M's Host Tigers

Left field has been a problem for the Detroit Tigers for more than a year. Manager Jim Leyland is giving Marcus Thames a chance to solve it.

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Thames is expected to start in left again Friday night when the Tigers open a three-game series against the last-place Seattle Mariners.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Detroit -120 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit –120 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The Tigers (22-31) have used seven players in left this season, second only to Toronto (eight) in the AL. None have been able to stabilize the position, as Detroit's left fielders have combined to hit a league-low .206.

The team didn't have any success in the search last year either, using 10 left fielders who batted .240 - worst in the league.

Leyland has now turned to Thames to try and fill the position, and he went 2-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs to power a 6-2 win at Los Angeles on Wednesday.

"Thames has quietly earned his shot after the last couple of years. He's got enough credibility that he deserves a shot," Leyland said. "He's a power bat. If he gets on a roll and starts hitting three-run homers, it's going to be a big thing for us."

Thames, hitting .261, was a solid contributor to the Tigers' run to the World Series in 2006, playing mostly in right field and hitting .256 with 26 homers and 60 RBIs. He fell into a part-time role in 2007, however, due to his struggles against right-handers.

Thames is still having a hard time with righties, hitting .233 this season compared to .308 with all of his five homers and 14 of his 16 RBIs against left-handers.

Thames went 2-for-3 with a grand slam in a 9-4 win over Seattle on May 21 as Detroit went on to sweep the three-game series.

The Mariners (20-34), owners of the worst record in the AL, are scheduled to start three right-handers in the series with Carlos Silva (3-4, 5.14 ERA) going Friday, Felix Hernandez on Saturday and Miguel Batista on Sunday.

Silva hasn't won since April 17, going 0-4 with a 6.86 ERA in seven starts since. One of those defeats came against Detroit on May 20, when he allowed seven runs and nine hits in four innings of a 12-8 loss. He's 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA in his last three starts against the Tigers.

Silva didn't fare much better Saturday, giving up seven runs and 11 hits, including two homers, in six innings of a 12-6 road loss to the New York Yankees.

The Mariners are looking to match their season-high three-game winning streak after beating Boston 1-0 on Wednesday behind outstanding pitching from Erik Bedard, Brandon Morrow and J.J. Putz. That came a night after Jose Lopez drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth of a 4-3 win that snapped Seattle's season-worst seven-game slide.

"We won a series and it feels real good," Mariners manager John McLaren told the team's official Web site. "Real good."

Yuniesky Betancourt is 9-for-18 with a homer and two RBIs in the last five games. The shortstop rebounded from an error in Tuesday's victory that led to three runs by going 2-for-3 with the solo homer Wednesday.

Betancourt is hitting .351 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 26 games against the Tigers. He's 6-for-12 with a homer off Nate Robertson (2-5, 5.88), Friday's starter.

Robertson will be looking to win consecutive starts for the first time since July.

The left-hander allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of Saturday's 19-3 win over Minnesota. He's 4-3 with a 3.66 ERA in eight starts against Seattle, but hasn't started at Safeco Field since a complete-game 3-2 loss July 9, 2006.

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