Any victory is a good one to end a losing streak, but for the Tigers Tuesday, the 5-3 win over the White Sox was almost a necessity.
“Everything in the dugout was uplifting,” starting pitcher Doug Fister (9-8) said of ending a four-game losing streak. “Guys on the bench were pulling for the guys in the game. Tonight was a good team camaraderie night.”
It meant the Tigers are back within two games of the White Sox in the American League Central race, indicative again of what the managers keep saying about the time left in the season.
“It’s down to two again with quite a few games left,” manager Jim Leyland said. “After [Wednesday’s] game it will be one or three. This is September baseball at its best.
“Both teams tonight did what they do,” he said of hitting home runs–the Sox with Dewayne Wise and Gordon Beckham connecting against Fister and Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera against Jake Peavy (10-11).
“Any time you win a game, it’s huge, especially this time of the year, but momentum is tomorrow’s starting pitcher,” he added.
That will be Gavin Floyd instead of Francisco Liriano for the Sox and Max Scherzer for the Tigers.
“Floyd has been tough on us and Scherzer has been great,” Leyland said.
Floyd’s return means a dilemma for Leyland’s lineup plans.
His problem surround how to use infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn and outfielder Brennan Boesch.
Raburn is still “sluggish”, Leyland said, after hurting his a right quad within days of returning Sept. 1 from a month-long right thumb injury.
Boesch has the power potential Leyland wants–but not against Floyd, who is returning from a right elbow flexor strain.
“I’ve watched Raburn and he’s sluggish,” Leyland said. “I think the leg is still bothering him.”
Raburn, hitting only .171 in 66 games, has hit Floyd in the past [12-37, .324, with three RBI], “but I won’t play him even though he’s hit Floyd because I think he’s still sore,” Leyland said.
“I might DH him because he hits in this park [Raburn’s average in U.S. Cellular Field is .309 with eight homers and 30 RBI in 47 games].”
Lefty Boesch also has hit well at Sox Park (.286, four home runs, seven RBI in 20 games)–but not against Floyd.
“You’d like to play Boesch in this park, and he will play [Thursday] against Chris Sale]–but he’s 0-for-17 with six strikeouts against Floyd,” Leyland said.
“If you don’t play him and don’t play Raburn, you have to figure out what to do. I’ll probably play Boesch because in this park, he might hit a homer–but it’s a mindboggling thing when you look at the numbers.”
The numbers improved for the Tigers offensively Tuesday, their five runs almost as many as they had scored during the four-game road losing streak [four runs.]
“We did the things that usually add up to wins–good pitching and hitting the ball out of the park and getting a few more hits,” Leyland said. “That’s how you win games.”