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Red Sox pose another challenge for Tigers

6/2/2006

BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

By Mark Simon, ESPN Research

It doesn't get any easier for the Tigers with the Yankees leaving town and the Red Sox coming in. This week may end up serving as a reality check for Detroit after its amazing start to the season.

Those who have been so high on the Tigers might not realize that they've done much of their damage against the Indians, Royals and Twins (22-5 against those three teams). Detroit still has to show it can match up with the big boys, having struggled against both the Yankees and White Sox this season. The Red Sox should provide a formidable test, after which Jim Leyland might be up for another chew-out session to fire up his team.

Here is a breakdown of the starting pitchers in the Red Sox-Tigers series:

Friday: Curt Schilling vs. Kenny Rogers
Amazingly, the career records for these two moundsmen are almost identical (Schilling is 200-133, Rogers is 197-134). Don't be surprised if this is a high-scoring affair. Schilling's 7.20 ERA, albeit in only 15 innings, against Detroit is his worst against any MLB team. Rogers has allowed 13 runs over 6 2/3 innings pitched in his last two starts against the Red Sox.

Kenny Rogers

Curt Schilling Boston has dominated this matchup over the last three seasons, with 20 wins in 26 meetings against Detroit since 2003.

Rogers could be a tough matchup for David Ortiz, who has been an all-or-nothing hitter at Comerica Park. Ortiz has 15 RBI with nine hits (four home runs) in his last nine games in Detroit.

Saturday: Tim Wakefield vs. Jeremy Bonderman
Wakefield has won his last four starts against the Tigers (in the first, two seasons ago, he triumphed despite allowing six home runs in five innings).

Most know that Mark Buehrle is among the quickest workers in baseball, but we surprised some with a graphic on "Baseball Tonight" a few days ago in which we showed Bonderman's games were, on average, just as quick as Buehrle's at 2 hours, 39 minutes. He should get some support from Red Sox killer Magglio Ordonez, who has a .379 batting average against Boston and has never been worse than .324 for a season against them since 1998.

Sunday: Matt Clement vs. Roman Colon
This will be Clement's first career start against the Tigers. Boston is 5-5 in Clement's 10 starts this season, but they've been pretty ugly games. In the five Boston losses, Clement has allowed 29 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings. In the wins, he's yielded a much more manageable 13 earned runs in 32 innings.

Now that the calendar has flipped from May to June, expect a little something extra from Ivan Rodriguez. Fluke or not, Pudge's career stats in June are impressive, particularly his .331 batting average.

THURSDAY'S NEWS AND NOTES

• Tigers LHP Mike Maroth is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery Friday to remove bone chips from his left elbow. The 28-year-old Maroth has been dealing with elbow problems since April but hadn't missed a regular-season start until Tuesday, when Roman Colon took his place in the rotation.

• The A's placed 2B Mark Ellis on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right thumb. Ellis could be out for six weeks after getting hurt while breaking up a double play in the sixth inning of a loss to the Royals on Tuesday.

• The Twins plan to recall INF Terry Tiffee from Triple-A Rochester on Friday to replace struggling No. 5 starter Scott Baker, who was sent to Rochester on Tuesday.

• The Yankees called up OF Kevin Thompson from Triple-A Columbus to replace RF Gary Sheffield, who went on the 15-day DL with what tests showed is a torn ligament in his left wrist, as well as a tendon that continues to dislocate. He will be placed in a splint and undergo physical therapy.

ELIAS SAYS

Jose Castillo drove in 14 runs in the Pirates' four wins against the Brewers, who scored only eight runs in the series.

Jose Castillo Not only was the last player to drive in more runs than the opposing team in a series of four or more games a Pirates player, but he also did it against the Brewers. Jason Bay had 10 RBI when Pittsburgh swept four games from Milwaukee in July 2004, a series in which the Brewers scored eight runs.

More from Elias

ROCKET'S REJECTS

By Sean McAdam, Special to ESPN.com | McAdam Archive


Now that Roger Clemens has decided to remain in Houston, the three clubs who lost out in the Rocket Sweepstakes -- the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers -- have to make other plans.

Clemens re-signed with the Astros on Wednesday, and when the day was done the Red Sox and Yankees were tied atop the AL East and the Rangers clung to a four-game lead in the AL West. Clearly, all three teams have postseason aspirations.

But all three clubs are also in need of pitching upgrades and will have to find reinforcements that don't involve Clemens.

More from McAdam's story