Game 2102.4: Rays at Tigers

With the first round of MLB series in the books, the two hottest teams in baseball meet in Detroit for a 3-game series.  The Tigers swept their opening series with the Red Sox and the Rays swept the Yankees, only the 2nd time the Yankees and Red Sox were simultaneously swept in their opening series. This will be the first time an opening series Soxsweeper meets an opening series Yanksweeper.

This series will also feature a matchup of the early edition two hottest hitters in baseball. Sorry Miguel, but that would be Evan Longoria and Austin Jackson. Longoria merely bashed the Yankee pitching for a 1.792 OPS, reaching base at a ridiculous .692 clip.  Jackson was almost as good, with a .625 OBP and 1.482 OPS.

One of the stories of spring training was Austin Jackson’s new swing, which was designed to cut down on strikeouts, but didn’t seem to be having a great effect.  But that was spring training, which doesn’t always predict future performance (see Raburn, Ryan).  Was kidding a bit about leaving Cabrera out of the hottest hitters discussion, but if Jackson can improve his OBP significantly from last season (a thin .317), it may end up being the story of the year in Detroit.

Rick Porcello takes the mound today to take his shot at Best Pitcher on the Team Not Named Verlander.  I won’t trot out the stats about how Porcello has fared with different game time temperatures again, since it’s cold and windy in Detroit, and…well, the Tigers score a lot of runs anyway.  The Rays counter with Matt Moore, who is younger than Porcello, and has never faced Detroit–in fact he has had a 9-inning pro career so far.  Look for a some heat (97) and a good curve.

And if it comes down to it, look for old crooked-hat himself to come in to close out the game:  ex-Tiger Fernando Rodney has replaced ex-Tiger Kyle Farnsworth as the TB closer.

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Meanwhile Adam Wilk gets the surprise nod to take Doug Fister’s spot in  Saturday’s game against the White Sox. (Well, technically, Scherzer is moving up from Saturday to Friday to take Fister’s spot). And let the Inge watch begin: Inge is starting a rehab assignment in Toledo today, in the lineup as a…DH).

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Today’s Player of the Pregame:  Ryan Raburn

As DH, Raburn will be ineligible to be anyone’s defensive replacement.  Sunday Raburn played 2B like a DH, and LF like a DH. Today he gets to DH.

Today’s totally sick lineup (Santiago was scratched with bug, Leyland has it also):

  1. Austin Jackson CF
  2. Brennan Boesch RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera 3B
  4. Prince Fielder 1B
  5. Delmon Young LF
  6. Ryan Raburn DH
  7. Jhonny Peralta SS
  8. Gerald Laird C
  9. Danny Worth 2B