BOSTON – The Tigers helped to keep the bunched-up American League East bunched up earlier this week when they swept three games from the Orioles at Camden Yards.
The Tigers success against the O’s allowed the Red Sox to actually pick up a half-game in the division standings despite losing two of three in Minnesota.
But it is unlikely the Sox can continue to count on the Tigers doing them any favors this weekend. Detroit enters the three-game series at Fenway Park with the best winning percentage in baseball, at .667 with a record of 24-12 (Oakland has more wins, at 25-16, .610) and the best road record in the American League, at 11-4.
In the series opener Friday night, left-hander Jon Lester will be opposed by Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer in a match-up of two of the best.
“Yeah, this is two premium guys,” said manager John Farrell. “Much like the game in Chicago when Jon and Chris Sale hooked up. We’ve got a lot of recent history from last September and October with Scherzer the way he pitched against us, how good he is, how well he’s been pitching this year. We’ve got our hands full this entire series.”
Tigers’ pitchers have the second-best ERA in the league at 3.77, allowing the fewest runs (131) and earned runs (120).
Their offense leads the league with a .277 average. And perhaps surprisingly for those remembering back to just last season and the ALCS when the Tigers were primarily a power-based team that went station to station – Detroit leads the league with 35 stolen bases (the Sox are last with 11).
“The numbers bear it out,” Farrell said. “Their starting staff and then pitching overall has been consistent and dominant in a number of cases. When you think of the year [Rick] Porcello’s has been having in particular. A lot of the attention is always going to go to [Justin] Verlander and Scherzer. But Porcello’s been very good, a lot of strikes.
“As they change their look offensively, it’s been a team with a lot of speed. They’re more diverse and not just built around the long ball or power and station to station. This is a team that can exploit a number of things on the base paths as well.”