BOSTON – If the Boston Red Sox are to continue their recent home success against the Detroit Tigers and finally move above .500 for the first time this season, they’ll likely have to do it with without one of their top players.
The Red Sox are expected to be without second baseman Dustin Pedroia on Tuesday night when they try to hand Justin Verlander and the Tigers a sixth consecutive loss at Fenway Park.
A day after blowing a ninth inning lead in a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay, Boston (24-24) beat Detroit 7-4 on Monday. The victory, however, was tainted by a thumb injury that forced Pedroia to leave after diving for a ground ball in the fifth inning.
Pedroia, who had an RBI on Monday, is batting .295 with five homers and 21 RBIs.
“He’ll probably have some tests,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “Right now I don’t think he could play (Tuesday), if I was a betting man. But don’t bet on it.”
The same day he was activated from the seven-day concussion disabled list, Ryan Sweeney had three hits and Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered for the second time in three games as the Red Sox scored one more run than they did over the previous two games combined.
Batting .325 in 35 games this season, Sweeney has hit .462 (12 for 26) in his last eight versus Detroit.
Though the Red Sox have hit .302 and scored 21 runs during their five-game home winning streak over the Tigers (23-25), they were stymied by Verlander on opening day. The right-hander allowed two hits and struck out seven in eight scoreless innings of a 3-2 home victory over Boston on April 5.
“Verlander is Verlander. He’s tough,” Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester said.
The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner is 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA in eight starts against the Red Sox. He has a 3.60 ERA while not factoring in the decision of his last two starts at Fenway Park since yielding four hits in eight innings of a 2-0 win there Aug. 13, 2009.
Verlander was looking for a sixth consecutive victory Thursday, but despite giving up two runs in eight innings, the Tigers fell 2-1 at Cleveland.
He will try to help his team even the set despite homers from Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta and Gerald Laird on Monday. Manager Jim Leyland was ejected after arguing a called foul tip on Boston’s Mike Aviles that prolonged what became a three-run second inning for the Red Sox.
Leyland continued to voice his displeasure to reporters after the game.
“There shouldn’t have been a second-inning rally,” Leyland said. “There were three outs. I’ve been in the game a long time. … You guys need to write something and hold people accountable.”
Young, hitting .333 in his last 10 games, is expected to play Tuesday after he attends a morning court appearance in New York on the aggravated harassment charge from his arrest in Manhattan last month.
The Tigers face Daniel Bard (4-5, 4.69), who is making his first start against them but is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in six relief appearances. Bard walked four in 5 1-3 innings, but allowed two runs and came out ahead in a 6-5 win at Baltimore on Wednesday.
“My head’s in a good place,” the right-hander told the team’s official website. “I’m feeling confident out there, but I’m having trouble repeating the delivery at the same time. It’s just a matter of finding that delivery I can repeat consistently.”
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