Detroit Tigers (47-34) vs Tampa Bay Rays (38-49) — 7:08 p.m.
Comerica Park – Detroit, MI
TV: Fox Sports Detroit
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket (click for affiliates)
Weather: 71 degrees, clear
The red-hot Detroit Tigers officially begin the second half of their season and face the equally surging Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a four-game 4th of July weekend series on Thursday night from Comerica Park in Detroit.
The Rays have languished in last place in the AL East for much of the 2014 season but have played the best ball of their season recently. Tampa Bay comes in winners of five straight, and seven of their last eight, coming off a series sweep of the New York Yankees in the Bronx.
The Tigers are also coming in off a sweep, having won all three games with the Oakland Athletics, the team with the major’s best record. They have gone 11-2 in their last 13 games since the Kansas City Royals took a 1.5-game divisional lead over them on June 18.
Victor Martinez will return to the lineup after three games out.
When We Last Met
The Tigers and Rays each won three games in the season series between the teams last year, with the Tigers taking two of three games in Detroit from June 4-6, 2013 and the Rays returned the favor in St. Petersburg later that month, taking the final two games at Tropicana Field.
Max Scherzer (9-3, 3.64) turned in a brilliant performance in his last outing, fanning 13–yes 13–Houston Astros last Saturday. He was on the hook for the loss in that game, but Ian Kinsler rescued him with a three-run, ninth inning homer. Max scattered seven runs and didn’t allow any runs after allowing two in the first inning of that game. Scherzer was 2-0, allowing five runs over 14 innings in two starts, against the Rays in 2013. He struck out nine in each game.
Journeyman starter Erik Bedard (4-5, 4.21) now pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays and will get the ball Thursday looking to capitalize on a strong outing his last time out. Bedard picked up the win in a 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles when he surrendered three runs on five hits and struck out seven on Saturday. The southpaw is 1-1 with a 3.10 ERA in four games (three starts) against Detroit since 2011.
Detroit Tigers Lineup
- Austin Jackson-CF
- Ian Kinsler-2B
- Miguel Cabrera-1B
- Victor Martinez-DH
- J.D. Martinez-LF
- Torii Hunter-RF
- Nick Castellanos-3B
- Alex Avila-C
- Eugenio Suarez-SS
- Victor Martinez – Probable
- Ian Krol - 15-Day DL
- Luke Putkonen - Out indefinitely
- Joel Hanrahan - Out indefinitely
- Andy Dirks - 60-day DL
- Jose Iglesias - Out for season
- Bruce Rondon - Out for season
Tampa Bay Rays