The Detroit Tigers began the week riding a six-game winning streak. Now, they’ll head into the weekend trying to avoid their longest losing stretch of the season.
Detroit (75-65) has played some of its best baseball of the season when it mattered, winning 16 of 23 before inexplicably getting swept in a three-game set at last-place Kansas City this week, then falling 6-4 to Toronto on Friday in the opener of a seven-game homestand.
Though the Tigers have a 5 1/2-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central, manager Jim Leyland still would like to see his club play with a sense of urgency.
“Maybe we’re looking at the scoreboard, but we should be looking at something else,” said Leyland, whose team has a 6.82 ERA during the skid. “I think guys are a little too casual around here. They need to step it up. We need to play better, pitch better, hit better and shut some people down.”
Leyland hopes Jackson can do just that in this contest as the right-hander tries to win his third consecutive start for the Tigers.
Jackson (12-6, 3.10 ERA) allowed three runs in eight innings of a 5-3 win against his former Tampa Bay team on Sunday. Jackson is 5-1 with a 4.47 ERA in his last nine starts.
He’s 2-3 with a 3.61 ERA in 10 games against Toronto, but is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his last three outings versus the Blue Jays. He gave up one earned run in 7 1-3 innings, but didn’t earn a decision in a 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays on April 7.
Hill is 7 for 12 in his last three games and batting .364 with six RBIs against the Tigers this year.
The right-hander allowed six runs in six innings of a 6-3 loss to Minnesota on Monday. Richmond, who spent most of July on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, fell to 0-5 with a 6.92 ERA in his last seven starts since beating Cincinnati on June 24.
“My arm feels fine,” Richmond told the Blue Jays’ official Web site. “It’s nothing to do with injury, it’s just poor location, plain and simple.”