Red Sox-Tigers Preview
Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is enjoying himself at Comerica Park this weekend.
Justin Verlander hasn't enjoyed himself there all season.
Ortiz has fared well in the past in this matchup of stars who may be past their prime, as the struggling Verlander seeks his first home win for the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
It's been mostly a dismal season for these players who have combined for 15 All-Star appearances. Ortiz's .823 OPS is his worst mark in 13 seasons with the Red Sox (49-62) while the Tigers have dropped all five home outings by Verlander (1-4, 5.05 ERA), who is 0-3 with a 7.76 ERA in them.
Ortiz is 4 for 8 with five RBIs in this three-game series with homers in each of the first two contests. He is hitting .400 with 17 RBIs in a seven-game hitting streak versus Detroit, including four homers and 12 RBIs in his last three meetings.
''He's been great. There's power, there's plate coverage and he's able to hit the pitcher's pitches when he needs it,'' manager John Farrell said.
In 54 games at Comerica Park, Ortiz has 21 homers - the most by a visiting player.
"Big Papi" may like his chances of continuing his surge since he is hitting .370 with two homers and four doubles off Verlander in the regular season.
The Tigers right-hander has posted a 10.91 ERA in a three-start home slide that is one shy of his worst-ever such stretch set last year. He gave up five runs in seven innings Tuesday in a 5-1 home defeat to Kansas City.
Verlander hasn't walked anyone in three straight outings for the first time.
''I think he's going to have to eliminate a lot of walks, because he can't reach back and throw 98-100 (mph) anymore,'' manager Brad Ausmus said. ''That's when location becomes much more important.''
Detroit (54-56) evened this series with Saturday's 7-6 win behind Victor Martinez's go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning. Martinez has connected three times in his last three games.
The Tigers bounced back one game after a dugout scrap between shortstop Jose Iglesias and catcher James McCann was caught on camera.
Boston played without Hanley Ramirez, who was a late scratch from the lineup because of a sore left foot. Ramirez was replaced in left field by Alejandro De Aza.
Koji Uehara was also unavailable after he was drilled on his right arm in Friday's 7-2 victory and will likely not pitch Sunday.
Outfielder Rusney Castillo is 4 for 10 with four runs and three RBIs in this series.
Henry Owens (0-1, 5.40) starts for Boston after giving up three runs over five-plus innings in his major league debut in Tuesday's 13-3 loss at the New York Yankees. The left-hander is taking the place in the rotation of injured former Detroit starter Rick Porcello.
Owens may want to be careful with Iglesias, a .370 hitter versus southpaws.
Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler is hitting .541 with 12 runs scored in his last nine games. Outfielder J.D. Martinez is 4 for 8 in this series with a homer and three RBIs.