Detroit Tigers (53-38) vs Cleveland Indians (47-47) — 7:08 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports Detroit
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket (click for affiliates)
Weather: 76 degrees, partly cloudy
Baseball is back! Baseball is back! Even better, Victor is back!! Victor is back.
After rolling to a 17-6 record to end the first half with a 53-38 record and a 6.5-game divisional lead, the Detroit Tigers will open up the second half against the Cleveland Indians. Former Indian Victor Martinez will get his first start since July 4.
The Indians had a very uneven first half and have struggled to find consistent starting pitching to go with a fairly potent lineup. They finished their first half at .500, one-game behind the second place Kansas City Royals, 7.5-games behind the Tigers.
Cleveland will likely be using this series as a way to get back into the thick of the AL Central race. Because of an April rain out, it becomes a four-game series (with a Saturday day-night doubleheader), and the Indians could make up a lot of ground by winning three or four of the games. The Tigers faced a similar situation in Kansas City to end the first half and crushed the Royals’ spirits. Though they lost the series finale, by winning the first three games they padded their MLB-best divisional lead by two games.
One of the goals for Detroit in the final 71 games will be to re-establish their usual home field advantage. The Tigers have rolled on the road, to the tune of a 28-16 mark, but have accumulated a pedestrian home record of 25-22. They are trending upward there, however. The Tigers went 6-3 on their last home stand from June 30 to July 9, and have won seven of the last 10 at Comerica Park.
When We Last Met
Despite only facing them eight times in the first half, the Indians figured prominently in the Tigers’ narrative thus far.
You know the old tale by now: The Tigers went into Cleveland in May rolling, with a huge divisional lead, 6-0 record through Baltimore and Boston, and a MLB-best 27-12 record. There were Tiger-stripped Zubaz suits, plane troubles, and tired players coming into Progressive Field and the Indians promptly swept the Tigers, sending them into a 9-20 tailspin.
After salvaging the final game of a four-game series with Kansas City, the Tigers limped into Cleveland on June 20, where they returned the favor and swept the Tribe. That series kick-started the team, and they won 16 of the final 23 first-half contests.
Manager Brad Ausmus has rewarded Anibal Sanchez (6-3, 3.04) for having the most consistent 2014 season by giving him the first start of the second half. While Anibal does not have the most wins, and is not having a career year like Rick Porcello, he was the only starter to pitch well during the 9-20 slump. Sanchez bounced back from his worst start of the season, when he allowed seven runs against the Rays on July 5, with a strong seven inning, one-run performance against Kansas City in the Tigers’ 2-1 win last Friday. Anibal has faced Cleveland once this year, taking the loss on April 16 when he allowed three runs over five innings.
Trevor Bauer (3-4, 3.84) receives the honor of facing the Tigers’ bats coming off the All-Star break. Terry Francona‘s new ace, with Justin Masterson struggling, has faced Detroit twice this year, earning the 6-2 win on May 20, and received a no-decision in the 5-4 Tigers’ win in Cleveland on June 21. Bauer finished the first half strong by picking up a win over the Yankees on July 8 and shutting out the White Sox on July 13. The right hander did not receive a decision in the 3-2 Indians win, but he did strike out 10 Chicago batters in 6 2/3 innings.
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
- Pat McCoy — 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