The Detroit Tigers didn’t look like the best team in the AL Central this weekend. A matchup with the last-place Tampa Bay Devil Rays should provide them with an opportunity to regain their confidence.
The Tigers hope to avoid a season-high fourth straight loss Monday night when they open a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Detroit (29-20) had a chance to put some distance between itself and Cleveland in the Central, as it had a one-half game lead when the weekend series at Comerica Park began. The Tigers, though, were swept for the first time this season, dropping them 2 1/2 games behind the surging Indians.
“It doesn’t bother me a bit. It’s May,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “They’ve got a good team and we’ve got a good team.”
Mike Maroth surrendered four first-inning runs and Detroit never recovered in a 5-3 loss Sunday night.
The three-game skid matches a season high for the Tigers, who haven’t dropped four in a row since closing last year’s regular season with five consecutive losses.
Second baseman Placido Polanco is expected to be back in the Tigers’ lineup for this game.
Polanco sat out Sunday after he suffered a strained oblique in the previous contest. He is hitting .326 with a homer and 26 RBIs, and his .447 average with runners in scoring position ranks second in the AL behind the Yankees’ Derek Jeter (.465).
Chad Durbin (4-1, 4.74 ERA) tries to win his fifth straight decision for Detroit. After struggling in his first three starts, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.53 ERA in his past six outings. Durbin wasn’t at his best Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels, but did earn the win after allowing three runs and eight hits in five-plus innings.
Durbin, who is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in three career starts against the Devil Rays, will be making his first appearance at Tampa Bay.
The Devil Rays (20-28) may be last in the AL East, but they are only two games behind second-place Baltimore.
Tampa Bay scored nine runs in the final four innings and matched a season high with 15 hits Sunday in an 11-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The teams split two games at Chicago in a series shortened by a Saturday rainout.
Of the Devil Rays’ 20 victories, 17 have been of the come-from-behind variety. The 17 comeback wins are tied with the Boston Red Sox for the most in the majors
“I am extremely excited about what’s going on here,” first baseman Carlos Pena said. “I think that the future’s bright. We have a lot of talent and they’re so incredibly young.”
Akinori Iwamura is scheduled to return for Tampa Bay after he missed more than a month with a strained muscle in his side. The Japanese rookie third baseman was batting .339 with 15 runs scored in 18 games before his injury.
Edwin Jackson (0-6, 7.78) makes his first appearance since May 18 for the Devil Rays. The struggling right-hander had his turn initially pushed back, and was then bypassed another day after Saturday’s rainout.
Jackson failed to make it into the fourth inning for the third time this season in an 8-4 loss at Florida his last time out. He allowed seven runs and seven hits with three walks in 2 2-3 innings.
Jackson worked two scoreless innings in relief last Aug. 1 in his only career appearance against Detroit.