The improving teams begin interleague play with a three-game series at Comerica Park and Tigers manager Alan Trammell likes what he sees from the new-look Diamondbacks.
“They’re really a different team now,” Trammell said. “Look at what (Troy) Glaus is doing for them. They’ve got (Shawn) Green. They’ve got (Javier) Vazquez. (Royce) Clayton is a major league infielder. (Craig) Counsell’s back. Luis Gonzalez is back. They have guys that are veterans. They’re doing a good job for them.”
Detroit went 43-119 in 2003 before a respectable 72-90 finish last year. Arizona is on an even greater pace of improvement at 25-17 after going 51-111 in 2004.
Glaus and Green have given Arizona a presence in the middle of the lineup. Glaus has team highs of 12 homers and 32 RBIs and Green is third on the team with 23 runs scored.
While Vazquez has bounced back from a rough beginning to pitch well over his last six outings, Brandon Webb’s resurgence has been a major key to the Diamondbacks’ success. Webb went 7-16 a year ago and is two wins shy of matching that total as he tries to remain unbeaten on Friday.
Webb improved to 5-0 after allowing four runs and nine hits over eight innings in a 10-4 win at Colorado last Saturday. He got 14 outs on groundballs and credited his defense.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Webb said. “It’s been a lifesaver a few times for me, for sure. I’m able to be more aggressive with my pitches knowing that they’re going to be able to get out there and make the plays.”
The 26-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 1.06 ERA in two career starts against Detroit. Webb is bidding to become the first Diamondback to open 6-0 since Randy Johnson in 2002.
Gonzalez homered and Brad Halsey pitched seven effective innings as Arizona posted a 6-1 win at Houston on Thursday. The Diamondbacks are 5-2 on a 10-game road trip.
Detroit lost for only the fourth time in 11 games, 6-2 to Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Tigers missed a chance to move over .500 for the first time since April 29.
“We had a shot to sweep and get over .500 and we didn’t look like there was any urgency, so that’s disappointing,” Trammell said.
The Tigers started Mike Maroth on Thursday in place of Jeremy Bonderman, who will take the hill Friday. Trammell made the decision to give Bonderman an extra day of rest because the pitcher said his arm “was a little dead.”
“They wanted to give me an extra day,” Bonderman said. “I really didn’t want it, but they have the final say on it. It really doesn’t hurt us since Mike’s going to stay on (his normal rest).”
Bonderman is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA over his last four starts. He did not receive a decision after allowing two runs and six hits over six innings in a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels last Saturday.
The Tigers are beginning a tough stretch of games with a road trip against the New York Yankees and Baltimore looming after the series with the Diamondbacks.
“We have a tough team coming in with Arizona, so we have to be ready,” Tigers designated hitter Rondell White said. “Our goal should really be to win every series. If we win every series, everything should take care of itself.”