Red Sox vs. Tigers: Detroit SP Justin Verlander Opens Things Up at Comerica Park

The Boston Red Sox (0-0) and Detroit Tigers (0-0) will open their respective MLB seasons with a high-profile pitching matchup on Thursday afternoon inside Comerica Park.

Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers SP Justin Verlander was 8-1 with a 1.78 ERA during the day last year

Boston is set to begin its 112th American League season and will look to improve upon its 54-56-1 all-time mark on Opening Day.  The Red Sox made plenty of changes during the offseason due to posting a 7-20 record in September.  Enter new manager Bobby Valentine, who takes over for Terry Francona, who led the franchise to two World Series championships.  The Red Sox are 31-39-1 all-time when starting a season on the road, including just two wins in their last eight tries in the situation.

Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester finished last year with a 15-9 record and 3.47 ERA in 31 starts, but fell flat in the final month, posting a 1-3 mark and 5.40 ERA in six September outings.  The left-hander was 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA in four starts during the spring.  Lester is 0-2 with a 5.89 ERA in three career starts versus the Tigers, as they are the only American League team he has never defeated.  He allowed four earned runs in seven innings in his only lifetime appearance in today’s stadium.

Detroit is certainly expecting big things in finishing the exhibition season with a 20-8 record.  The Tigers made a big splash during the offseason in signing former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, as he will join forces with last year’s AL batting champion to make up one of the best lineups in baseball.  “We got guys ready,” commented Tigers manager Jim Leyland about starting the new season.  Cabrera did miss nine spring games due to an eye injury, but is ready to go.  Detroit is 37-17 in its last 54 games as a home favorite.

Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander captured the AL Cy Young and MVP awards last year, finishing with an outstanding 24-5 record and 2.40 ERA in 34 starts.  The right-hander proved to be nearly impossible to beat during the day in 2011, posting an 8-1 mark and 1.78 ERA, as opponents hit just .158 against him.  He will be making his eighth career start versus the Red Sox, coming in with a 3-2 record and 3.22 ERA.  Verlander served up just nine home runs in 117 2/3 innings in front of the home fans a year ago.

Bettors will likely back the Tigers due to their 8-0 record in Verlander’s last eight starts as a favorite of -110 to -150, while the Red Sox are 1-9 on the road versus a right-handed starter.

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