American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, July 1st
(All times Eastern)
Detroit Tigers (43-37) at Toronto Blue Jays (40-41), 1:07 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Detroit - Jose Alvarez (1-1, 3.78)
Toronto - R.A. Dickey (7-8, 4.72)
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Blue Jays left for their recently-completed
road trip a week ago as the hottest team in baseball.
They return to the Rogers Centre once again a team under .500.
The Blue Jays hope to turn things around on Monday afternoon as R.A. Dickey
tries to build off his best start of the season in the opener of a four-game
series with the also-struggling Detroit Tigers.
When Toronto completed a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on June 23,
it gave the Blue Jays a franchise record-tying 11 straight victories ahead of
a road trip through Tampa Bay and Boston. Looking to make up even more ground
in the AL East, the Blue Jays instead lost two of three to the Rays and three
of four versus the Red Sox to return home 40-41 and 8 1/2 games out of first
Toronto lost a tough game on Sunday in Boston, falling 5-4 when an error by
Josh Thole allowed the Red Sox to score the winning run in the ninth inning.
Thole, normally a catcher who came into the game at first base when Adam Lind
exited after three innings due to back tightness, was unable to secure Shane
Victorino's routine chopper as the ball trickled through is legs and into
right field, allowing the winning run to score from second.
"Just didn't catch it," said Thole. "I need to catch the ball. That's the
bottom line. "It sucks, but I've just got to catch the ball and make an out."
Boston's walk-off win came after Toronto's Jose Bautista had hit a game-tying
solo homer in the top of the ninth inning to cap a three-hit game. Jose Reyes
also hit a solo homer to help the Jays rally from a 4-2 deficit.
Dickey picked up one of Toronto's two wins on its road trip and he looks to
get the club on track at home today.
The knuckleballer is coming off his first shutout with the Blue Jays, who
acquired him this past offseason from the New York Mets, and sixth of his
career as he held the Rays to just two hits and a walk in Wednesday's 3-0
triumph. Dickey struck out six and took a perfect game into the fifth inning.
"That's as good of a game as you can pitch, unless it's perfect," Blue Jays
manager John Gibbons remarked.
Even more impressive for the 38-year-old and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner
was that it came one start after he yielded six runs and three homers in a no-
decision versus Baltimore. Dickey now sits at 7-8 on the season with a 4.72
earned run average in 17 starts, having won three of his past four decisions.
The right-handed Dickey is 4-2 with a save and 4.00 ERA in 14 career meetings
with the Tigers, including seven starts.
Detroit is also going through some current struggles, losing two of three to
the Rays on the first leg of an 11-game road trip. The Tigers have lost five
of their past six overall to fall into a virtual tie with the Cleveland
Indians for first place in the AL Central.
The Tigers, who will visit the Indians for four games after this series, held
a five-game lead for the top spot as recent as June 17, but currently do not
own sole possession of first place for the first time since May 23.
Miguel Cabrera hit his 25th home run of the season for Detroit in Sunday's 3-1
loss. He leads the AL with a .373 average and 82 RBI, while his home run total
is second to Baltimore's Chris Davis (31).
Detroit's offense, though, couldn't back Rick Porcello's outing as he allowed
three runs over six innings.
"We just haven't been producing any runs. It's been a problem for us and it
was again today," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Leyland will turn again today to 24-year-old Jose Alvarez, who makes his
fourth career start -- all this season. He is stepping in for the injured
Alvarez is coming off his first career loss, a 7-4 setback to the Los Angeles
Angels of Anaheim on Wednesday. The lefty yielded four runs on seven hits and
a walk in 5 2/3 innings.
Now 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA on the season, Alvarez will start on the road for the
first time and has never before faced the Blue Jays.
The Tigers have won six of their past seven versus the Blue Jays, taking two
of three at home from April 9-11.
07/01 10:20:13 ET