The Indians took two out of three in that series, and they appeared to be headed in the right direction. But they've dropped six in a row since to Minnesota and Kansas City, and they are 7 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central.
The Tigers are also in a downward spiral. Despite winning on Wednesday, they've lost six of their last nine games after winning 13 of their previous 15, and they continue to lose ground on the first-place White Sox.
Both teams will attempt to right the ship when they begin a three-game set Friday night at Comerica Park.
The Tigers will turn to right-hander Anibal Sanchez in the series opener, a guy who will make his second start for the team after being acquired from Miami. Sanchez struggled in his Tigers debut against Toronto on Saturday as he allowed five runs on eights hits over six innings. He gave up three home runs in the loss.
"I missed [on] a couple [of pitches]," Sanchez said. "They swung a lot and were really aggressive on my first pitch."
Sanchez is 5-8 with a 4.11 ERA on the season.
The Indians will counter with big right-hander Justin Masterson, who will make his first start since rumors swirled that Cleveland was shopping him before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. Masterson has been inconsistent for much of the season, and he enters Friday's contest with a 7-9 record and a 4.47 ERA.
After throwing a gem two starts ago against Baltimore, Masterson was shelled for 10 runs (eight earned) over 5 2/3 innings in his last outing at Minnesota. He retired the first 11 batters he faced in the game, but didn't do much right after that.
"He just struggled closing innings out," Indians manager Manny Acta said afterward. "A couple of bad calls went against him, but still, you have to close the inning out. He just couldn't make pitches when he had to and they got some big hits. It seemed like every time they got a hit, it was with traffic on the bases."
Tigers: Boesch moves up to fifth in order
Tigers manager Jim Leyland moved right fielder Brennan Boesch up to fifth in the batting order for Wednesday night's game, pushing Delmon Young down to the sixth spot. The decision was made primarily because Detroit was facing a righty starter on Wednesday, but Leyland said it could become a more permanent move.
"I've been contemplating this for a little bit," Leyland said. "I'm going to think about it [on the off-day Thursday], maybe have a little bit of a different look, see what it looks like. Gotta try something."
After a relatively slow start to the season, Boesch has been better at the plate lately. He's hitting .300 (24-for-80) with seven doubles, four home runs and 18 RBIs over the last 23 games dating back to July 3. Boesch is hitting .246 with 11 homers and 45 RBIs on the season.
"I thought he got in a pretty good groove for a while," Leyland said. "I think he was laying off pitches a little bit better, being a little more selective, and I think it paid some dividends for him. Hopefully, he can do that the last two months. That would be big for us, obviously."
Third baseman Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in the Tigers' 7-5 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday. He has at least one RBI in 10 of his last 14 games.
Indians: Lowe designated for assignment
The Indians officially designated starting pitcher Derek Lowe for assignment on Thursday. The 39-year-old Lowe opened the season 6-1, but over his last 13 starts, he went 2-9 with an 8.28 ERA. Lowe was 8-10 with a 5.52 ERA overall.
Cleveland has 10 days to trade or release Lowe, or the organization could outright him to a Minor League affiliate if he clears waivers.
"I don't have an answer for it," Acta said on Thursday. "I just don't know how it could happen in the middle of the season like that. I know we're all human and we all reach a point, but he was pretty good earlier in the year."
The Indians recalled Corey Kluber to take Josh Tomlin's spot in the rotation on Thursday, and they will need to make another roster move to replace Lowe for Sunday's game against the Tigers.
Designated hitter Travis Hafner is expected to be activated from the paternity list on Saturday. Hafner has missed the last two games.
Indians first baseman Casey Kotchman is hitting .312 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 46 career games against the Tigers.
Masterson is 1-4 with a 4.59 ERA in eight career starts (11 appearances) against Detroit.
Sanchez lost his only career meeting with the Indians when he was a member of the Marlins earlier this season.