Game 33: Avila shows some aggressiveness
At some point in this Tigers homestand, Alex Avila will have his 1500th plate appearance in the big leagues. Until Friday, he had put a 3-0 pitch in play in just two of those. The first was an RBI double in 2011. The second was a sacrifice fly last year.
Then with two runners on base on Friday, after Corey Kluber strangely spent his first three pitches trying to get Avila to chase pitches off the plate, Avila knew he was going to get a pitch he could hit and jumped it.
“Obviously in that situation, you’re going to green-light him,” Jim Leyland said. “He was selective and he got a good pitch to hit, and he did what you’re supposed to do with it, pull it. You’re not supposed to hit a 3-0 pitch in most cases to left field. You’re supposed to look for something you can turn on, and he turned on it and hit it good.
“He’s swung better the last few days. He hit the big home run in Houston. He swung the bat extremely well [Thursday], didn’t get anything to show for it really. So he’s swinging better.”
For what it’s worth, Avila has been productive in three-ball counts this year: 30 plate appearances, nine walks, eight hits, two doubles and a home run, with a .381 (8-for-21) average, more than 100 points above his career mark. He’s 13-for-32 (.406) hitting when he’s ahead in the count. In situations, his selectiveness is paying off.
Play of the game: Though Prince Fielder’s home run was the majestic drive, Nick Swisher and Terry Francona both said Miguel Cabrera’s three-run homer was the crushing blow, turning a 4-2 game into a 7-2 rout.
Outs of the game: Actually, there were eight of them in a row from Max Scherzer, and they came in the middle innings while the Tigers were pulling away. Considering Scherzer criticized himself twice this season for struggling to come back effectively after sitting during a long rally, that effectiveness, particularly in the sixth inning, was huge. Scherzer technically didn’t finish with a quality start, allowing four runs over eight innings, but it was exactly what the Tigers needed in another rout behind him.
“When the big innings happened, I was able to throw up a zero or allow them a run, keep it to minimal damage at best,” Scherzer said. “And typically they’re quick innings.”
Line of the game: Scherzer allowed four runs, but on just five hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. Four of the five hits went for extra bases, including a double and a triple from Nick Swisher, and Swisher followed his triple by scoring on a groundout. The Indians added two more run-scoring outs in the seventh.
Stat of the game: 40 — RBIs for Miguel Cabrera through 33 games, the second-highest total ever by a Tiger through that many games. Hank Greenberg drove in 41 runs over the Tigers’ first 33 games in 1937. He finished with 183 RBIs that season.