Tigers-Red Sox preview
BOSTON -- As if pitching at Fenway Park for the first time wasn't enough, Michael Fulmer also has the task of guiding the Detroit Tigers to an important sweep of the Boston Red Sox.
The rookie Fulmer (9-2, 2.41 ERA) opposes the Red Sox for the first time in his career Wednesday as the Tigers look to take three straight against one of the majors' premier teams.
"It's nice to know that we've won two out of three, but I'd like to get a little greedy and win three out of three," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said after Tuesday's 9-8 shootout victory.
While Fulmer hasn't pitched at baseball's oldest ballpark, the 23-year-old has done some of his best work on the road this season, going 7-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 11 starts away from Comerica Park.
However, his last start wasn't one of those instances, as Fulmer gave up a career-worst-tying four runs (four earned) on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts in five innings of a no-decision against the Chicago White Sox.
That bumpy start followed a solid stretch in which Fulmer hadn't surrendered more than two runs in 10 consecutive starts.
Fulmer has been a breath of fresh air for Detroit (53-48), which sits 5 1/2 games out of first place behind American League Central-leading Cleveland.
The Tigers are also only 3 1/2 back in the AL wild-card chase. Boston (55-43) holds one of those two coveted spots, trailing Toronto by 1/2 a game for the top wild-card spot.
The Red Sox turn to young southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez (2-4, 6.70 ERA) in desperate need of a strong performance as they try to reverse a stretch of four losses in five games.
"It is frustrating when you put up that many runs on the board and come away on the wrong side," Boston manager John Farrell said after his team scored nine runs in a loss.
Fortunately for them, Rodriguez has turned in nothing but solid starts in his first two outings back from a stint with Triple-A Pawtucket to fix mechanical issues.
Rodriguez followed up a one-run, seven-inning victory against the Yankees in New York July 16 with a hard-luck loss last Friday.
He surrendered just two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out a season-high eight in 5 1/3 innings, but took the loss in a 2-1 setback against Minnesota.
Rodriguez is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in one career start against the Tigers, striking out six and giving up one run on three hits and a walk over seven innings in Boston's 11-1 rout of Detroit last July 26.
Nick Castellanos is 1-for-3 with a solo home run against Rodriguez. No current Tigers batter has more than one hit off of Rodriguez, with Mike Aviles and James McCann also getting knocks against him.