Summer officially starts next Tuesday, but the weather is heating up, the NHL playoffs are over and the Tigers are in a pennant race. So, it feels a lot like summer. The Tigers beat the Indians 6-2 this afternoon to take the three-game series two games to one. The win put them one game over Cleveland in the American League Central Division.
Jhonny Peralta broke a two-two tie with a solo home run in the fourth inning off of Indians starter Mitch Talbot. Ryan Raburn followed with his sixth home run of the year to make it 4-2. Raburn tends to heat up with the weather and a typical second half from him would really give the Tigers a boost. He's got a long way to go before we can say that his slump is over though. His .237 June batting average is more than double his .113 mark of May, but still not good.
Max Scherzer allowed just two runs in 5 2/3 innings but left with the bases loaded after 111 total pitches. Traditionalists may like Scherzer's 9-2 record, but he has not pitched as well as his record indicates and continues have trouble pitching deep into games. He has a 4.32 ERA and has allowed five of more runs five times. It will be important to get just a little more consistency out of him the rest of the way.
The Tigers got some good work from their bullpen this afternoon. Al Alburquerque got out of the six inning bases load jam with a fly out and went on to pitch 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He recorded two more strikeouts and now has 15.5 K per nine innings. Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde followed with a scoreless inning apiece.
Brennan Boesch bashed three singles to raise his season batting average to .290. He is hitting .393 with nine extra base hits in 61 June at bats.
Who will Play Third?
The Tigers now go on a six-game inter-league road trip to Colorado and Los Angeles. Thus, they will have no designated hitter for a full week. So, that means that one of their catchers - Alex Avila or Victor Martinez - will have to sit every day. Or does it? Manager Jim Leyland hinted that he might use Avila at third base. Kurt Mensching of Bless You Boys discusses the possibility, but decides that it probably won't happen.
I am a big believer in the importance of defense and am normally against playing players out of position. However, when the alternatives are utility men Donnie Kelly and Danny Worth, I wouldn't mind seeing Avila play a couple of games at third. He won't be there every day, but I think we might see him play a game or two over there.
One player who won't be at third base for either series is Brandon Inge. He is recovering from mononucleosis and started his rehab in Toledo tonight. However, they want him to take it slow and he'll be there for at least six games.