Red Sox – Tigers preview: Boston at critical stage in Detroit
As has been confirmed during the past three tumultuous weeks of the season for the Red Sox, it is absolutely impossible to determine what direction this team is going. There were 10 losses in a row, followed by seven wins, followed by three losses. Is this just the beginning of another lengthy losing streak or is this just the latest punch in the mouth the Sox needed as some sort of proverbial wake-up call?
This weekend’s series in Detroit against the AL Central leading Tigers (31-24) will be mighty telling. The Tigers were the team that sent the Red Sox (27-32) reeling in the first place, sweeping a weekend series at Fenway from May 16-18. Boston’s bats were ice-cold against Detroit in mid-May, as the Sox scored a grand total of three runs through the entire series. Max Scherzer outdueled Jon Lester on a Friday night, limiting the Sox to just three hits. Rick Porcello went eight innings, allowing just six Sox hits that Saturday and Anibal Sanchez, with help from the Tigers’ bullpen, shut down the Sox lineup again on that Sunday night to the tune of six hits and one run.
The good news for the Sox is that they will miss Justin Verlander again. The bad news is that they will once again see Scherzer (6-2, 3.20 ERA) and Sanchez (2-2, 2.15 ERA) on Saturday (7:15 p.m., FOX) and Sunday (8 p.m., ESPN), respectively. Detroit’s Drew Smyly (2-4, 4.10 ERA) will take the hill in the Friday opener as the Sox will counter with Rubby De La Rosa (1-0, 0.00 ERA). De La Rosa was tremendous against the Rays in his only start this season on May 31 as he gave up just four hits and struck out eight in seven strong innings.
Even if De La Rosa is again strong, the Sox surely have to solve their issues at the plate ASAP. Dustin Pedroia, David Ross, Stephen Drew, Daniel Nava and Jackie Bradley Jr. each stuck out twice in Wednesday’s crushing, extra innings loss to Cleveland. Aside from Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz of late, the Sox have not had any consistency at the plate. Boston ranks just 17th in all of baseball in runs scored on the season (240).
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS