Tigers Keep Winning And Now Get The Yankees In Motown

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The Detroit Tigers won another series this past weekend at the hands of a division rival in Cleveland and continue to own the best record in the majors at 35-15, but now they get the acid test!

They are about to throw a week long party in their house at Comerica Park and they have invited some very raucous folks in the name of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

Any team that considers themselves a worthy contender in the American League realizes that they will at some point have to dispose of the perennial American East champions. With all due respect to the defending World Series champion Chicago White Sox, the Yanks and BoSox are the enemy.

After a consistent performance in the 2005 MLB season, the Atlanta Braves are poised to make a strong showing in 2006. The Braves finished the 2005 regular season with a .556 win average, placing them at the top of the National League East, which is where they have been for 14 years in a row.

They are showing the signs after reeling off four straight road victories, including sweep at Wrigley Field. Yesterday they closed out their road trip by hitting eight homeruns and Bobby Cox just keeps on ticking.

El Duque returned to his former stomping grounds of Florida and got his first win as a New York Met and this could be a huge addition for Willy Randolph’s squad. Carlos Beltran is really on fire and Carlos Delgado will drive in a plethora of runs.

Randy Johnson could get ambushed today and you have to bet the pumped up Tigers as the 42-year-old Johnson (6-4, 5.89 ERA) has not had a quality start since limiting Baltimore to one run in eight innings of a victory April 23. In each of his last six outings, the southpaw has allowed at least four runs and seen his ERA rise more than two runs.

One of the reasons for Johnson’s struggles have been first-inning problems. Opponents are hitting .378 (17-for-45) with four homers and 15 RBIs in the first inning of his 11 starts this season. In 2005, Johnson limited hitters to a .210 average (26-for-124) with three homers and 16 RBIs in 34 first-inning outings.

Johnson had a personal six-game winning streak against the Tigers end last season when he was outpitched by Jeremy Bonderman in a 10-2 loss July 1. Johnson, 8-7 lifetime versus Detroit, was reached for seven runs in five innings.

Bonderman (5-3, 4.57) is trying to win for the third time in four starts and also end his struggles at home. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 7.48 ERA in four starts at Comerica Park, but he is coming off a win Wednesday at Kansas City, where he gave up three runs and 10 hits in seven innings of a 6-3 win.

Bonderman is 2-2 with a 4.84 ERA in five starts and six lifetime appearances against New York.

New York won five of six games between the teams in 2005 and has won 22 of the last 29 since the middle of the 2001 season.

You would have to do a whole lot of research to find the last time Randy Johnson pitched against the Tigers and was listed as an underdog, as is the case today with Detroit -123.

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