Here are the 10 things to know heading into tonight’s Red Sox-Tigers game (7:10 p.m.), which can be seen on ESPN, ESPN3 and WatchESPN.com (blacked out in the Boston area):
1. The Red Sox enter tonight on a roll and looking for their first five-game winning streak since June 21. They’re just 7 1/2 games back of first place in the AL East after being 11 1/2 games out as of Friday. The Yankees, meanwhile, have lost nine of their past 13.
2. The Sox have dominated the Tigers at home in recent history, taking nine of the last 10 played at Fenway.
3. David Ortiz was expected to return from the DL today, but he will not. He is still walking with pain in his Achilles, continuing the Red Sox's inability to get their projected Opening Day lineup on the field. The Sox have used 88 different starting lineups this season.
4. In the short term, the Kevin Youkilis trade doesn’t seem to have benefitted the Red Sox. While Youkilis has posted 6 HRs and a .364 OBP with the White Sox, Will Middlebrooks’ production has dropped to just a .274 OBP, as Boston has played two games under .500.
5. The Tigers just finished up July 16-10, their best record in any month this season.
6. Tonight’s Detroit starter, Rick Porcello, is winless in his career against Boston: 0-2, 10.80 ERA (10 ER, 8 1/3 IP) in three career starts
7. Active Red Sox have batted .360 versus Porcello, but only Nick Punto has seen him more than 10 times and he’s 2-for-14. Carl Crawford is 3-for-8 with a homer and Jacoby Ellsbury is 5-for-5 with a homer.
8. Tonight’s Red Sox starter, Aaron Cook, has just four strikeouts in 40 IP this season. His 0.9 K/9 could rank among the lowest in the live-ball era. Cook’s walk rate is identical to his strikeout rate -– also 0.9 BB/9. Cook has held Prince Fielder at bay in his career, holding him to 3-for-20 (.150 BA) with just one extra-base hit and one RBI.
9. After play on June 22, Adrian Gonzalez was batting .256 with a minuscule .314 OBP compared to his career rate of .372. Since then, he’s been on fire, raising his BA/OBP to .297/.338 over his last 32 games played.
10. The Red Sox are first in the majors in runs with 510, but haven’t been able to convert those high-scoring games into wins. That’s due to a large skew in their number of runs scored; the Red Sox have scored seven or more runs 32 times this season, tied with the Cardinals for most in the majors.