The Tampa Bay Rays take their talents to Detroit for a three game set starting Tuesday. Though Tampa Bay and Detroit have — essentially — the same W/L record, one thing bears mentioning: With a combined overall .279 BA/.346 OBP/.431 SLG/.778 slash line, the Tigers are a team that many would consider to be an offensive juggernaut. Their pitching staff isn’t too shabby either. That, however, isn’t to sell the Rays short.
Granted the Tigers are outscoring the Rays — when comparing Detroit at home and Tampa Bay on the road — by 157 runs, we’re all familiar by now with the Rays prolonged (and unexpected by most) offensive explosion of the last month plus. To that end, Tampa Bay is pretty evenly keeled with Detroit over the past 14 days. It should be noted that the Rays pitching has turned the corner by all accounts. I’d imagine the true test will be how Roberto Hernandez fares against Miggy and Prince Fielder Thursday.
Tampa Bay is 7-3 over a 10 game spread and again surging (editors side commentary, innit nice to say and hear such things?) while the Tigers have stagnated a bit, going 4-6 in the same span and losing five out of their last six. Whatever the case, this series promises to be an exciting one. Here’s to hope that Tampa Bay comes out on the winning side.
Anibal Sanchez: Per Rotowire, “Sanchez dropped to 5-5 on the year Wednesday, giving up five earned runs on seven hits over 6.2 innings against Pittsburgh.” Sanchez is 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA in five home starts, while going 1-1 with a 4.78 ERA in four career starts against Tampa Bay. The Rays hitters haven’t fared well against Sanchez, posting a paltry .207 BA/.288 OBP/.405 SLG/.693 OPS. There are a handful of Rays who have looked good against Anibal though, and it’d be splendid if they can tag him the way Pirates did on the 29th. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (6-24, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB), Matt Joyce (3-9, 2 3B, HR, 3 RBI), James Loney (3-7, 3B), Jose Molina (2-2).
Doug Fister: Per Rotowire, “Fister struck out a season-high 12 batters over seven scoreless innings Thursday, but recorded a no-decision at Pittsburgh. He scattered four hits and walked just one.” Fister has gone 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA against the Rays over the past three years. Don’t let his numbers fool you though, Tampa Bay has been able to touch him up in a limited number of at-bats. The current Rays have a combined .288 BA/.344 OBP/.407 SLG/.751 OPS slash line against Fister. Still, Fister is a tough customer. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (2-7, RBI, BB), Sam Fuld (3-5, 2B, BB), Desmond Jennings (1-3), Kelly Johnson (1-3), Luke Scott (3-8, 2 2B, RBI, BB), Ben Zobrist (5-14, 2B, 3 RBI).
Max Scherzer: Per Rotowire, “Scherzer was denied his eighth win of the season as the Tigers bullpen allowed Baltimore to come from behind for a 7-5 win Friday night.” Tampa Bay has had some success against Scherzer in recent years, however with a 3.04 ERA against the Rays since 2010, the runs against have not come easy. At 7-0 this season (you can see his stats above), the 28 year-old RHP has been particularly good. He’s given up four or more runs only four times this season, while averaging close to seven innings per start. Tampa Bay has posted a cumulative .240 BA/.310 OBP/.423 SLG/.733 slash line against in 104 total at-bats. Still, a handful of Rays have batted Scherzer around. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare Thursday. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (11-26, 3 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Kelly Johnson (4-13, 2 2B), James Loney (4-14, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB), Evan Longoria (2-8, HR, RBI, BB).
- Though Detroit averages 5.2 runs to lead the majors, Tampa Bay is not far behind at 5.0. The Rays have been even hotter with a major league-best 6.1 runs per game since May 17 while winning 11 of 16.
- Even though James Loney and Evan Longoria are both batting lower than .255 in this stretch, Matt Joyce is hitting .340 and Kelly Johnson .321 with that duo combining for 28 RBIs over the last 16 games.
- Detroit, on the other hand, is searching for offense after losing five of six. Outside of Saturday’s 10-3 victory in Baltimore, the Tigers have scored 10 runs in that span. Furthermore, Detroit leads the overall series 57-53, while going 29-25 at home.
- Detroit is 10-3 against Tampa Bay over the last two seasons. Miguel Cabrera is hitting .364 with 11 walks in the same span of time. Gee, I wonder why he has so many walks?
- Miguel Cabrera is first in the AL in average (.367) and RBIs (65) and second in homers (17). I’d reckon his .442 OBP isn’t too bad either.
- Per Joe Smith of the Times, “DH Luke Scott has been a Tiger-killer, hitting .308 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs in 24 career games.”
- After a non-decision and a rain delay, Matt Moore will once again get the opportunity to reach the 9-0 plateau. Third time’s a charm, right?!