Red Sox-Tigers Preview
By KEVIN CHROUST
(AP) -- The Boston Red Sox have been an all-or-nothing team with seven straight series ending in sweeps, though four of them haven't been of the celebratory variety.
The streaky club will try to get things off to a positive start Friday night as it begins a three-game series in Detroit against a Tigers team that helped start the Red Sox's recent frustrations.
Neither of the 2013 AL championship series participants have looked much like pennant contenders in recent weeks as Detroit (31-25) is looking to avoid losing six straight for the first time in more than three years.
The Red Sox (27-32) have lost three in a row following a seven-game winning streak, a run that came on the heels of a 10-game losing streak. Boston's 7-4 loss in Cleveland on Wednesday finished a three-game sweep to begin a nine-game road trip.
"It's been uncharacteristic based on the last couple of years, and that's got some frustration there for us," manager John Farrell said.
Detroit started the run by sweeping the Red Sox in a three-game series in Boston from May 16-18.
After Thursday's off day - Boston's only break in a 37-day stretch between May 20-June 25 - it now turns to Rubby De La Rosa with hopes of a second strong outing.
Filling in for the injured Clay Buchholz, De La Rosa made an impressive first start with Boston in Saturday's 7-1 win over Tampa Bay. The right-hander allowed four hits while striking out eight in seven scoreless innings in his first big-league start since 2011 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I've heard whispers about how good this kid can be, and I saw little glimpses of it in spring training," catcher A.J. Pierzynski told the team's official website. "But to actually see him do it on this stage, in this situation ... was impressive, and hopefully he learns from it, gains confidence and builds on it."
While having lost seven of eight regular-season contests in Detroit might not instill much confidence, facing lefty Drew Smyly (2-4, 4.10 ERA) could. Boston is 13-8 in games started against left-handed pitchers with a slightly higher batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Additionally, the Tigers have lost Smyly's last four starts while he's gone 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA. In Saturday's 3-2 loss in Seattle, he allowed three runs and seven hits while throwing 105 pitches in just four innings.
He was 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in one start and two relief appearances last regular season against the Red Sox before giving up two runs - one earned - in two innings over four bullpen outings in the ALCS. David Ortiz is 3 for 6 with a homer in their matchups.
Since sweeping the Red Sox, the Tigers have fallen flat with four wins in 17 games and a five-game losing streak during which they've totaled 10 runs. Detroit's 7-3 loss to Toronto on Thursday completed a three-game sweep.
The Tigers last topped their current skid with a seven-game drought from April 26-May 2, 2011, though manager Brad Ausmus remains relatively unfazed.
"When things are going well, you think you're never going to lose. When things are going bad, you feel like you're never going to win," Ausmus told the team's official website. "You have to keep the big picture in mind. You take a snapshot of the last few weeks for them, and it's a perfect example."
Torii Hunter is 1 for 18 over the five losses while Miguel Cabrera is 1 for 15 in four games this month. Cabrera, though, is batting .462 in his last 52 regular-season at-bats against Boston.
Detroit shortstop Eugenio Suarez was supposed to make his first major league start Thursday but injured his knee Wednesday and is considered day to day.
Updated June 5, 2014