Home Opener For BoSox

The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox are the last two AL champions. With payrolls among the four highest in baseball, both were expected to be strong contenders again in 2008.

A week into the season, they're a pair of last-place clubs with a combined nine straight losses.

Both AL powers will hope to stop early slides when they meet for Boston's home opener on Tuesday, after the Red Sox receive championship rings for their 2007 World Series title in a pregame ceremony.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Boston -160 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 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit +150 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The Red Sox (3-4) hardly looked like the best team in baseball during their season-opening road trip, but they've been far better than Detroit.

The Tigers (0-6) - widely tabbed as favorites in the AL Central after a number of offseason acquisitions - have displayed a "lethargic approach," according to manager Jim Leyland, and were swept in consecutive series at home by Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox.

"We're talking about two teams that think they can be pretty good," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "Sometimes things don't get tied together the way you want to early. That doesn't mean you're not going to be a good team."

Despite the second-highest payroll in baseball, the Tigers are the only remaining winless team in the majors, off to their worst start since opening 0-9 en route to 119 losses in 2003.

"You don't win games because you have a good team on paper," first baseman Carlos Guillen said.

Guillen made an error that led to five unearned runs in Sunday's 13-2 loss to the White Sox, but he's hardly alone in his struggles. The Tigers have an AL-low 15 runs, and a league-worst 5.30 ERA.

Miguel Cabrera, acquired in a trade from Florida and signed to a $153.3 million, eight-year extension in the offseason, is just 2-for-18, while Gary Sheffield is 2-for-10 and Magglio Ordonez has yet to tally an RBI after knocking in a career-best 139 last year.

"Everyone in here is embarrassed," catcher Ivan Rodriguez said. "We've got a day off, then we've all got to show up at Fenway Park on Tuesday more ready to play. It has to be offense, defense and pitching. That's the only way we're going to win games."

For the pitching, they'll look to Kenny Rogers (0-1, 3.00 ERA). Coming off an injury-riddled season, Rogers produced the Tigers' best start so far in 2008. In a 4-0 loss to the Royals last Wednesday, he pitched five scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the sixth.

The 43-year-old left-hander hasn't beaten the Red Sox since 2003, although he allowed just one run in seven innings in his most recent start against them in 2006.

While Detroit is hoping to escape its troubles during a six-game road trip, the Red Sox are glad to be home after a 19-day, three-country journey that included season-opening games in Japan and three straight losses in Toronto - and ended with the team at the bottom of the AL East.

The Red Sox were outscored 23-9 by the Blue Jays over the weekend. Their bullpen allowed 10 earned runs in 8 1-3 innings in the series, while slugger David Ortiz has started the season 3-for-26 and third baseman Mike Lowell has no RBIs after totaling a career-high 120 last season.

"We've only played seven games, so it'll be a lot better playing these home games," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "We'll be back in the cold weather and we'll figure out a way to win."

Boston looks to Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-0, 2.31) to end its skid.

The right-hander, who also started on opening day in his native Japan and in the team's first game in the United States last week, is coming off a dominating outing at Oakland last Tuesday, when he allowed one run and two hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out nine and walking none.

He went 1-1 against the Tigers last year, throwing his only career complete game in a 7-1 win at home on May 14 before allowing 10 hits and three home runs in five innings of a 6-5 loss at Detroit July 8.

The Red Sox have won their last three home openers, while the Tigers have lost four of their last five at Fenway.

Here are some top trends for today's matchup:

-DETROIT is 0-5 (-8.4 Units) against the money line in day games this season.

-ROGERS is 18-5 (+11.3 Units) against the money line after a loss over the last 2 seasons. (Team's Record)

-MATSUZAKA is 1-1 when starting against DETROIT with an ERA of 4.50 and a WHIP of 1.214.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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