MLB: Behind Michael Wacha, Red Sox go for sweep of Tigers
The Boston Red Sox not only will try to sweep a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night, but they’ll also likely see one of their top prospects in action.
Shortstop Jeter Downs is expected to make his major league debut after being called up from Triple-A Worcester.
“I still can’t believe it happened and that I’m here and trying to take it in, every single second,” Downs said. “Watch the older guys and how they go about their business and learn as much as possible.”
The 23-year-old Downs was batting just .180 in the minors this season but showed good power (11 home runs) and speed (11 stolen bases) in 189 at-bats.
Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal (5-4, 3.13 ERA) will start the series finale. He has lost his last two starts, allowing four runs in four innings to Toronto on June 12 before giving up five runs in five innings at home to Texas on Friday. He got into trouble quickly against the Rangers, putting his team at a three-run deficit before it even came to bat.
“Just pitch execution hasn’t been great lately,” Skubal said. “It’s something I need to get back to doing.”
Location was the main issue. Skubal struck out just four, his lowest total since April 28.
“I haven’t been able to drive the four-seamer and slider to the glove side as well as I’d like to,” he said. “It’s something I have to take a look at and watch video to see if there is anything mechanically that I’ve changed. Because mentally I feel like I’m doing the same thing I’ve always been doing. I need to look into that and see what I can find.”
Before those losses, he had given up just eight runs in 45 innings while striking out 50 over seven starts. Skubal tossed five scoreless innings in his lone career start against Boston last season.
The Red Sox will counter on Wednesday with right-hander Michael Wacha (5-1, 2.28), who is coming off a win against one of his former teams, St. Louis, on Friday. He gave up one run and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Wacha was opposed by Adam Wainwright, who had a great impact on his career.
“I’ve told you all before that he was the guy that kind of took me underneath his wing and was a big-time mentor and had a huge influence on my game and my career,” Wacha said. “Looking back now, getting to share a mound against him was pretty freaking special. It’s one of those memories that I’ll have forever.”
Wacha has faced the Tigers twice in his career, getting no-decisions each time while giving up two runs in a combined 9 1/3 innings.
Detroit shortstop Javier Baez had three hits, including a solo homer, and Miguel Cabrera also contributed three hits on Tuesday. Manager AJ Hinch is seeing signs that his team is coming out of its season-long offensive slumber.
“I’m encouraged by how we’re swinging the bats and continuing to battle back,” he said. “Guys are starting to have more quality at-bats consistently, which is good. Obviously, we’ve got to scratch a few more across against this team.”
–Field Level Media