Shortly before the start of today's game, it was announced that four Tigers were selected to the All Star game. Catcher Alex Avila will start the game and will be joined by first baseman Miguel Cabrera, ace starter Justin Verlander and closer Jose Valverde. The biggest surprise was that Avila overcame a huge early deficit in fan balloting to win the vote in the final days. He certainly deserves to start and I give Tigers fans credit for getting him there in the last few days of voting.
Catcher/DH Victor Martinez also has a chance to make the team as he is one of five American League finalists in one last round of fan voting. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta is also deserving of a spot on the team and could get added if an injury forces someone else out of the game.
For a team with so many all stars, the Tigers struggled mightily in inter-league play this year. After going 63-27 (.700 winning percentage) versus National League teams between 2006-2010, the Tigers went 7-11 this year. What's more, they allowed 14 or more runs three times in games versus the senior circuit this week.
The Tigers beat the Giants 6-3 in their final inter-league match-up today, but it wasn't easy. They had to overcome a 3-2 deficit with a seventh inning two-run rally capped by a go ahead two-run single by Magglio Ordonez. They then had to survive some shaky relief pitching by Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde.
Ryan Raburn has taken a lot of heat from fans this year, so I'll spend a little time talking about his great catch today. He robbed Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand of extra bases with a diving catch with two-men on base in the top of the eighth inning. A long run, perfect timing and an incredible extension was needed to nab a sure gapper in left center field. It was a difficult play for anyone, but especially for someone who hasn't played the position in three weeks. The play earned him a rare standing ovation from Tigers faithful.
Raburn has had an awful year and has been getting booed unmercifully by fans as of late. He's not the joke of a defender he is portrayed to be though. What usually gets forgotten in all his bonehead plays is that has above average fielding skills including good range and a strong arm. This allows him to make plays that many other left fielders can not make and helps make up for his miscues. This is why he is consistently around average among left fielders on most fielding metrics.