(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox are set for the rubber match of their three-game weekend series at Fenway Park this afternoon.
Detroit (AL Central) and Boston (AL East) are both in third place in their respective divisions and have to be considered long shots to challenge for a title this year.
The Tigers will send ace Justin Verlander to the hill this evening, and he owns an impressive 12-6 record with a 3.74 ERA. Verlander pitched fairly well against Tampa on Tuesday, allowing three earned runs on five hits in eight innings, but he was handed the loss in that road affair. The veteran righty has 130 strikeouts in 137 1/3 innings.
Verlander has yet to face Boston this season and is 2-2 lifetime against the Red Sox with a 3.90 ERA.
Slated to oppose Verlander is Clay Buchholz, the young Boston right-hander who has been one of the team's best players to date. Buchholz is 11-5 with a 2.71 ERA and allowed just one earned run in seven innings of a victory over the Angels on Monday. He has one complete game in 17 appearances this year.
Buchholz is 1-0 against Detroit this season and 1-1 lifetime against the Tigers in three games.
David Ortiz provided some late-game dramatics yet again on Saturday, belting a game-winning three-run double in the ninth inning to lift the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory over the Tigers.
Ryan Perry, who came into the game for the Tigers in the seventh, began the ninth by allowing a leadoff single to Darnell McDonald and was lifted in favor of Phil Coke (6-2).
Coke was able to induce a fly out from Marco Scutaro, but Jed Lowrie followed with a pinch-hit double to send McDonald to third. After intentionally walking Kevin Youkilis to load the bases, Ortiz blasted a double to deep center to plate all three runners and win the game.
Ortiz's hit comes one game after his ninth-inning grand slam nearly gave Boston another comeback win, falling just one run short in Friday's 6-5 defeat in the series opener. The rally made a winner of Hideki Okajima (4-3), who threw one scoreless frame.
Ryan Kalish, making his major league debut, added two hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Red Sox, who have won six of nine but finished July at a mediocre 12-13. McDonald finished 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win.
"I just never felt this much energy in a stadium," Kalish said. "This is Fenway Park, this has been around forever. A three-run walk-off double is something that -- you watch on TV with all those guys freaking out, and I was one of those guys freaking out today. It was a lot of fun."
Miguel Cabrera clubbed his 26th home run of the season for the Tigers, who have lost five of six. Max Scherzer was denied the win despite allowing just one run on nine hits and a walk while fanning three in 6 1/3 frames.
"It was a very good ball game. Scherzer pitched extremely well, really very, very well," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "We were a little hamstrung today. Last night's bullpen situation really took a toll on today's game."
Boston has won 12 of its last 17 overall versus Detroit.