Jon Lester and Max Scherzer were complete mysteries to opposing lineups when they met at Fenway Park in mid-May during the previous series between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. Saturday night in Detroit? Not so much.
The Tigers rolled out to an early lead in Game 2, then held on as the Red Sox tried to put together a late rally that fell short in Detroit's 8-6 win. The setback was Boston's 5th-straight to begin a 9-game road trip while the win was the 2nd-straight for the Tigers who just finished a 5-game losing streak of their own.
The two old foes wrap things up Sunday evening with another prime-time broadcast as ESPN's cameras start rolling at 8 PM (ET). The initial mound battle pits Boston's John Lackey opposite Anibal Sanchez, and the Tigers are fetching a chalk price around -150 with 7.5 for the total on the MLB odds board.
Will Offenses Support
Either Pitcher In Game 2?
Lackey has suffered lately from a lack of offense, the Red Sox scoring 14 runs over his last six starts and Boston standing 204 in those contests. That stretch includes a matchup with the Tigers at Fenway Park on May 17 when Lackey also suffered from allowing the Detroit lineup too much offense (5.1 IP, 9 Hits, 6 Runs).
The wins may not be there, but Sanchez has otherwise pitched well enough to qualify as a staff ace. Like Lackey, the Venezuelan has also been the victim of poor support as well as late bullpen collapses; only one run has been charged to his ledger the last two times he took the mound, but the Tigers lost both of those games to fellow AL division leaders Oakland and Toronto.
Sanchez has faced the Red Sox three times since coming to Detroit in the July 2012 deal from Miami, one of those starts a win in Boston on May 18 and the other two split decisions during the 2013 ALCS. His only previous experience against the BoSox came in a long relief outing during his 2006 rookie season.
Umpire Notes, Mother
Nature & A Free Pick
Three of Adam Hamari's last four plate assignments failed to reach the total, leaving the sophomore umpire 4-6-2 (O/U/P) on the season. This will be his first look from behind the mask at Comerica Park, and home favorites are 4-4 in 2014.
Rain will fall in Motown this morning and linger into the afternoon, but the weatherman promises it will move out of the area by first pitch this evening. The game should play out with temps mostly in the upper-60s along with a N/NE breeze in the 8-10 mph range (out to right, right-center).
Well folks, it looks like SBR is going to force me to take a short vacation while site maintenance is going on, so let's see if we can't come up with a winner for our free pick to help tide us over the next week or two. The book says to follow the current Red Sox losing streak with another fade on Boston, and that's exactly the direction I'm heading with a run line play on Detroit.
My Pick: Tigers -1.5 (+150)
Season: 60-55 (+4.40)