Tigers hope road is where wins are

Tigers hope road is where wins are

Many preseason predictions had Detroit and Boston meeting in this year's American League Championship Series. None, however, said the teams would meet with both in last place.

Such is the case for this week's three-game series at Fenway Park beginning Tuesday afternoon. The defending World Series champion Red Sox come in with a 3-4 record, last in the AL East, after being swept by the Blue Jays last weekend. Meanwhile, the winless Tigers sit in the bottom of the AL Central after enduring the most-disappointing start in the Majors.

"Personally, I'm embarrassed," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We look like a bad ballclub."

When asked if the players share Leyland's embarrassment, first baseman Carlos Guillen said, "Yeah. We need to play better. ... You don't win games on paper."

But Leyland doesn't put a great deal of stock in how his teams start.

"I told everybody it doesn't matter. I don't emphasize a good or a bad start," he said. "Because if you emphasize a real good start, and we start like we have, what are you supposed to do? Quit?

Along those lines, he doesn't worry about recent media reports stating no team has ever started this poorly and won the World Series.

"I mean, we're sitting here talking about winning the World Series. We haven't even won a game," Leyland said.

Those same predictions that had Detroit advancing deep in the playoffs claimed the team's strength was offense and weakness was its bullpen. The first six games, though, have shown otherwise.

The Tigers' heralded batting order has a .245 average. A lineup thought to flirt with 1,000 runs has scored 2.5 runs per game. Their rotation -- aside from Tuesday's starter Kenny Rogers, who allowed two runs in six innings -- has been inconsistent.

That scrutinized bullpen, with its question marks and a supposedly shaky closer, has held its own. The bullpen has an ERA just over four. Yes, the bullpen has an 0-3 record, but a lack of run support plays a part in that.

"We're not scoring any runs. That's the problem," Leyland said. "The bullpen has had one bad game, but other than that, we haven't scored runs. "

Pitching matchup
DET: LHP Kenny Rogers (0-1, 3.00 ERA)
Rogers looked sharp in his first outing this season, but took the loss after receiving no run support. After missing almost three months last season due to injury, Rogers started the 2008 campaign allowing two earned runs on five hits in six innings. He has a 11-7 record versus Boston for his career with a 4.81 ERA.

BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-0, 2.31 ERA)
Matsuzaka's 15 strikeouts this year are currently tied with Oakland's Rich Harden for the Major League lead. He had a terrific start on Opening Day for the Red Sox in Tokyo against the A's, allowing just two hits and one run. Last year in two starts against Detroit, Matsuzaka went 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA.

Detroit and Boston both enter this series after being swept by divisional opponents. ... Guillen went 2-for-7 with a home run last year against Matsuzaka. ... In Detroit's last game, Brandon Inge became the first Major Leaguer to play center field and catcher since he did it in 2004

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•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

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Up next
• Wednesday: Tigers (Jeremy Bonderman, 0-1, 5.68) at Red Sox (Jon Lester, 1-1, 3.38), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Tigers (Nate Robertson, 0-0, 9.00) at Red Sox (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Tigers (Dontrelle Willis, 0-0, 5.40) at White Sox (Gavin Floyd, 1-0, 4.50), 8:11 p.m. ET

Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.