The Tigers lost the hardest-throwing man on the planet, righthanded reliever

Joel Zumaya,

until at least August when he ruptured a tendon in his middle finger last week.

Zumaya is the second important pitcher from last year's American League champs to go down, joining Kenny Rogers, who had surgery in March after a blood clot was discovered in his shoulder.

Despite the setbacks, the Tigers have stayed at or near the top of the AL Central, thanks partly to manager Jim Leyland, who never lets a team wallow in pity when injuries set in.

The Cardinals, the Tigers' opponent (and champion) in last year's World Series, have also had their share of setbacks.

They suffered the ultimate loss when reliever Josh Hancock was killed in a car accident last month. Staff ace Chris Carpenter is out for three months after having elbow surgery, and Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds have struggled in the middle of the batting order. Even Albert Pujols, by his standards, has gotten off to a slow start.

The Cardinals entered Friday ranked 29th in the majors in slugging percentage and nine games out of first place in the NL Central.