What we're watching: Can Tigers add to Boston's misery?

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– Finally back home, if only briefly, after losing six in a row at Tampa Bay and New York, the Red Sox will face the Tigers to start a four-game series tonight. The opener, though, looks like the toughest matchup of the series for Boston, as Edwin Jackson and the struggling Brad Penny are due to square off. Jackson is 2-4 with a 5.44 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox, but he hasn’t faced them during his breakthrough season. Jackson ranks second in the AL with a 2.62 ERA, and he hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in a start since May 4. Penny has given up 12 runs over 11 innings in back-to-back losses, and the Red Sox have lost six of his last seven starts.
– The Rays didn’t take full advantage of Boston’s losses while dropping two out of three in Seattle over the weekend. Now they’re facing the Angels in Anaheim, but they caught a big break in missing both John Lackey and Jered Weaver in the series. Sean O’Sullivan will start for the Angels tonight, followed by Ervin Santana and Trevor Bell. The Rays will use Matt Garza in this one. He has a 3.21 ERA since the All-Star break and a 3.63 mark overall. His .222 average against ranks second in the AL behind Jackson’s .217.
Game of the Night
L.A. Dodgers vs. San Francisco – The Dodgers have dropped 10 of their last 15 games to shrink their NL West lead to 5 1/2 games over the Giants and Rockies. They’ll be sending Hiroki Kuroda to the mound tonight in a bid to halt their current losing streak. While the Dodgers are struggling overall, they’re 4-0 in the right-hander’s starts since the All-Star break. The Giants will start Jonathan Sanchez, who has won back-to-back starts to improve to 5-9 with a 4.49 ERA for the season. Odds are that something will have to give tonight. Both Kuroda (in four starts) and Sanchez (in five) are winless in Dodger-Giant games in their careers.

Billy Butler on altercation with Danny Valencia: “We had equal faults in this.”

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 24: Billy Butler #16 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to regain the lead against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on July 24, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)
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On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.

Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:

“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”

[…]

“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”

[…]

“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”

Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.

Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Report: Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehab

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.

Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.

Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.