DETROIT – (Special Preview for Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – It is just another game on the schedule Monday when Boston closes out a four-game series in Detroit, according to Red Sox skipper John Farrell, but it is a marquee pitching matchup to nearly everybody else.
Boston southpaw Chris Sale will face veteran Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander in a pairing of pitchers with excellent track records who worked their teams’ season openers.
“Sale and Jamieson Taillon (of Pittsburgh) was a good one as well,” Farrell said in downplaying the duel. “It’s another game. That’s kind of the way you look at it.
“We’ll get here; we need to get a big hit with two outs and men in scoring position is the way I look at it right now.”
The Red Sox beat Detroit 7-5 on Sunday with a four-run rally in the eighth as they slowly get players back from the bereavement list and sick leave.
Lefty Robbie Ross Jr. (illness) remains on the 10-day disabled list until Thursday, but Boston got Matt Barnes off the bereavement list Sunday, and shortstop Xander Bogaerts will join him Monday.
Right-hander Joe Kelly and rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi are still battling the flu, but Mookie Betts returned to the lineup for Boston after he dealt with the flu. Slugger Hanley Ramirez remains in Boston, recuperating from the same illness.
Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was slated to return to Boston on Monday to have his right knee examined. He sprained a ligament, and while examinations show nothing serious, the Red Sox want to re-examine to see if there is anything serious causing the swelling that appeared Sunday.
“(It seems like) we’ve only got half our squad here,” said Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello, who started Sunday but did not figure in the decision. “We’ve been battling the last three days. And part of the guys out there (on the field) are pretty sick.”
Detroit has a problem of a different sort — a bullpen that sports an 8.47 ERA mainly due to a pair of implosions. The Tigers have battled relief issues for several years.
“Well, I mean, the problem is pitchers aren’t going to be perfect,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “You’re going to have games that you lose in the last three innings, regardless of how good your bullpen is. How many teams have a seventh, eighth, ninth that are lock-down? Not many.”
Sale (0-0) will be making his second career start for Boston on Monday but his 30th appearance overall against Detroit. The first 29 came for his former employer, the Chicago White Sox, who traded the left-hander to the Red Sox in the offseason.
Sale is 8-7 with a 3.05 ERA against the Tigers, with 19 of his appearances being starts. He has 158 strikeouts against Detroit, his highest total against any team.
Verlander (1-0) is making his second start, having pitched his ninth season opener last week and coming away with the win. He became just the third Detroit pitcher to strike out 10 in a season opener.
He will be making his 16th start against the Red Sox, and he owns a 5-5 record with a 2.96 ERA against them