While the Detroit Tigers are doing their best to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the AL Central, the Tampa Bay Rays aren’t doing much to help their seemingly slim postseason chances.
The first-place Tigers look for a fifth straight victory as they continue their series with the struggling Rays on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
Adam Everett(notes) hit a tiebreaking RBI single during a three-run ninth, and Detroit (73-61) held on for a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay in Friday’s series opener to snap a four-game losing streak at Tropicana Field.
The Tigers, who’ve won their last four games by a combined seven runs, have a six-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central.
Tampa Bay (72-62), meanwhile, has lost six of nine and is six games behind the wild-card leading Boston Red Sox.
Detroit is 3-2 against Tampa Bay. The teams split a four-game set at Comerica Park last weekend.
Evan Longoria(notes) drove in two runs and gave the Rays a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the second inning. Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera(notes) tied the game with his 28th homer in the sixth inning before the Tigers rallied against closer J.P. Howell(notes) in the ninth.
“You want to quit and scream, but there’s tomorrow, too,” said Howell, who is 1-3 with a 6.42 ERA in his last 14 outings. “There’s another opportunity tomorrow for you to improve.”
Detroit closer Fernando Rodney(notes) threw 35 pitches and allowed two runs in the bottom of ninth, but recorded his 32nd save and then fired the game ball in the stands as part of his postgame celebration.
“I think he was a little more sluggish than normal,” Leyland said of Rodney. “I’m going to give him a day off for sure. He deserves it.”
Cabrera, meanwhile, is batting .438 in his last five games and .385 with a homer against Tampa Bay’s scheduled starter James Shields(notes) (9-10, 3.86 ERA), who’ll try to beat Detroit for the second time in six days.
Shields, who’s looking to win his third straight start, is 3-0 with a 2.97 ERA in five starts against the Tigers. Despite giving up five runs and 10 hits in seven innings, he earned the victory in an 11-7 win at Detroit on Monday.
The Tigers send Armando Galarraga(notes) (6-10, 5.05) to the mound after missing his last scheduled start due to inflammation in his right elbow. Galarraga will make the start while Jarrod Washburn’s(notes) turn in the rotation is skipped because of a sore knee.
In his last start on Aug. 22, Galarraga allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings, but didn’t receive a decision in a 3-2 loss at Oakland. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.68 in two starts against Tampa Bay.
Longoria is 2 for 5 with a homer versus Galarraga, and 11 for 22 with six RBIs in his last five contests.