Jose Alvarez carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning of his Major League debut. What could the Tigers southpaw possibly do for an encore?
"He came up. He did a wonderful job," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. "I think he'll do fine [Thursday] if he has that same [presence]. The kid did a fantastic job. And we said if something came up, he would deserve a start, and we're giving him a start."
Alvarez will get that second chance when the Tigers host the Red Sox for the first tilt of a four-game series on Thursday. On June 9, the 24-year-old limited the Indians to one run on three hits over six innings. He walked one and tallied seven strikeouts.
When Anibal Sanchez landed on the disabled list this week, the Tigers selected Alvarez to take his spot in the starting rotation.
"I feel comfortable with him," Leyland said. "[The Red Sox] don't know him, so I don't know what's going to happen."
Alvarez will encounter a Boston club that sits 1 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles in a tough American League East. The Red Sox also lead the Majors in runs per game.
"We're going to get challenged in Detroit," Boston manager John Farrell said. "We know that. But I like to think they're probably going to feel the same when we leave there."
Veteran right-hander John Lackey will toe the rubber for Boston. Lackey has compiled a 4-5 record and a 3.08 ERA in 11 starts this season, though he has posted a 3-1 mark and a 2.39 ERA across his last six outings.
On Saturday, Lackey held the Orioles to two runs over seven innings. He surrendered both runs in the first frame before blanking Baltimore for the ensuing six innings.
"Just kind of slowed it down, tried to make some pitches, minimize some damage and kind of got settled in a little bit," Lackey said. "[You] can't really do much about the first couple guys getting on once they're on, so you just try to minimize it the best you can."
Red Sox: Rare day off for Salty
After he caught both games of a doubleheader on Tuesday and was behind the plate again on Wednesday, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is scheduled to finally get a day off for the series opener against Detroit.
"With today's matchup, and then with Alvarez -- a left-hander -- going tomorrow, it's likely [Ryan] Lavarnway will be back there handling Lackey over in Detroit, first game," Farrell said Wednesday.
Lavarnway had two hits -- one a double -- in eight May at-bats.
Tigers: Holaday gets a chance
Catcher Bryan Holaday made his first start behind the plate on Wednesday. He was promoted to the big league squad on Monday when Alex Avila went on the 15-day disabled list.
"I think Holaday's good at following a game plan," Leyland said.
Leyland said he contemplated starting Holaday on Thursday, since he has experience catching Alvarez at Triple-A Toledo, but given how well Alvarez fared in his debut with a different catcher, Leyland decided it isn't a necessity.
• The Red Sox and Tigers have yet to square off this season. The clubs split 10 meetings last year.
• In 23 lifetime at-bats against Lackey, Victor Martinez has a .435 average. Jhonny Peralta has had similar success, batting .393 in 28 at-bats.
• The Tigers and Red Sox rank first and second in the Majors, respectively, in on-base percentage.
Zack Meisel is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @zackmeisel. AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.