The 23-24 Boston Red Sox will look to rebound from a tough late inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in a four-game set against the 23-24 Detroit Tigers from May 28 to 31. The Red Sox continue to hover around the .500 mark without eclipsing it while the Tigers similarly search for consistency. The Tigers will finish a three-series road trip in Boston after getting swept in Cleveland and sweeping the Minnesota Twins.
Ryan Sweeney should be set to return to the Red Sox in time for the series. His presence will improve either the outfield defense or the depth of the lineup depending on who he replaces in each game. Detroit will counteract Boston's high-scoring lineup with a dangerous, top-heavy lineup. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder represent one of the toughest one-two punches in baseball and Andy Dirks has provided a big lift as well. However, several Tigers have struggled through big early season slumps and the team sits in the middle of the pack in the AL in scoring.
May 28: Felix Doubront (3.96 ERA, 53/23 K/BB) vs. Doug Fister (1.84 ERA, 22/7 K/BB)
Doubront turned in another nice start against the Baltimore Orioles last time out and he actually continues to be Boston's most consistent starter. He has allowed just four earned runs over his last three starts. Fister missed a month on the disabled list, but he returned in top form. He has allowed just six earned runs in 25.2 innings in four May starts.
May 29: Daniel Bard (4.69 ERA, 28/29 K/BB) vs. Justin Verlander (2.15 ERA, 75/15 K/BB)
With Daisuke Matsuzaka progressing in his rehab, Bard's days in the rotation could be numbered. His control and velocity have both fallen off sharply since the beginning of the season. After posting a 3.72 ERA and striking out a batter per inning in April, Bard has walked 19 and struck out only nine in his last 28.2 innings. He'll be in for quite the mismatch going up against the American League's leader in ERA and strikeouts. Verlander shut down the Red Sox for eight innings on opening day. The reigning MVP has allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven of ten starts.
May 30: Jon Lester (4.72 ERA, 41/22 K/BB) vs. Drew Smyly (3.14 ERA, 46/15 K/BB)
Lester's meltdown against the Rays raised his ERA by nearly a full point in just four innings of work. The Red Sox simply need him to be more consistent to make a serious push in the standings. Smyly enjoyed a great start to his Major League career, though he ran into some struggles in his last three starts. He allowed 11 earned runs and four homers in his last 14.2 innings.
May 31: Josh Beckett (4.15 ERA, 45/15 K/BB) vs. Max Scherzer (5.67 ERA, 72/19 K/BB)
Since his ugly game against the Cleveland Indians, Beckett has been completely dominant. He gave up up just three runs and four walks over 21.2 innings in three consecutive great starts. Scherzer has been incredible at keeping the ball out of play, but that goes for both strikeouts and home runs. He leads the majors with 12.0 strikeouts per nine innings, but he's also one of 11 pitchers with ten or more home runs allowed.
William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.
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