DETROIT - When the Detroit Tigers (31-25) last saw the Boston Red Sox (27-32) in mid-May, they swept the defending World Series champions right out of Fenway Park and took atop Major League Baseball with a 27-12 record. The series sent Boston into a downward spiral, as it went on to lost 10 straight games and fell to last place in the AL East.
Since then the AL standings have seen a dramatic shift. The Tigers, previously considered the favorites to represent the league in the World Series this season, have lost 13 of their last 17 games by a combined score of 109-59. A division lead of seven games has shrunk to just 2.5 as the offense has failed to put up four runs in five straight games while the pitching staff allows an average of 5.4 runs over that span.
Boston has been an interesting case early in the month, winning its sixth straight game on Sunday before being swept in Cleveland.
The Red Sox will try to turn their season around in their only visit to Detroit this weekend, as Friday kicks off a three-game series at Comerica Park. Boston lost three of four games in Detroit last season before taking two of the three games during the postseason.
TV: 7:08 p.m. ET, MLB Network, NESN (Boston), FSN Detroit (Detroit)
Twenty-five-year-old Rubby De La Rosa will look to spark another winning streak for Boston as he takes the mound for just his second start of the season. De La Rosa held Tampa Bay scoreless over seven four-hit innings on Saturday while striking out eight.
Detroit will send out young left-hander Drew Smyly to face the Red Sox after he threw 105 pitches in just four innings in a loss to Seattle Saturday. Smyly struggled in May, posting a 1-3 record and 4.32 ERA in seven appearances, only two of which were quality starts. Boston hitters have nine hits in 32 at-bats against the 24-year-old, including two home runs and seven strikeouts.
The Tigers and Red Sox will play three night games during the series, including their second matchup on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball in as many months.
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