Tampa Bay (70-59) at Detroit (69-60)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Detroit, MI
Temp: 30° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Mon Aug 31, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Detroit Tigers have stayed atop the AL Central thanks in large part to their play at home this season.

The Tigers, however, need a victory in Monday’s finale against the Tampa Bay Rays to clinch their sixth straight series win at Comerica Park.

Detroit (69-60) has held sole possession of first place in its division since May 16 and lead Minnesota by 4 1/2 games coming in. The Tigers’ 42 home wins this season are tied for third in the AL with Tampa Bay (70-59) and trail only New York and Boston’s 45.

The Tigers’ 42-21 home mark is their best since 1971 and has them closing in on a second postseason trip in four years. They’ve especially shined lately by going 27-10 there since a season-high six-game slide from May 23-June 5.

“This is a different ballclub than 2006 (when they went to the World Series), but there’s a lot of good karma and good guys just like we had,” said Justin Verlander(notes), who notched his 15th win with a 4-3 victory Sunday. “It’s a very similar-type feeling and obviously, that was a fun year.”

The Tigers had four hits until the eighth inning, when Clete Thomas(notes) hit a leadoff double. After Curtis Granderson(notes) walked, Placido Polanco(notes) followed with a three-run homer.

Detroit’s pitchers, though, have played the more pivotal role in its run at home. The Tigers have an AL-best 3.57 ERA at Comerica Park and opposing teams are batting a league-low .238 against them this season.

Detroit has also allowed opponents to hit .175 with runners in scoring position in the past 16 overall games.

Jarrod Washburn(notes) (9-7, 3.23 ERA) will take the mound for the Tigers in the finale, and the left-hander has a good chance to continue those trends as he faces the team he’s beaten the most in his career.

Washburn is 12-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 career starts against the Rays. He added to that win total on April 21 as he allowed two runs over seven innings in a 4-2 home victory for Seattle.

Washburn, however, hasn’t experienced much success being traded on July 31, going 1-1 with a 4.93 ERA in six starts. He earned his first victory with the Tigers on Tuesday in Los Angeles as he gave up three runs over six innings in a 5-3 win.

The Rays will counter with James Shields(notes) (8-10, 3.81) as they try to keep from falling further back in the wild card race. Tampa Bay is six games behind division rival Boston in those standings and fell to 3-3 on its seven-game road trip.

“We can’t afford to lose games like the one we lost (Sunday),” outfielder Carl Crawford(notes) said. “We’re getting close to the line where we are going to be eliminated.”

Shields is trying to win three straight road starts for the first time in his career. He is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two outings in Detroit, but hasn’t faced the Tigers this season.

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in four overall matchups versus Detroit.

The Tigers are 13-12 against the Rays since 2006, winning 10 of 15 at home.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Shields SD vs. J. Washburn Det
11-12 Record 9-9
4.14 ERA 3.78
167 K 100
52 BB 49
1.32 WHIP 1.19


Monday, Aug 31