Last season around this time, Tampa Bay was faced with the difficult decision of trading ace David Price: this season Detroit faces the same conundrum. The game will be a secondary story tonight as the deadline approaches and the Tigers (48-50, 23-23 Away) visit the Rays (49-51, 25-29 Home) tonight at Tropicana Field (7:10 PM Eastern).
Price isn’t slated to start until tomorrow (if he’s still on the team), so tonight will be Anibal Sanchez (10-7, 4.59 ERA) taking the bump. During a year where Justin Verlander has been a mess, Sanchez has been the second best starter in this group and he’ll be tasked with leading the team down the stretch if and when Price is dealt.
Sanchez is currently having his bets form of the season, winning his last four starts and seven of the last eight, with a lone no-decision against the Chicago White Sox back on June 26. The Venezuelan took the mound for the last time in the Tigers 9-4 win over the Seattle Mariners, throwing 6.2 innings, allowing nine hits and four runs, while striking out six.
The Tigers enter this game with three losses in their last four games, dropping two against the Boston Red Sox during the weekend. The team is 11.5 games back from the AL Central leaders Kansas City Royals, but only four games back of the second wildcard.
Tampa Bay has dropped three of the last four games, including two in a row against the Baltimore Orioles during the weekend. Their post All-Star slide has seen them fall to 7.5 games away from the AL East leaders New York Yankees.
“All we needed to do is get back to playing crisp, fundamental baseball, limiting the mistakes that we make,” Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. told the Associated Press. “The reason we were so good the first two months is, we didn’t give teams extra outs. We scored when we needed to. There’s no one thing you can blame right now, we just needed to play good baseball.”
Right-hander Nathan Karns (5-5, 3.47 ERA) will start for the Rays, coming off five shutout innings (against the worst lineup in the league) the Philadelphia Phillies. Karns also provided the only offense needed for the win, becoming the first AL pitcher since 2011 to hit a home run in the 1-0 game. Unfortunately Karns won’t be in the batters box tonight to help the MLB’s third lowest scoring offense.
The talk around the Tigers is what general manager Dave Dombrowski is up too, but the best way for the team to put those distractions behind them is get on a winning run again. Tampa is far from dominant at home, and with Sanchez on the mound, Detroit should start the week on the right track.
Pick: Tigers (+110).
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison (001H0783) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)