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Outlook: Fister aims to keep rolling with Tigers

If Doug Fister can pick up Saturday where he left off last season, the Tigers are in business. If the same goes for Boston's Josh Beckett, the Red Sox may be in trouble.

The two right-handers, who will square off in the second game of the American League heavyweights' season-opening series on Saturday, closed their 2011 campaigns on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Beckett, who owns 99 wins since 2005, was 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in four September starts last year. Fister, acquired at the Trade Deadline last season, was 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 11 appearances with Detroit following the July 30 trade from Seattle.

It will all come to pass on Saturday at Comerica Park in Detroit. The two teams will have Friday off after Detroit's 3-2 Opening Day victory on Thursday.

"We have a tough schedule this first month," Tigers outfielder Delmon Young said. "We got game one under our belt, so we've got to try to come out here Saturday and do the same thing."

Beckett has had his ailing right thumb checked out twice -- most recently on Tuesday in Cleveland -- but he has been cleared to start.

"I don't have a lot of information on it," manager Bobby Valentine said. "It's not much of an injury. He's been cleared to play."

Boston won the 2011 series against Detroit, taking five of six match-ups and out-scoring Detroit, 29-13, in those contests. The Red Sox have won or split the season series against the Tigers in nine of the past 10 years.

Beckett is 2-1 with a total of three earned runs allowed in three career starts at Comerica Park, good for a 1.31 ERA (20 2/3 innings pitched).

Tigers: Dirks to debut Saturday

• Outfielder Andy Dirks is expected to be the designated hitter in Jim Leyland's lineup on Saturday, giving the Tigers another left-handed bat against Beckett. Dirks went 0-for-2 with a walk off Beckett last May 29.

• The Tigers' first six games of the season are against teams from the American League East -- the Red Sox and Rays -- who have combined for a total of five playoff appearances since 2008.

• Fister was 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA in 19 1/3 innings of work in Spring Training.

• After going 49-for-49 in save opportunities last season, Tigers closer Jose Valverde is 0-for-1 this year after one game.

Red Sox: Hit the road

• This is the 72nd time overall the Red Sox have opened the regular season on the road and 14th time in the past 17 seasons.

• Beckett, who has been an All-Star in three of his six seasons in Boston, had a sit-down with manager Bobby Valentine on New Year's Day in Texas and told the new Red Sox skipper that Jon Lester deserved the Opening Day nod. Beckett will start Boston's home opener April 13.

"He thought Jon earned the job last year and didn't do anything to lose it," Valentine said. "I said, 'You have a lot more knowledge of Opening Day starters and mentality than I.' I saw the health of both of them. I figured it's an honor both ways, I think -- home opener and opener. So they're both getting an honor."

Worth noting

• Entering Thursday, the Red Sox had the best record in the Majors against the Tigers since the start of the 2008 season.

• Beckett is 3-2 with a 2.50 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 39 2/3 career innings against the Tigers, while Fister is 1-2 with a 3.33 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 24 1/3 career innings against Boston.

• The Red Sox are now 54-57-1 all-time in Opening Day games, while the Tigers are 60-51-1. Detroit has hosted Boston five times on Opening Day, winning four of the contests.

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