Both teams have some positives and lots of issues to discuss, as each has had trouble meeting expectations in 2014. Here are some of the topics our broadcast crew will be talking about tonight.
Star watch: Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera has ripped Red Sox pitching this season, with 11 hits in 19 at-bats, including four doubles and a home run, along with three walks. He has more doubles against them than he has swings and misses.
Cabrera has 376 home runs, 1,311 RBIs and a .321 batting average in his career. Only five other players have ever amassed those numbers, with all five being in the Hall of Fame.
Red Sox DH Ortiz enters today 4-for-10 in his career against Tigers starter Sanchez, combining regular-season and postseason play. Ortiz hit two home runs and a double against Sanchez in 2006 but is 1-for-7 with two strikeouts and two walks against him since then.
Left-handed hitters are 15-for-106 (.142 batting average) with zero home runs and 29 strikeouts against Sanchez this season and 4-for-44 against him in his last three starts. One reason is that Sanchez has four options that he can throw for strikes to a lefty. His strike rates with his fastball, curveball, changeup and slider are all 60 percent or better against left-handed batters.
Rookie watch: Xander Bogaerts
Each team’s third baseman is worth keeping an eye on. We wrote up Nick Castellanos’ recent success Saturday night.
Bogaerts vs. Pitches on Outer Half
But Red Sox infielder Bogaerts has him beat.
Through May 13, Bogaerts was hitting .252 with a .705 OPS. On May 14, he would go 2-for-4, and it’s been smooth sailing since. Bogaerts is hitting .362 with a .596 slugging percentage in his last 23 games, with four home runs and 10 doubles.
Bogaerts has improved the most against pitches on the outer half, as noted in the chart on the right.
What’s going on with the Red Sox offense?
The Red Sox are tied for 11th in the American League with 4.07 runs per game. Their .246 batting average and .375 slugging percentage are down 31 and 71 points from last season, respectively.
Boston has particularly been hurting at the bottom of the lineup. Its Nos. 6 through 9 hitters are batting .220 with a .628 OPS and 241 strikeouts. Each of those ranks worst in the American League.
What’s going on with Torii Hunter’s defense?
For much of his career, Hunter has been one of baseball’s top defensive outfielders, both via advanced defensive metrics and the eye test.
But Hunter’s best days appear to be behind him. Over the past two seasons as the Tigers right fielder, he has -23 Defensive Runs Saved (had 24 in the positive column in 2011 and 2012), with his -13 this season ranking last at that position in the major leagues.
Hunter’s Web Gem potential this season has been minimal. In 2011, he was credited with 36 Good Fielding Plays (think Web Gem nominee-type plays) by video scouts from Baseball Info Solutions. This season, in about one-third as many innings, he has only three such plays.