terry Foster says the Tigers will win the division–if Leyland changes the batting order. (Still, he can’t resist leaving Jackson in the leadoff spot).
Player of the Pre-game: Austin Jackson
He has already struck out 39 times this season leading off, nobody else comes close (27 is next highest). Add to that an OBP of a meager .267, and it may be time to try moving him elsewhere in the lineup.
Today’s Special K Lineup: