Tampa Bay (26-21) at Detroit (23-23)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Detroit, MI
Temp: 81° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon May 23, 2011
  • TV: SUN, FSD
Preview | Box Score | Recap

As the Tampa Bay Rays ended their longest losing streak in more than six weeks, the Detroit Tigers also just halted a lengthy skid.

Only one of these clubs can build some momentum Monday night at Comerica Park, where they’ll meet for the first time this season.

After Rays starters posted a 5.70 ERA during a 2-6 skid, James Shields(notes) threw a three-hitter Sunday as Tampa Bay (26-21) defeated Florida 4-0 to snap a three-game losing streak. It was the Rays’ longest winless stretch since opening a franchise-worst 0-6.

“My job is to come in and get this shut down,” Shields said after matching a club record with 13 strikeouts. “Now we can go to Detroit and get some wins.”

The Tigers (23-23) will look to do the same as they open a 10-game homestand.

“We’re back to .500 and hopefully we’ll get on a positive roll,” manager Jim Leyland said after Detroit snapped a five-game slide Sunday with a 2-0 win over Pittsburgh. “Our starting pitching has been good and we’ve got to give them some help.”

The Tigers, who have scored 10 runs in their last six contests, could struggle early against Jeremy Hellickson(notes) (5-2, 3.18 ERA) on Monday. The right-hander has won a career-high four consecutive starts, and he’s holding opponents to a .121 batting average (8 for 66) the first time through the lineup. However, the average off Hellickson jumps to .313 (20 for 64) the second time through the order.

In Wednesday’s 6-5 victory at Toronto, Hellickson gave up no runs and one hit through three frames before giving up four runs - three earned - in his final 2 2-3 innings.

“It looked like he was actually a bit tired,” manager Joe Maddon said of Hellickson, who threw a career-high 120 pitches in a four-hit shutout of Baltimore in his previous outing.

Hellickson is 5-0 with a 2.95 ERA in seven career road starts, including 4-0 this season. His first career road win came in his only matchup with the Tigers, throwing seven innings of three-hit ball in an 8-0 win Aug. 10.

Tampa Bay held Detroit to 14 runs in winning last season’s series 6-1.

The Rays have a major league-best 15-8 road record but are facing a Tigers team which has won five of six at home.

Detroit will give the ball to Phil Coke(notes) (1-5, 3.88), winless in his last six outings. The left-hander will try to deliver a second straight solid performance after going seven shutout innings in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Boston. Coke’s night was cut short following a 26-minute rain delay in the eighth.

Coke, 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in two home starts, will make his first start versus Tampa Bay. He is 0-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 14 relief appearances against the Rays.

Former Tiger Matt Joyce(notes) has struck out in both career at-bats against Coke, but the Rays right fielder is among the majors’ best with a .355 batting average. Joyce went 4 for 9 with a homer and three RBIs in August in his first series in Detroit since being traded to Tampa Bay prior to the 2009 season.

Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta(notes) went hitless in nine at-bats in that series, but he is batting .378 with six homers and 12 RBIs in his last 13 games after going 2 for 4 with a home run Sunday.

Peralta is hitless in two at-bats against Hellickson.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Hellickson Ari vs. P. Coke Oak
13-10 Record 3-9
2.95 ERA 4.47
117 K 69
72 BB 40
1.15 WHIP 1.45

Scoreboard

Monday, May 23