Rays starter Drew Smyly will face his old team and prolific Tigers rookie Michael Fulmer will pitch for the first time in eight days when the Rays host the Tigers on Friday at Tropicana Field.
Smyly, who spent the first two and a half seasons of his big league career with the Tigers, has already pitched twice against his former team, including once this year. He's coming off a Sunday start in Baltimore where he allowed eight runs in five innings.
And like the Orioles, the Tigers are one of Major League Baseball's best home-run-hitting teams. They have 104 on the season, and five players with 12 or more. Smyly will need to find a way to keep the ball in the park to get back on track.
"Between the Orioles, the Red Sox and now these guys coming in, there are some deep lineups," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "They've got guys that are capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark, guys that are proven Major League hitters."
Fulmer faced the Rays once this season and allowed just one run over seven innings -- a game he faced off against Smyly. Earlier this season, Fulmer had a 33 1/3-inning scoreless streak earlier this season. Due to his early success, a chance at making the All-Star Game isn't out of the question, even if he only has 11 big league starts under his belt.
It's been eight days since his last start, since the Tigers are trying to limit his innings during his first big league season.
"I'd be a dream come true if it did," Fulmer said of pitching in the All-Star Game. "I couldn't tell you that I'm worried about it or thinking about it at all. I'm just trying to go out and do my job, and if something like that achievement comes up, it'd be a dream come true."
Three things to know about this game
• Miguel Cabrera hit his 426th career home run on Sunday. He is now one shy of Mike Piazza for 47th on the all-time home run list.
• Smyly is 0-4 over his last seven starts, and he hasn't won since May 16. It's the longest losing streak of his career.
• Rays catcher Hank Conger is batting .444 with three homers and six RBIs on Saturdays. The other six days of the week he's batting below .200 and has only four RBIs.