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Tigers try to stay perfect behind Maroth

Tigers try to stay perfect behind Maroth

The Tigers are 7-0 this season when Mike Maroth is pitching. However, Maroth is 0-6 for his career when the Red Sox are in the batters box against him.

Something has to give Wednesday.

It's ironic, since Maroth nearly ended up pitching for Boston for a living. The Red Sox plucked him out of Central Florida in the third round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft. They traded him to Detroit a year later for Bryce Florie, though their hitters have performed as if they still own his rights.

Not only is Maroth still looking for a win against the Red Sox, he has just one quality start in his seven career outings against Boston's formidable lineup, which has batted .351 against him for his career with eight home runs in 38 2/3 career innings. In four of those seven meetings, the Red Sox put up 10 hits.

In his defense, however, hasn't faced them since 2005, when he gave five runs on five hits and six walks in six innings. He hasn't pitched at Fenway Park since 2004, when he allowed four earned runs on 10 hits in five innings.

The key to Maroth's success in the win column so far this year has been an ability to pitch to the level of his opponent. His two best performances this season have come against the Twins and opposite American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. Two of his rougher starts, by contrast, came against the Royals, against whom the Tigers put up enough offense to support Maroth through his struggles.

If Maroth can rise to the level of Boston's offense, and if the Tigers can hit around Julian Tavarez in support, Maroth will remain in some elite company. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the only Tigers starter in the last 50 years to pitch to team victories in this many starts to begin a season was Milt Wilcox, for whom the Tigers went 9-0 in 1984.

Pitching matchup
DET: LHP Mike Maroth (3-0, 4.69 ERA)
Detroit is 7-0 this season in Maroth's starts, and it's not just because the team seems to score runs in bunches on those days. Maroth outpitched Santana in his start on Friday at Minnesota, with 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, earning just his second career victory at the Metrodome. The only place where he has struggled more is Fenway Park, where he's 0-4 in four outings with an 8.02 ERA and six home runs allowed in 21 1/3 innings.

BOS: RHP Julian Tavarez (1-4, 6.60 ERA)
Tavarez took a big step back after hanging with Santana in his previous start, allowing 10 hits and five runs in just five innings against the Orioles on Friday night. Boston's fifth starter was tagged with the loss, his fourth among just 11 total losses for the Sox. As the rest of the rotation continues to pitch among the best in baseball and Jon Lester continues his return from cancer, Tavarez will have to bounce back with a strong start if he plans to keep his rotation spot for the long term.

Player to watch
Jason Varitek is 10-for-16 lifetime against Maroth, with three home runs and six RBIs.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN Detroit

On radio
• WXYT-AM 1270/WKRK-FM 97.1

Up next
• Thursday: Tigers (Chad Durbin, 3-1, 5.08) at Red Sox (Curt Schilling, 4-1, 3.63), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Cardinals (Braden Looper, 5-2, 2.29) at Tigers (Jeremy Bonderman, 2-0, 4.20), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Cardinals (Anthony Reyes, 0-6, 5.08) at Tigers (Nate Robertson, 3-3, 3.62), 7:05 p.m. ET

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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