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By JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2001


TIGERS

TIGERS

7:15 tonight, 4:15 p.m. Saturday, 1:15 p.m. Sunday

* * *

THE PAST MONTH: At one point in April the Tigers had the worst record in the majors. With the help of a favorable schedule, Detroit regained its footing by winning 12 of 20. During that stretch, all of Detroit's games were against opponents with losing records. The good fortune ends this weekend in Tampa Bay. After the Tigers leave town, they play six of nine against the streaking Indians.

SCOUTING REPORT: Victor Santos, tonight's starter, has not allowed an earned run in his first 221/3 innings in the majors. The last pitcher to go longer was Fernando Valenzuela, who did not allow an earned run in his first 34 innings (1980-81). Detroit also has gotten great defense from rookie catcher Brandon Inge. Tony Clark and Bobby Higginson have had strong starts, but the rest of the offense has been weak. The Tigers are 10th in the league in scoring and ninth in ERA.

PITCHING MATCHUPS: Today, RHP Victor Santos (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Tanyon Sturtze (1-2, 4.15); Saturday, RHP Chris Holt (3-2, 5.40) vs. RHP Albie Lopez (3-3, 3.38); Sunday, RHP Dave Mlicki (3-3, 5.94) vs. RHP Paul Wilson (1-5, 7.09).

SEASON SERIES: The Tigers are making their only appearance at Tropicana Field in 2001 and the three games will end the season series. The Rays have won the season series against Detroit in each of the past three seasons. If they want to continue, the Rays will need a sweep because they went 1-2 at Comerica Park last month.

WHO'S HOT: Damion Easley went into Thursday night with an eight-game hitting streak and was hitting .391 (18-for-46) in his past 13 games.

WHO'S NOT: Jose Macias recently went hitless in 17 at-bats and was 2-for-23 going into Thursday night.

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