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Rays-Tigers preview

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vs. Tigers

Tonight-Sunday

What's new: Failure to address the glaring hole at the back of its bullpen is the only major flaw in what otherwise might be the majors' best team. The Tigers' offense can be overwhelming, not so much with homers but overall production, led by the quartet of 3B Miguel Cabrera (who leads the majors with 112 hits and 78 RBIs), 1B Prince Fielder, RF Torii Hunter and DH Victor Martinez. Detroit leads the American League in average and on-base percentage. CF Austin Jackson has been hot since coming off the DL. C Al Avila remains out. The rotation, led by undefeated Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, is dominant though currently without injured Anibal Sanchez. Closer is the problem, with former Ray Joaquin Benoit the unofficial replacement for Jose Valverde, who was dumped again last week.

Key stat: Like the Rays, the Tigers have lost nine games when leading in the seventh inning or later.

Connections: Tampa Bay OF Matt Joyce and RHPs Fernando Rodney and Kyle Farnsworth are former Tigers. Benoit was a Ray in 2010. LHP Darin Downs was a Rays minor-leaguer in 2008-10.

Series history: The Tigers lead 2-1 this season, 13-4 over the past three and 59-54 overall. The teams are 28-28 at the Trop.

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

Rays-Tigers preview 06/27/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 27, 2013 8:34pm]
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