Though they're facing the division opponent which has given them the most trouble, the Detroit Tigers might be very happy to be back home to face the Cleveland Indians.
Following a poor road trip, Detroit looks to resume its recent dominance at home Friday night and keep Cleveland mired in the majors' longest current losing streak.
The opener of this three-game set will feature Anibal Sanchez (0-1, 7.50 ERA) making his first start at Comerica Park following a rough debut for the Tigers (55-50). Sanchez, acquired in a trade with Miami last week, surrendered five runs and allowed three homers over six innings in a 5-1 loss at Toronto on Saturday.
"He knows what he's doing, he's got some weapons," manager Jim Leyland said. "He got a couple of balls up and paid the price for that but he's a good looking pitcher. I like him a lot."
Maybe Sanchez will benefit from pitching in his new home ballpark, where the Tigers have won 11 of 12. Detroit pitchers have allowed two runs or fewer in seven of those games.
That happened only once on the Tigers' 3-6 road trip which ended Wednesday, when they avoided a three-game sweep in Boston with a 7-5 win behind home runs from Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young.
The offense broke out after averaging 2.8 runs and hitting .218 over the previous eight games, although Cabrera challenges those claiming the team has been in an offensive slump.
"We're one of the top teams hitting in the American League. I don't know why people talk about our hitting," said Cabrera, who hit .214 in the first eight games of the trip. "We're one of the top teams hitting. I guess we need to just win some more games, that's it."
Cabrera hit .388 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 14 home games last month.
Fielder has hit .367 with four homers and 15 RBIs in his last 15 games at Comerica Park, but he's hit .219 without a homer in nine games versus Cleveland this season as the Tigers have gone 2-7. They're 19-9 versus the rest of the AL Central.
Detroit has not lost any of its six series at home since dropping two of three to Cleveland from June 5-7.
While the Tigers have fallen 2 1/2 games behind the division-leading White Sox, the Indians (50-55) have dropped a season-high 7 1/2 back by losing six in a row.
It's their worst losing streak in a single season since a seven-game skid June 19-26, 2010, also the last year they were five games under .500.
The Indians are coming off sweeps by Minnesota and Kansas City - the worst teams in the division - and lost 7-6 in 11 innings to the Royals on Thursday. They tied the game after trailing 6-0 in the first inning only to give up the winning run with two outs in the 11th.
"I'm very happy with the way we came back and had a chance to win, but their bullpen held us down," manager Manny Acta said.
Cleveland will hand the ball to Justin Masterson (7-9, 4.47), who gave up eight earned runs for the second time in five starts Saturday. He allowed 10 overall in 5 2-3 innings of a 12-5 loss to Minnesota.
The right-hander was sharp in a 2-1 victory over Detroit on May 24, allowing one run and five hits over seven innings. Masterson was previously 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in 10 appearances versus the Tigers.
Sanchez's first and only game against the Indians came May 19, allowing two runs in seven innings of a 2-0 loss. The right-hander is 2-5 with a 5.82 ERA since the start of June.
The Indians cut outfielder Johnny Damon hours before this contest after he struggled through 64 games with the club. Damon, 38, hit only .222 with four home runs.
Cleveland recalled outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from Triple-A Columbus.
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