A visit from the reigning world champions has woken up the Detroit Tigers’ offense.
The Boston Red Sox could be in for more trouble in Sunday night’s series finale, given John Lackey’s rough recent history versus the Tigers.
Since losing last year’s AL championship series to Boston in six games, Detroit has won all five regular-season meetings while outscoring the Red Sox 27-11. Fourteen of those runs for the Tigers (33-25) along with 29 hits have come in the first two games of this series, including an 8-6 victory Saturday. Detroit had previously totaled 10 runs while losing five straight overall.
Miguel Cabrera was 3 for 4 on Saturday with two doubles and Nick Castellanos homered while becoming the first Detroit rookie with three straight three-hit games since Rick Peters in 1980. Rookie Eugenio Suarez also homered for his first big-league hit.
Cabrera owns an OPS of 1.237 with 30 RBIs over his last 29 regular-season meetings with Boston.
Lackey (6-4, 3.28 ERA) has struggled in his last five regular-season matchups with the Tigers, going 0-4 with a 5.51 ERA, including a 6-1 home loss May 17 when he gave up six runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Five Tigers are hitting .387 or better in at least 10 at-bats against Lackey. Cabrera is 6 for 15 with two homers, while Ian Kinsler is 16 for 38 with four homers.
Lackey, though, has been pitching well. He threw 13 1-3 scoreless innings over back-to-back starts before going the distance in a 3-2 loss at Cleveland on Monday. It was just his third complete game since 2010 and the 17th of his career.
The Red Sox (27-34) are 6 for 35 (.171) with runners in scoring position during a five-game skid. While they were 3 for 8 on Saturday, they still stranded 10 runners.
Sunday’s return of catcher Mike Napoli might help their production. He hasn’t played since May 23 due to a sprained finger. Though he hit .175 with two RBIs in his last 11 games before being sidelined, his .390 on-base percentage leads the team and his 22 RBIs rank fourth despite his missed time.
"That type of production has been missed," manager John Farrell told the team’s official website. "… I think any time you can lengthen the lineup with another quality hitter, it’s going to be advantageous for us."
Napoli has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games at Detroit with four homers and seven RBIs, though he’s 0 for 2 against scheduled starter Anibal Sanchez.
Sanchez (2-2, 2.15) is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in four starts since returning from a blister on his middle finger. The first of those outings was a 6-2 win at Boston on May 18 when he allowed one earned run in five innings.
He hasn’t received a decision in his last two games while receiving one run of support in 15 1-3 innings. Sanchez limited Toronto to two hits in seven scoreless innings in a 5-3 loss Tuesday.
Boston’s Xander Bogaerts is batting .386 in his last 10 games and Brock Holt is at .364 during a seven-game hitting streak after both went 2 for 5 on Saturday.
Detroit hasn’t swept two three-game series from Boston in the same season since 1987.