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El Martillo Drives in 5, Tigers Hold Off Angels


Detroit 10, Los Angeles of Anaheim 7 (box)

Miguel Cabrera has a history of strong finishes.  From the looks of it, he’s in the midst of another as the Tigers drive toward October.

Cabrera knocked in five of the Tigers’ first seven runs to help his team build a seemingly insurmountable 10 run lead against the Angels last night, then watched as his pitching staff almost gave it all back.

What was billed as pitchers duel looked early like may have been.  Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver each entered the game with13 victories.  After Cabrera doubled in a run in the first, Weaver (13-5) worked his way out of danger, stranding two runners each in the first and second innings.  The score stood at 1-0 entering the fifth, when Cabrera struck again.  This time he hit a first-pitch breaking ball for a majestic two-run home run that landed among the rocks beyond the center field wall.

The rest of the Tigers’ bats joined in the fun in the sixth, an inning that saw seven Tigers scamper across home plate.  The big blows came from Cabrera and Carlos Guillen.

With two runs already home in the frame, El Martillo came to bat with the bases loaded and just one out against reliever Jose Arredondo.  BigMig turned on a fastball and lined it into the left field corner for his second double of the game, bringing two more runs home.  Two batters later, Carlos Guillen launched a three run homer to cap the Tigers’ scoring and leaving the Angels looking up at a 10-0 deficit.

Verlander (14-7) was as good as he usually is through five innings, holding the vaunted Angels attack to just four hits and zero runs.  After waiting out the long top half of the sixth, Verlander wasn’t sharp as he began the bottom of the inning.  The Angels took advantage, scoring four times on six hits before Verlander was removed from the game.

Los Angeles continued the comeback in the eighth.  Brandon Lyon retired the first two Halos of the frame before allowing a three run blast from Bobby Abreu to trim the lead to just three.  Two more hits followed Abreu’s blast, and the Angels brought the tying run to the plate as Fernando Rodney was summoned to get the final four outs.  Rodney was up to the task and earned his 27th save of the season.

Cheers for

  • Miguel Cabrera– His 3-5 night brought his season average up to .341.  Since the all-star break, Cabrera is hitting a robust .390/.459/.638/1.097 with eight home runs and 30 RBI in 36 games.  He is making a strong push for MVP consideration.
  • Carlos Guillen– Guillen was terrible early in the year, but since returning from his shoulder injury on July 24, Guillen has feasted at the plate.  He has six home runs and 19 RBI in the 28 games since his return, while carrying an OPS of .868.
  • Fernando Rodney– Rodney did what great closers can do, but not what he usually does.  With the Angels staging a furious comeback, Rodney calmed the nerves of Tigers’ fans and set down the final four hitters in a row.  He was able to stop the bleeding and avoid what would have been a disastrous loss for Detroit.

Jeers to

  • Brandon Lyon– It was bound to happen sooner or later, so you have to like that his blow up in the eighth didn’t cost the Tigers the game.  Lyon has been outstanding since May, so one bad effort won’t cause alarm.
  • Aubrey Huff– Huff has struggled mightily since coming over from Baltimore.  another 0 for 5 night included an 0 for 2 with RISP.  In seven games since the trade, Huff is just two for 20 as a Tiger.  He appears to be pressing a bit, maybe trying to impress his new club, or maybe the pressure of playing in his first ever pennant race is getting to him.  Either way, I expect him to come around.

What’s on tap

Jarrod Washburn gets the ball against the club he spent his first seven year with tonight.  He’ll be opposed by John Lackey.  Lackey (8-6, 4.00 ERA)was hit hard by Cleveland in his last start, but prior to that he has a long run of good outings.  Washburn(8-7, 3.18 ERA) will make his fifth start for Detroit and he has been unimpressive in all but one.  The Tigers will need a solid outing as they try to take a road series for the first time in their last 11 tries.

Division update

The White Sox ran out to a 4-0 lead at Boston last night, but all those good feelings were quickly washed away.  The Red Sox stormed past Chicago for a 12-8 win.  The loss drops Chicago to 3.5 games behind Detroit, and just one game ahead of third place Minnesota, who took care of Baltimore in the dome.  The Twins have won four straight and play the next eight at home.  Chicago has 10 games remaining on a road trip that takes them through Boston, New York, and Minnesota, as well as a make-up contest at Wrigley Field against the Cubs.