© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

07/05/07 7:59 PM ET

Tigers want second-half momentum

Boston (53-31) at Detroit (49-34), Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET

The Tigers knew their 12-game homestand before the All-Star break was going to be difficult. And it has been for the Detroit, which got off to a 4-5 start in those 12 games in three series against Texas, Minnesota and Cleveland.

Now comes the really hard part. The Red Sox come in to finish off the long homestand with a three-game series before baseball breaks for the All-Star Game.

It will be the last series between Boston and Detroit this season after the Red Sox beat the Tigers three times in a four-game series in the middle of May. The Tigers scored a combined four runs in their three losses, including just one run off Julian Tavarez in a 2-1 loss May 17. Tavarez will start on Friday against the Tigers.

"You want to go in with the momentum against those guys, because they had their way with us last time," Gary Sheffield said. "Hopefully, we can turn that around."

The Red Sox entered their Thursday night game with the best record in baseball at 52-31, though Sheffield said it was more important how the Tigers play than focusing on Boston.

"It's not about sending a message to them, it's about us a team," Sheffield said. "Hopefully, we can play better against these guys and take some momentum into the second half."

One mark the Tigers won't be able to surpass is their outstanding start from last year's World Series run. The Tigers were 59-29 entering last year's All-Star break, though manager Jim Leyland said Thursday he was proud of his team for "treading water" while it has continued to battled bullpen injuries. The Tigers have remained in either first or second in the American League Central since the end of April despite missing relievers Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney for long stretches of the season.

"I think we've gone through a lot," Leyland said. "We haven't been at full strength, but a lot of clubs aren't, so we aren't any different than anybody else. I think we've done OK."

Pitching matchup
DET: LHP Andrew Miller (3-2, 3.81 ERA)
Miller allowed six runs over five innings in his first start against an American League team in an 8-5 loss to the Twins on Saturday. Miller had experienced few problems in his first four starts, with a 3-1 record and 2.70 ERA, all of which came in Interleague Play. While the stats against the Twins may not have looked good, Miller said he felt good that his curveball and changeup have continued to develop into usable pitches to complement his fastball.

BOS: RHP Julian Tavarez (5-6, 4.39 ERA)
Tavarez held his own against the Texas Rangers on Sunday at Fenway Park, but received a single run of support in what has become an all-too-familiar trend for the Boston rotation. He allowed two runs, only one of them earned, in 5 2/3 innings, but allowed 10 baserunners. He threw 62 of his 106 pitches for strikes.

Player to watch
Magglio Ordonez certainly isn't in a slump, but he has gone through a bit of a homerless drought over the past month. He hasn't hit one since June 2 against Cleveland's Cliff Lee, a span of 102 at-bats.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WXYT 1270

Up next
• Saturday: Red Sox (Kason Gabbard, 2-0, 5.79) at Tigers (Jeremy Bonderman, 9-1, 3.58), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 10-5, 3.53) at Tigers (Nate Robertson, 4-6, 4.86), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Monday-Wednesday: All-Star break

Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.