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.