The Detroit Tigers certainly weren’t supposed to be here at this stage of the major league season. Not at all.
Only a season after finishing 38 games behind in the American League Central with a 64-98 record and a veteran roster led by one of the major league’s highest-paid players in Miguel Cabrera [url=http://www.officialhockeyrangersshop.com/authentic-adidas-jimmy-vesey-jersey]Jimmy Vesey Jersey[/url] , they’re 36-37 and are right behind Cleveland in the division.
If they can beat the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday night, the Tigers — these no-name Tigers — would be at .500 for the first time since early April.
And it’s not so much how they’re doing it — with surprisingly strong pitching and a better-than-expected offense — but the players they’re doing it with. Even with Cabrera out for the rest of the season with a ruptured biceps tendon, they’ve won five in a row and six of eight with a not-well-known cast.
Not that they care.
“We just go out there and try to get every single win. That’s it. We got close (to the Indians) a couple of weeks ago and then we’re here again,” center fielder Leonys Martin told reporters after a three-game weekend sweep of the White Sox in Chicago. “We only care about getting every single game. That’s it.”
The Detroit bullpen has been especially good behind a surprisingly efficient starting pitching staff, allowing only one run and 12 hits in 17 1/3 innings during the five-game streak –and while walking only one and striking out 20.
Closer Shane Greene saved each of the first four games of the streak, and right-handed setup man Joe Jimenez hasn’t allowed an earned run in 18 of his last 19 games.
Left-hander Matthew Boyd (4-4), who opposes Reds right right-hander Sal Romano (3-7) on Tuesday night, was 6-11 with a 5.27 ERA last season, but he has won his last two starts and has trimmed his ERA nearly two runs per game from a year ago to 3.23.
And then there’s left-hander Blaine Hardy (3-1), who had only nine career wins going into this season. He was designated for assignment in spring training and wasn’t claimed by any other team but was brought back to Detroit in May and pitched his way into the rotation. He gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings in beating the White Sox 3-1 on Sunday.
Hardy takes pride in the fact that the Tigers are closing in on a winning record.
“Any team wants to be over .500, it’s kind of a mark that lets you know that you’re playing good baseball,” he said. “When we’re within (a few games) of the Indians, that’s a good sign, especially since we go (to Cleveland for a three-game series next weekend). We can go in there and say we have full control over what the standings will be.
“It’s huge. … We need to try to make a push [url=http://www.officialhockeyrangersshop.com/authentic-adidas-kevin-hayes-jersey]Kevin Hayes Jersey[/url] , and I think we’re doing a good job of it.”
The Reds are making a modest push despite losing two of three last weekend in Pittsburgh and being 16 games out of the National League Central lead. They’ve won four of six, in part because of the way Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett are hitting.
Suarez has homered in each of his last two games and is among the NL leaders with 52 RBIs. During an eight-game hitting streak, Suarez is 9-for-29 (.310) with three homers, and he’s closing in on a .300 average — he’s currently at .297.
“He’s been one of the best players in the league,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said of his third baseman. “He’s always played his position well. He’s a smart player and he’s a very well-rounded baseball player.”
Since May 10, Gennett has raised his average from .301 to .336, with a high of .345, by getting hits in 26 of 33 games. He has a five-hit game, a four-hit game and three three-hit games during that run.
None of the Reds have faced Boyd before, and none of the Tigers have gone against Romano.
In Boyd’s last start, he gave up two runs and three hits in five innings of a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.
Romano has lost four of his last five decisions but is coming off his best start of the season, limiting the Kansas City Royals to one run and four hits in eight innings of a 5-1 Reds victory.
Both teams had a day off Monday.
After splitting a four-game weekend set in Seattle, the Boston Red Sox return to work Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
The Red Sox went into their off day on Monday just a half-game behind the New York Yankees, but they have won six of their last nine games thanks to a starting rotation that has been among the best in baseball during the last two weeks.
Chris Sale will look to keep that going Tuesday when he takes the mound for his 16th start of the season. The left-hander snapped a three-start losing streak his last time out [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/marcedes-lewis-jersey]Marcedes Lewis Jersey[/url] , allowing just a run in six innings of a 5-1 victory over Baltimore.
Sale had allowed 10 runs in 10 1/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros on May 27 and June 1, respectively. He rebounded by holding the Chicago White Sox to a run in eight innings while striking out two on June 8 in a 1-0 Red Sox loss before getting back in the win column against the Orioles.
“I have a good rhythm and tempo going for me right now,” said Sale, who has held opponents to no more than a run in nine starts this season. “I’m feeling good. That’s the way I like it.”
He’s 10-6 with a 4.21 ERA in 26 career appearances (18 starts) against the Twins, who also had Monday off after a 3-3 road trip that saw them drop two of three to the Detroit Tigers and take two of three from the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians.
They’ll begin the day third in the division, five games behind Cleveland and 2 1/2 behind Detroit.
“It was a good series win (in Cleveland),” third baseman Eduardo Escobar said. “We’ll be ready Tuesday for another series at home. This team will be OK. We go out there and play hard every day, but sometimes you have to give credit to the other pitchers.”
The Twins will turn to their own budding ace for the series opener.
Right-hander Jose Berrios is 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA in his last six starts. He has allowed more than two runs just once during that stretch and has struck out 51 while walking only 12 in 43 2/3 innings, including 24 strikeouts with two walks in his last three outings.
Berrios took no-decision his last time out. He held the Tigers to a run, seven hits and a walk while striking out seven in six innings, but the Twins’ offense and bullpen couldn’t get the job done in a 5-2 loss.
“He threw a hell of a game,” reliever Addison Reed said afterward. “That was fun to watch. He works his tail off, and it shows when he’s out there. The thing that I’m most (upset) about tonight is not getting him the ‘W.’”
Berrios has one previous career start against the Red Sox. He allowed four runs and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings of a 4-1 loss at Fenway Park last season.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.