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Posted at 07:47 AM ET, 07/15/2011

Leading off: Detroit Tigers look to stay atop AL Central against Chicago White Sox

Game of the day: Chicago White Sox at Detroit, 7:05 p.m. Detroit (49-43) won four of its last five games before the all-star break to take a half-game lead over Cleveland atop the American League Central, but the Tigers are now tied with the Indians after the Cleveland (48-42) beat Baltimore, 8-4, on Thursday. Chicago (44-48) has lost four of its last five games, but remains within striking distance just five games off the pace. Right-hander Justin Verlander (12-4) will start the second consecutive game for the Tigers after he pitched in their first-half finale against Kansas City on Sunday. It’s no wonder Detroit can’t wait to send him back out there: Verlander is 8-1 with a 0.75 ERA in his last nine starts. Right-hander Gavin Floyd (6-9) is the scheduled starter for the White Sox. Chicago has lost seven of Floyd’s last eight starts, but Floyd has a 5-1 record and 3.51 ERA in 14 career starts against Detroit.

Other game to watch: Boston at Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m. The Red Sox (55-35) won their last six games before the all-star break, and they will begin the second half Friday with a 1.5 game lead over the Yankees (53-36) in the American League East. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is six games out of first place, and the Rays (49-41) start the second half with vital consecutive home series against Boston and New York. Left-hander David Price (8-7) will pitch Friday for Tampa Bay, looking to bounce back from two shaky starts to end the first half when he allowed four earned runs in each of two consecutive losses to Minnesota and the Yankees. Right-hander Andrew Miller (3-0) will start for Boston, going for his fourth consecutive win. The Red Sox have won all four of Miller’s starts since he was recalled from Pawtucket on June 20, averaging 9.5 runs scored in those games.

Games you should have seen:

Toronto 16, New York Yankees 7. The Blue Jays scored eight runs in the bottom of the first inning, then let New York pull to within 9-7 before tacking on nine runs to cap a wild series-opening win. Yankees starter Bartolo Colon lasted just 2/3 of an inning, allowing eight runs on six hits and two walks. Eric Thames, Adam Lind, Edwin Encarnacion and Travis Snider all had three hits for Toronto, which scored its 16 runs without the benefit of a home run.

Florida 6, Chicago Cubs 3. The Marlins scored six runs in the top of the ninth inning to stun the Cubs and win their sixth consecutive game. Greg Dobbs, Hanley Ramirez and Mike Cameron all had RBI hits off Chicago relievers in the ninth, spoiling seven scoreless innings from Cubs starter Matt Garza. Geovany Soto went 4 for 4 for Chicago, which has now lost eight of its last 11 games.

Stat you should know: 171-171. Career won-loss record for Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez, who will make his 465th career start Friday when Washington opens its second half in Atlanta. Hernandez has played for seven teams during his 16-year career, and he is no more than two games above or below .500 for any of them. He has a .500 record for each of the three teams he has played for the longest — Washington (67-67), San Francisco (45-45) and Florida (24-24).

Star of the night: Rangers left-hander Derek Holland pitched a five-hit shutout Thursday in Texas’s 5-0 win over Seattle, striking out eight and walking one. Holland also threw a shutout in his last start before the all-star break on July 7, when he allowed just four hits in a 6-0 win against Oakland. The Rangers have won eight games in a row.

Chatter: “Mr. Clemens has to get a fair trial. In my view, he can’t get it now.” – U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who declared a mistrial Thursday after prosecution lawyers showed jurors inadmissible evidence during the second day of testimony for former pitcher Roger Clemens’ perjury trial. Walton scheduled a Sept. 2 hearing to decide whether to hold a new trial.

By Greg Schimmel  |  07:47 AM ET, 07/15/2011

 
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