What's new: The Tigers, considered a World Series contender in the spring, haven't lived up to the hype yet. But they are just 5½ games out of first in the AL Central. They will make their first trip to the Trop this season without catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was traded to the Yankees on Wednesday for right-handed reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth is expected to join the Tigers today. The bullpen needed help, as the Tigers demoted closer Todd Jones then put him on the disabled list (right shoulder inflammation). Fernando Rodney, right, will be the closer.
Key stat: The Rays have won 13 of their past 14 series at home, partly due to their pitching (home ERA of 2.93).
Connections: Tigers LHPs Bobby Seay and Casey Fossum are former Rays. And there are quite a few other bay area high school connections (see the Local attractions, above). The Rays' Carlos Pena is a former Tiger.
Series history: First meeting this season; Rays lead overall 38-37; the teams are even at the Trop, 19-19.
Joe Smith, Times staff writer