After a sluggish start to the season, the Tigers needed a good pitching performance tonight. They got one from Justin Verlander, who held the Orioles to three runs in eight innings. The Tigers' ace allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out nine.
Another Tigers who needed a big night was Alex Avila who had been struggling both offensively and defensively in the early going. Many impatient fans were calling for him to be temporarily benched or even sent to Toledo for further seasoning. He broke out in a big way tonight with a homer, double, single and five RBI. I guess he'll stay in Detroit a little bit longer.
A couple of other slow starting Tigers also came through tonight. Victor Martinez had a homer, double and single and Magglio Ordonez chipped in with two hits. Those are two guys that need to do a lot of hitting this year if the Tigers are going to go anywhere.
Raburn Not Starting
We were told all winter that Ryan Raburn would be the Tigers regular starting left fielder this year. We should have known better. This year, he has been yanked from the starting role already without even suffering a slump. So far, it's looking like a platoon with the left-handed Brennan Boesch getting the majority of playing time.
Perhaps, Leyland is hoping Boesch gets the hot hand like he did last year in the first half. After a four hit day on Sunday, he has one hit in seven at bats versus the Orioles. He'll need to hit more consistently this year because Raburn and Casper Wells are waiting for their opportunities.
In the rubber game of the series tomorrow night, it will be Brad Penny pitching for the Tigers versus Chris Tillman. Penny needs to bounce back from a shelling by the Yankees in his first Tiger start. Tillman, on the other hand, pitched six scoreless and hitless innings versus the Rays in his first start of the year.