Rays-Tigers Preview

The Detroit Tigers might have overcome their recent struggles
against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Looking to remain undefeated at home versus Tampa Bay, ace
Justin Verlander tries to help the Tigers to a third consecutive
victory over the struggling Rays on Tuesday night at Comerica
Park.

Detroit lost its first six games against Tampa Bay in 2010
before ending the season series with a 3-2 win. The Tigers (24-23)
already matched last year’s win total against the Rays with a 6-3
victory Monday, their second straight win following a five-game
skid.

Victor Martinez hit a two-run double and Miguel Cabrera
delivered the tiebreaking single in the sixth inning as Detroit
scored more than three runs for the first time in nine games.

Martinez is batting .538 (14 for 26) with 11 RBIs his last seven
games against the Rays. Cabrera has hit .348 with three RBIs his
last six overall for the Tigers, who have won six of seven at
home.

Tampa Bay (26-22), meanwhile, has lost five of seven after
building a season-high, three-game lead over the New York Yankees
in the AL East. The Rays and Yankees are currently tied atop the
division, with Boston one-half game out and Toronto 1 1/2 back.

The Rays could be in for another tough challenge Tuesday against
Verlander (4-3, 2.96 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 3.48 ERA in five home
starts versus Tampa Bay. The right-hander posted a 2.84 ERA while
winning his last three starts against the Rays at Comerica
Park.

After no-hitting Toronto on May 7 and giving up one run and two
hits in eight innings to beat Kansas City on May 13, Verlander
allowed three runs and struck out nine in eight innings but did not
factor in the decision of a 4-3 loss at Boston on Thursday.

“He’s a bona fide ace,” Boston’s Carl Crawford told the Tigers’
official website.

Former Tiger Johnny Damon is batting .313 (5 for 16) with two
doubles and one homer against Verlander. Damon has hit .367 his
last eight games for the Rays, who have not scored more than four
runs in each of the last five games.

Tampa Bay’s Wade Davis (4-4, 3.47) hopes to get some support as
he tries to avoid losing his third straight start.

The right-hander has kept the Rays in each of his last two
starts, but his teammates have totaled two runs in those games.
Davis allowed three runs on two homers and walked four in a
season-high 7 2-3 innings of a 3-2 loss at Toronto on Thursday.

Davis has given up four of the six home runs he’s allowed this
season the last two outings. However, he felt he has something to
build on from his last effort after giving up four runs in 5 1-3
innings of a 6-0 loss to Baltimore on May 14.

“Just striding better,” Davis said. “Everything was stronger in
my lower half. My off-speed stuff was better, getting out in front.
My curveball, slider, everything was much better.”

Davis was strong in his only start against Detroit on Sept. 6,
2009, when he gave up a solo homer plus two other hits while
striking out nine in seven innings of a 5-3 win.