BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox may have never felt so good about being at the .500 mark at this point of the season.
On the verge of imploding, the Red Sox won the final two games of their series against the New York Yankees to pull within four games for the second spot in the American League wild-card chase. Boston remains in last place in the AL East, however, and the schedule does not get much easier with the Detroit Tigers coming to Fenway Park for a three-game series.
The Tigers avoided a three-game sweep with a 4-1 victory over Toronto on Sunday and closed within 1 1/2 games of the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox. Detroit has gone 16-8 in July to climb back into the division race, but had lost four of five before Sunday's victory. Jhonny Peralta was 0-for-17 in his previous five games before slamming a pair of home runs and driving in four runs in the series finale versus Toronto.
Pitching matchup: Tigers RH Max Scherzer (10-5, 4.49 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Clay Buchholz (8-3, 4.93)
Scherzer is on a roll, going 4-0 in his last five starts to reach double digits in victories for the third straight season. He has won his last two turns, allowing three runs and only six hits while striking out 17 in 14 innings. Although he is 1-2 with a 9.82 ERA against the Red Sox, Scherzer won at Boston on May 31, giving up three runs and seven hits in six innings.
Buchholz has come back strong since a trip to the disabled list, although he has nothing to show for it. He is winless in three starts since the All-Star break despite allowing two runs in 15 innings over his last two outings, receiving a no-decision in each. He's 1-1 with a 3.83 ERA in seven starts vs. Detroit. Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-15 with no homers against Buchholz.
Detroit has won four of seven meetings against the Red Sox this season.
Red Sox rookie INF Pedro Ciriaco is batting .349 this season and has three-game winning hits against the Yankees, including Sunday night's.
Tigers 1B Prince Fielder is batting .400 (20-for-50) with five homers and 11 RBIs against Boston.
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