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SOX TAKE ON VERLANDER TONIGHT AT FENWAY

SOX TAKE ON VERLANDER TONIGHT AT FENWAY

RECENT SUCCESS: Including a 7-4 victory over the Tigers yesterday, the Red Sox have won 12 of their last 17 tilts (.706) beginning 5/11, tied with the White Sox and Dodgers (both also 12-5) for the best win pct. in the Majors since that date…Of the Sox 5 losses during that span, all have been by 3 runs or less, including 1-run defeats twice.

Boston has outscored opponents 88-57 in its 17 games since 5/11 and Sox pitchers have posted a 3.30 ERA (55 ER/150.0IP), including a 2.76 mark from the bullpen (14 ER/45.2 IP).

The Sox are 20-14 (.588) in their last 34 tilts, the 3rd-best mark in the AL since 4/23 after Baltimore and Tampa Bay (both 20-13, .606).

.500 THOUGHTS: At 24-24, Boston is back to a .500 win pct. for the 6th time…The Sox are yet to surpass the .500 plateau and it is the deepest the club has gone into a season without going over .500 since the 1996 squad crossed that mark for the 1st time on 8/25 (66-65). The Sox are 2 games behind their 2011 pace through 48 games (26-22)…They started 27-21 in 2010.

IN THE STANDINGS: The Sox are in 5th place in the AL East, 4.5 games behind the division-leading Orioles and Rays, their smallest deficit since also being 4.5 back after play on 5/1…This is the latest into a calendar year that Boston has stood in last place since September of 1997.

Boston is within 0.5 game of 4th place (TOR, 25-24)…The club has been either tied for 4th or 5th in the AL East all year.

FEELING AT HOME: The Red Sox continue a 7-day, 7-game homestand today with the 2nd of 4 games against  the Tigers…They opened the homestand by dropping 2 of 3 to the Rays…The stand completes their 18 home games in May, their most in any month this season. Boston has won 7 of its last 9 games at Fenway Park, including a season-high, 5-game win streak at home that ended Friday night…Over the last 8 tilts of the 9-game stretch, Sox hurlers have posted a 2.50 ERA (20 ER/72.0 IP), holding opponents to 2 runs or less 5 times and 1 run or fewer in 4 of those matchups.

SERIES TALK: With losses to the Rays in 2 of 3 games to begin the homestand, it marked the Red Sox 1st series loss since dropping 2 of 3 at Kansas City from 5/7-9…The Red Sox had gone undefeated in 5 straight series since 5/10 (4 wins, 1 split)…The club did not go more than 2 straight undefeated series in 2012 prior to that stretch.

VS. THE TIGERS: The Red Sox continue a 4-game set with the Tigers tonight, their 2nd of 3 series with Detroit this year…The Sox opened the 2012 season in Detroit and were swept in the 3-game set…Boston will also host the Tigers for 3 contests from 7/30-8/1. Yesterday’s win snapped Boston’s 4-game losing streak to Detroit, its longest against the Tigers since dropping 4 straight from 9/22-29/01…The Sox own the best record in the American League (tied for best in Majors) against the Tigers since the start of the 2008 campaign at 20-10 (.667)…It is Boston’s 2ndbest mark against any AL club in that time (Twins, 19-9, .679).

Boston claimed a win in the 2011 season set with Detroit, taking 5 of 6 matchups…The Sox have won or split the season series with the Tigers in 9 of the last 10 years since 2002.

YOU AGAIN: The Red Sox face reigning Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander for the 2nd time this season, also Opening Day…It was the 2nd time Boston had faced a reigning MVP on Opening Day (also WSH’s Walter Johnson, in 1914) and 3rd facing the previous year’s Cy Young winner to open a season since the award’s inception in 1956…While Verlander is 3-2 career vs. Boston, the Sox have won 4 of 8 of his starts against them.

GREAT SCOTT: Scott Atchison, who tossed 2.0 scoreless frames in relief yesterday with 4 strikeouts, has not allowed a run in a career-high 12 straight tilts and 17.1 innings since 4/29…His 17.1 shutout frames mark the longest scoreless inning streak for a Red Sox pitcher this year and longest active stretch in the Majors.

Atchison paces American League relievers with 29.0 innings overall this year, 2nd in the Majors only to Atlanta’s Livan Hernandez (29.1)…He is 4th among qualifying AL relievers with a 0.93 ERA, behind the Angels Scott Downs (0.00), A’s Ryan Cook (0.75) and Orioles Jim Johnson (0.84).

KEVIN HARRIMAN

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