The Red Sox will try to win their fifth straight game while the still-slumping Tigers look to avoid their fifth straight defeat on Tuesday, when the teams continue their four-game series at Comerica Park.
Boston’s road to matching the Los Angeles Angels for the best record in the AL hasn’t been a straight one. The Red Sox (21-13) had won 10 of 11 at one point — capped by a season-high six-game winning streak April 17-22—but they went on to lose their next five.
Now, they’ve won four straight and six of seven, including Monday’s 6-3 win in Detroit. Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz each homered as the Red Sox had at least 11 hits for the fourth consecutive game.
Lowell had his first two RBIs of the season and also doubled, going 3-for-5. The 2007 World Series MVP, who was on the disabled list from April 10-28 with a sprained left thumb, had been hitting just .204 entering Monday.
“I think I’m getting to the point that I’m used to the tape job on my hand,” Lowell said. “It feels like my right hand is so much stronger than my left hand gripping the bat, but tonight I saw the ball well.”
The Tigers didn’t once again, and their four-game losing streak is their longest since an 0-7 start. Detroit (14-19) seemed to have recovered after winning 12 of 17 through May 1—averaging 6.9 runs over that span—but they’ve totaled just 11 runs during their current slide.
They managed only five hits on Monday despite a revamped lineup. Detroit manager Jim Leyland shook things up after his team was swept at Minnesota, dropping Gary Sheffield to sixth in the order and moving the former designated hitter to left field.
Third baseman Carlos Guillen batted third and minor league call-up Matt Joyce was in the lineup after the team cut outfielder Jacque Jones, but the Tigers still couldn’t take advantage of eight walks in five innings by Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka.
“I don’t think you can expect some miracle to happen in one game or two games,” Leyland told his team’s official Web site. “I think this is something we’re going to try, because we want to exercise all our options to try to get a hitter going. We just didn’t do much when we got out there. We couldn’t get one hit (early) with the guys on.”
They had similar problems when they faced Tim Wakefield last month. Boston’s knuckleballer walked five in five innings on April 10, but still limited the Tigers to two runs and three hits in a 12-6 Red Sox victory.
Wakefield (2-1, 4.03 ERA) beat Nate Robertson in that game, and the two will face off again Tuesday.
Robertson (1-3, 6.82) gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings against the Red Sox—a line he’s gotten used to this season. Detroit’s left-hander has allowed either four or five runs and between six and eight in each of his six starts, pitching six innings or better just twice.
He has a 6.46 career ERA in eight starts against Boston, but Ortiz is just 3-for-22 (.136) with seven strikeouts against him.