Ian Kinsler has been hot at the plate, including launching this walkoff home run Thursday night against the Royals. (Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Red Sox-Tigers series preview

August 07, 2015 - 5:21 am

It was another series loss for the Red Sox on Thursday night when they dropped their second of three to their rival Yankees in New York. Despite Eduardo Rodriguez managing to hold his opponents to two runs, Boston couldn't get more than one runner in, which was pretty much the story of the series. But with Friday comes a new series for the Sox as they head to Detroit to face the Tigers, who are sort of floating in limbo right now. Though they're 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Royals for the division, they're four games out of a wild card spot. They're closer to a slot than the Sox, but it's not entirely clear just how close. The Red Sox scored just six runs total over the three games with New York, and while the Yankees also had a pair of games with three total runs, they began the set with a 13-3 rout over Boston. They are tied for seventh in the league for the month of August in runs scored with 30 in five games compared to the Sox' 20 in five as well. "Yeah, six runs in the series is difficult," manager John Farrell said following Thursday's loss. "We had opportunities -- fifth, eighth, ninth with runners in scoring position. CC [Sabathia] threw the ball well for them, but we had plenty of opportunities to cash in there. We've got to find a way to generate some more runs. You'd think that would be the case with the guys in our lineup." Detroit isn't necessarily doing a whole lot better, scoring 19 runs so far this month with a team batting average of .231 while the Sox bat .246, but the Tigers are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Red Sox are 4-6, and while it's not a stark difference, Detroit enters the series coming off a walkoff win against the Royals. The Tigers aren't currently in a playoff position and were sellers at the deadline, dealing David Price and Yoenis Cespedes to the Blue Jays and Mets respectively, but they haven't throw in the towel yet. The possibility to make a run is still there. "We're still looking for that elusive roll we haven't had since the first two weeks of the season," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said after Thursday's win. "And if you can get on a roll, you just don't know what can happen, with the way the wild card is set up, so many teams bunched together." The Tigers hadn't won a series since the week prior to the All-Star break, dropping or tying each of their six sets since then, including a slate with the Red Sox from July 24-26. From returning to the break onward, Detroit has posted a bottom-third team batting average of .249 with a middle-of-the-pack 83 runs scored. The Red Sox are batting .251 with 76 runs in that same time, to put things in perspective. With seven triples in the second half, tied for fourth in the majors, and 23 home runs, which is ninth, the Tigers also have an 11th-best 61 extra-base hits. Pitching has been somewhat of a problem since the break, as the Detroit staff has a 5.02 ERA in 20 games started, fifth worst in the league and tied with the Red Sox. The Tigers have given up 100 earned runs in the second half, which is third worst, and are allowing opposing batters to hit .286, also third worst. However, the Tigers have some of the best fielding in the league, committing a sixth-fewest 53 errors on the year with a sixth-best .987 fielding percentage to go along with it. For a team like the Red Sox, who benefit greatly from scoring unearned runs, Detroit might not be the team to expect many gifts from. Here are the pitching matchups for the series: Friday: Joe Kelly (3-6, 6.11 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (2-1, 3.23 ERA) Saturday: Wade Miley (8-9, 4.55 ERA) vs. Alfredo Simon (10-6, 4.55 ERA) Sunday: Henry Owens (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (1-4, 5.05 ERA) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX -- Rusney Castillo is six for his last 19, posting a .316/.350/.368 slash line in his past six games with a double, a walk and five strikeouts. The outfielder also drove in four runs and stole two bases during that period. -- Travis Shaw hasn't had an excess of time up in Boston, but he has five hits in his last nine at-bats in the majors for a .778 average. In his last three games, the 25-year old has three RBIs with two home runs and a double for an on-base percentage of .800 and a slugging percentage of 1.556. In 24 at-bats so far this season, he has a .417/.462/.708 slash line. -- During his last start, Wade Miley managed 6 2/3 innings while giving up just two earned runs on five hits. The outing improved his season ERA from 4.65 to 4.55, and he had four strikeouts to just one walk. WHO'S HOT: TIGERS -- Ian Kinsler is hitting .500 over his last 24 at-bats, recording 12 hits with two doubles, a triple, a home run and five RBIs. The second baseman also has a pair of walks and a stolen base in that time for a full slash line of .500/.538/.792. Five of his past seven games have also been multi-hit efforts and he's crossed the plate eight times himself. -- With as many RBIs as Kinsler in the same span, J.D. Martinez is slashing .278/.381/.611 in his last six games with two home runs and three walks. He also has at least one hit in five of his last seven games. -- New rotation man Daniel Norris made his first start for the Tigers on Sunday, tossing 7 1/3 innings while allowing just one earned run on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts. It was enough to earn him the win and he's now holding batters to a .243 average this year. WHO'S NOT: RED SOX -- Brock Holt has just three hits in his last 20 at-bats with a double, RBI, walk and six strikeouts. He's also one for his last 15, and his season batting average has fallen from .288 to .277 since then. -- David Ortiz also is struggling at the plate, tallying three hits in 21 at-bats, though two of those hits have been for extra bases in the form of a double and a home run. The DH has two RBIs with four walks, though he has five strikeouts as well. -- Craig Breslow has an ERA of 19.29 in his last 2 1/3 innings of work. He had a scoreless 1 2/3 frames on Saturday, but surrendered five earned runs in relief in the Sox' 13-3 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday. WHO'S NOT: TIGERS -- Catcher Victor Martinez has just four hits in his past 25 at-bats with no walks and three strikeouts. However, he does have eight RBIs in that time with two home runs for a .400 slugging percentage, though his average and on-base percentage are both .160. -- Just 4-for-21 in his last six games, Nick Castellanos is slashing .190/.227/.429 with a triple, a home run, two RBIs, a walk and seven strikeouts in that time. Excluding a three-hit performance on Tuesday, the third baseman has one hit in 17 at-bats. -- Anibal Sanchez has posted back-to-back starts of at least six innings, but he allowed six and four earned runs, respectively. The Red Sox aren't scheduled to see the righty over the weekend, but he has a 7.11 ERA in those two outings with an opponent slash line of .275/.327/.490 in addition to four walks and 11 strikeouts.