After being swept for just the second time this season, the Detroit Tigers look to end their longest losing streak of the year when they open a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Monday.
The Tigers (76-41) have lost a season-high five straight and watched their lead in the AL Central dwindle from a season-high 10 games last Monday to just 5 1/2 games following Sunday’s 7-3 loss to the second-place Chicago White Sox, who are the only team to sweep the Tigers this season.
“We need to refocus again and try to do the things that we did the last couple of weeks,” said Detroit catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was ejected in the eighth inning on Sunday after arguing with home plate umpire Tim Timmons.
The Tigers committed six errors during the three-game series, leading to five unearned runs.
“We got what we deserved this weekend,” manager Jim Leyland said.
While Leyland said the sloppy play isn’t the reason he is planning to shuffle his lineup—sitting Placido Polanco on Monday and likely Brandon Inge at some point during the series—he doesn’t want his team to wear down. After facing Boston, the Tigers still have series remaining against the White Sox and the AL East-leading New York Yankees this month.
“I love it when star players want to play,” Leyland said. “But at some point, you realize it’s an uphill battle.”
On Monday, the Tigers will hand the ball to Nate Robertson (10-8, 3.82 ERA), who has lost his last two starts and five of seven. He pitched seven solid innings Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, allowing three runs, but got charged with the loss in a 4-2 defeat.
“Seven innings, three runs against that team. Pretty good. Not enough,” said Robertson, who is 0-2 with a 7.33 ERA in four career starts against the Red Sox.
In Robertson’s only appearance at Fenway in 2005, he allowed eight runs in 5 2-3 innings of an 11-3 loss.
The Red Sox (68-48) will counter with Josh Beckett (13-6, 4.92), who makes his fourth attempt to reach 14 wins for the season. The right-hander is 0-1 in his last three starts and did not receive a decision last Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals. Beckett pitched six innings, allowing three runs while striking out five in the 5-4 loss.
He has never faced the Tigers.
The Red Sox swept the Baltimore Orioles and moved within one game of the Yankees for the AL East lead with a 11-9 win on Sunday. Mike Lowell hit a grand slam in the first inning and Kevin Youkilis added a three-run shot in the seventh.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon survived a scare after Baltimore scored two runs in the ninth inning, one of them on a bases-loaded walk. He forced Melvin Mora to ground out for his 31st save in 36 opportunities.
“We just swept the Orioles. How can I have a bad taste in my mouth?” Papelbon said. “It’s just one of those games where you have to keep grinding and just find a way to get through it.”
Manny Ramirez went 0-for-3, ending a 27-game hitting streak.
Boston won two of three games when the teams met in June at Comerica Park.