MLB Predictions 2012: Detroit Tigers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The Detroit Tigers (36-39) and Tampa Bay Rays (40-35) will open up a four-game American League series on Thursday night at Tropicana Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 ET

Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays 

Detroit Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera is one of the hottest hitters in baseball

Detroit suffered a 13-9 loss to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, and will now travel from the Lone Star State to Sunshine State.  “There’s some bright signs, but just an ugly game,” stated Tigers manager Jim Leyland at the conclusion of the contest.  The Tigers have posted a 36-27 (.571) record on the road since August 11 of last year, which is the third-best winning percentage in the majors in that situation.  Third baseman Miguel Cabrera continues to perform at the plate, batting .330 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over his last 45 games.  Detroit is 5-5 as a road underdog of +100 to +125, with the “over” going 8-2 in that situation.

Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (6-5, 5.12 ERA) has watched the club drop three of his last four efforts, including a 4-1 setback on the road to the Pittsburgh Pirates last time out, giving up three runs and three hits over six frames.  The right-hander is 4-3 with a 5.01 ERA in nine road outings, serving up nine home runs in 50.1 combined innings.  In three career starts versus the Rays, Scherzer has tallied an 0-2 record and 3.06 ERA.

Tampa Bay returns home after a dismal 3-6 road trip, which included a three-game sweep by the Kansas City Royals.  “A lot of really closely contested games, and it speaks to the spirit of our club,” commented Rays manager Joe Maddon.  The Rays are now set to play 17 of their next 21 games at home, but have gone 8-14 in their last 22 contests at Tropicana field.  Tampa Bay is 6-8 as a home favorite of -125 to -150, while the “under” is 7-5 in that situation.

Rays starting pitcher James Shields (7-4, 3.99 ERA) has watched his club drop his last two outings, but has a great chance to turn things around against tonight’s opponent.  The right-hander is 5-0 with a 3.51 ERA in eight career starts versus the Tigers, serving as the only AL opponent that he’s never lost to.  In seven home starts this season, Shields has compiled a 2-2 record and 3.51 ERA, issuing six walks and 41 strikeouts.

Bettors will likely back the Rays due to their 7-0 record in Shields’ last seven home starts against losing opponents, while the Tigers are 2-7 in series openers.

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