The Washington Nationals (31-33) have had a very up and down June. After losing the final three of a four game series in Houston, the Nationals dropped two of three to the NL Central-leading Reds before sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates leading into their interleague schedule. Their first American league foe was the Cleveland Indians, to whom they lost the first two games, finally winning the last of the three game series. The second American League club on the slate is the Detroit Tigers (33-29), whom the Nationals will face Tuesday in the first of three meetings. The Nationals' hot start to the season has declined into a losing record; however, a strong showing against the Tigers would quickly put them on the right side of .500.
DETROIT STUCK IN NEUTRAL
After shocking the baseball community with a surprising run to the 2006 World Series, the Tigers have slid back to relative mediocrity, a situation in which they remain in 2010. The Tigers have not made the playoffs since 2006 and, though only 2.5 games behind the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins, are certainly behind the eight ball with regard to the powerful division leaders.
The Tigers, like the Nationals, have very little to hang their hats on this season. Both have recently swept the Pirates, though beating the team with the second worst winning percentage is not saying much for any team outside of Baltimore. The Tigers' performance to date has been quite enigmatic, with impressive series wins over Minnesota, the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox effectively negated by losing two series apiece to such lowly clubs as the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals. Detroit desperately needs to improve on its consistency - particularly from its much-hyped offense - in order to challenge the Twins for what is likely to be the sole playoff bid from the AL Central.
Johnny Damon: 7-11, 2 runs, 2 BB
Brennan Boesch: 5-13, 3 runs, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Ryan Rayburn: 0-7, 2 Ks
Don Kelly: 0-7, 1 K
Tuesday, June 15: John Lannan (2-3, 4.67) vs. Max Scherzer (2-6, 6.30)
Wednesday, June 16: Livan Hernandez (5-3, 2.28) vs. Justin Verlander (7-4, 3.56)
Thursday, June 17: Luis Atilano (5-3, 4.34) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (2-4, 4.21)