The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox rekindle their budding rivalry when the two struggling teams meet at Comerica Park for a weekend series beginning tonight.
When the Tigers left Boston three weeks ago, they were riding high with baseball’s best record. Since then they’ve won just four times in 17 contests.
The Red Sox have not fared much better. The Tigers sweep helped the Red Sox spiral into a 10-game losing streak. They then bounced back to win seven straight, but didn’t do Detroit any favors by being swept in Cleveland earlier this week.
I met with Sean Sylver of BoSox Injection to find out what has been going wrong for the defending World Series Champions, what went right when they were on the winning streak, and what does Red Sox Nation think of the juggernaut that just destroyed our team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
MCB: Until they went to Cleveland, the Red Sox had seemingly turned it around after a 10-game skid. What changed things for the better for Boston? Was it the fisticuffs with Tampa Bay? What went wrong in Cleveland?
BSI: The Red Sox winning streak combined the two things they’d sought all year: consistent pitching and timely hitting. It was about time. In Cleveland, the offense just didn’t do enough to support the pitchers: 10 runs over three games and lots of runners left stranded in scoring position.
MCB: Many Tigers fans were hoping Detroit would swoop in after the draft and sign Stephen Drew to cure their shortstop issues. The Red Sox ruined the hopes and dreams of Tigers’ fans (again) by resigning their former player. What does Drew bring to the Red Sox that has been missing this year? What has the fan reaction been to signing him?
BSI: The Red Sox struggled with infield stability over the first two months, as Will Middlebrooks, who’s had a hole in his bat since late-2012, couldn’t stay on the field. The Red Sox may have panicked in turning to Drew, but he does bring the stability they’ve been seeking. Red Sox fans? They’re enamored with Brock Holt. The 26-year old has been tearing it up. It’s unclear if Holt will continue to rake, which is why Boston turned to a guy with a track record in Drew. But if he does, he’ll probably stick around in a utility role.
MCB: The AL East has been a funky division this year with many teams spending time in first place. We in Detroit just saw the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park and saw them blow our team away. They appear to me as the class of that division. Do the Red Sox fear the Blue Jays or do they feel they will be ripe for the picking as they attempt a comeback within the division?
BSI: The Blue Jays certainly aren’t lacking for offense, but I’ve got two words for Toronto: prove it. The Jays have had a number of teams over the years that have put up runs. Let’s see if the pitching can hold up. Mark Buehrle is one of my favorites in the game, but he can’t possibly stay on a 27-3 pace. Drew Hutchison has pitched some great games (including out-dueling Yu Darvish at a game I attended in Texas), but only a third of his outings have been quality starts. Will Marcus “The Abominable” Stroman be able to get it done at the Major League level? I think it’s great that Toronto is doing what they’re doing. But there are times in the season when the bats go cold, and that’s when they’ll have to ride these starters. Are they capable?
MCB: With both teams not playing their best baseball, the ALCS rematch doesn’t seem to have the luster as it did three weeks ago. How do you see this series with Boston and Detroit playing out? Who wins the series?
BSI: The pitching matchups are intriguing. I’m interested to see what Rubby De La Rosa can do his second time out there, and Drew Smyly is a good young arm who’s mired in a winless streak. Then you’ve got Lester-Scherzer and Lackey-Sanchez. It’s in Detroit, and the Sox haven’t been hitting, so I could see the Tigers taking two of three. But with Lester and Lackey going back-to-back, Boston has a shot in any series.