Red Sox-Tigers Preview

The Associated Press

Detroit's Jose Alvarez was impressive on the mound in his major league debut.

Now, he'll get a crack at baseball's best offense.

Alvarez takes the ball Thursday night as the Tigers host the Boston Red Sox in the opener of a four-game series.

Alvarez (1-0, 1.50 ERA) gave up one run and three hits while striking out seven over six innings in a 4-1 win over Cleveland on June 9. Detroit (39-31) purchased the 24-year-old's contract from Triple-A for that start in place of the injured Anibal Sanchez, then sent him back to the minors afterward.

But with Sanchez landing on the disabled list Monday with a strained shoulder, Alvarez has been recalled for another start.

The left-hander took a no-hitter into the fifth against the Indians.

"You certainly had to like his demeanor and his mound presence. I thought it was terrific," manager Jim Leyland said. "He didn't appear to be overwhelmed by anything."

His second big league start likely won't get any easier against the Red Sox (44-30), who lead baseball with 373 runs.

Boston, however, has sputtered some in scoring 27 runs during a 4-5 stretch. It suffered a 6-2 home loss Wednesday to Tampa Bay, getting outhit 15-7.

Detroit is also coming off a discouraging home defeat, falling 13-3 to Baltimore on Wednesday. All six runs against starter Rick Porcello came in the fourth inning.

Even after the outcome was in little doubt, Jose Valverde struggled yet again, yielding four runs and five hits in the ninth.

The Tigers were also 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position after going 1 for 8 in a 5-2 defeat Tuesday. It was only the second time this season they've dropped a home series, and the first since they lost two of three to Cleveland from May 10-12.

"I don't want to sit here and look like I'm making excuses, because I'm not in any way, shape or form," Leyland said. "Things have to be a little bit better. But like I said, today was a day where it was a combination of things."

Detroit hopes to bounce back against Boston starter John Lackey (4-5, 3.08), who is making his first start versus the Tigers since 2010. He was 6-0 through his first eight career starts against the Tigers but suffered losses the last two times he faced them while surrendering 10 runs over 13 innings.

Lackey's last start saw him notch his first win since May 24, as he held the Orioles to two runs over seven innings in a 5-4 victory on Saturday. He gave up four hits and two runs in the first inning before settling down.

Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez are a combined 21 for 49 against Lackey.

Miguel Cabrera was 2 for 4 Wednesday, becoming the first player since Ted Williams in 1948 to record at least 100 hits and 71 RBIs through his team's first 70 games.

Austin Jackson, 10 for 21 while hitting safely in his last five games, was 11 for 23 with an OPS of 1.354 in six contests versus Boston last season.

Boston had won 10 of 13 meetings in Detroit prior to dropping the last four there.

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