Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 6/23/13
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9 a.m. EST: It was a tough night for Boston sports fans on Saturday night, but if anything can lift the spirits of New Englanders, it’s a Red Sox afternoon win. The pressure will be on Felix Doubront on Sunday afternoon as the Sox take on the Detroit Tigers in the final game of the two teams’ four-game series. Boston will have a chance to split the series as Detroit won Games 1 and 3 on Thursday and Saturday respectively. On the hill for the Tigers is former Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander. The 30-year-old starter hasn’t been as dominant this season as in years past, but a 3.72 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 92 innings is still good for an 8-5 record. Verlander is striking batters out at the highest rate of his career at 10.4 per nine innings, but he’s also walking more batters than he has since 2008, when he had a league-worst 17 losses. Verlander’s WHIP is all the way up to 1.348 this season — from 1.057 in 2012 and 0.920 in 2011, his Cy Young and MVP year. The advanced stats suggest that Verlander will rise again this season. His FIP and xFIP are down from years past (that’s fielder independent pitching and expected fielder independent pitching). And his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .344. The mean BABIP is right around .300, and Verlander’s is usually at least 15 points below that mark, so Verlander’s high BABIP means that there’s some bad luck involved in Verlander’s poor stats. Red Sox fans will hope that Verlander’s poor luck continues (or at least the news that his former girlfriend was spotted with Blake Griffin will distract him). Keep it here for all the latest on Sunday’s afternoon game. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:08 p.m. EST (and not a minute earlier or later).

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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