The Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays begin a four game series at Comerica Park on Thursday night, July 3rd.
Detroit has won 11 of their last 13 games and hit the seasons half way mark 13 games above .500. The Tigers have scoured four or more runs in their last 10 outings and have won nine of their last 10 games when doing so.
Miguel Cabrera has 10 hits in as many games and Ian Kinsler has 18 hits in his last 10 games. The Tigers pitchers have the 22nd best ERA at 4.00. Max Scherzer gets the start on Thursday. He’s 9-3 with a 3.64 ERA and has 132 strikeouts in 111.1 innings this year. Scherzer is 3-2 with a 2.87 ERA in six career starts against the Rays.
Fresh on everyone’s mind however, is the fact that Mad Max surrendered a career high-tying 10 runs over four-plus innings in an 11-4 defeat to Kansas City on June 17.
The right-hander beat Cleveland 10-4 on June 22 behind six innings of one-run ball, then struck out a season-high 13 over seven innings of two-run ball in Saturday’s 4-3 victory at Houston.
Scherzer will try to slow down a Rays team that’s won seven of eight, including five straight following a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium. Sean Rodriguez went 2 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs in Wednesday’s 6-3 victory.
The Rays have won seven of their last eight games and are looking to finish the first half of the season even stronger.
Their pitching has allowed three or fewer runs in five of their last eight games, while the offense produced 12 runs in a three-game sweep over the New York Yankees.
“We’re getting a different bus driver on a daily basis, that’s kind of neat,” manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s who we have to be. We’re not necessarily built around one guy. We’re built as group. Everybody’s got to do their job.”
Erik Bedard (4-5, 4.21) takes the mound for Tampa Bay looking to build on his longest performance of the year. The veteran left-hander allowed three runs and struck out seven over seven-plus innings Saturday, earning the win in a 5-4 victory at Baltimore.
This marks his first start against the Tigers since 2011. He made one relief appearance against them with Houston last year, yielding one run over 3 1-3 innings.
The Rays are 4-1 in Bedards last 5 starts and 1-4 in their last 5 vs. American League Central. The Tigers are 40-11 in Scherzers last 51 home starts and 10-4 in Scherzers last 14 starts vs. American League East. The Rays are 2-8 in the last 10 meetings in Detroit.
Though playing at home, this will be a tough series for the Tigers. The Rays are playing sound baseball as of late.
What could give the Tigers the edge needed is the return of Victor Martinez. V-Mart missed the last three games with soreness in his left side. He leads the team with 20 homers and ranks among the AL leaders with a .323 average. Martinez is a career .364 hitter against Tampa Bay, his highest mark against any AL club.