For the second straight day, the Tigers sit in a tie with the Indians for first place in the American League Central. On Sunday, they kind of backed right into it because the pen struggled in their finale against the Mariners but fortunately, the Indians continue to sink quickly. Also of note is the White Sox aren’t too far behind. They sit 3 1/2 games back now (but five in the loss column to Detroit) and if I had to bet now, it’ll be the Sox and the Tigers duking it out in September.
Today marks the return of Magglio Ordonez. Enrique Gonzalez was sent down to Toledo and now we’ll see if Ordonez can be an effective player in this tail end of the first half. He was solid in his rehab stint (11 for 39 with two home runs). Hopefully the time off did him some good because he’ll face a solid rookie pitcher in Alex Cobb tonight. It’ll also be interesting to see where he bats in the lineup.
The Tigers had a chance to beat Felix Hernandez yesterday but a bad inning (partially thanks to a misplay by Ramon Santiago on a steal attempt) by Rick Porcello gave the Mariners the lead in the fifth and the Tigers could never recover. It was also disconcerting seeing Joaquin Benoit give up that two run shot because that put things out of reach and he had been throwing so well lately. Alex Avila had a nice day at the plate and he drove in runs on two different at bats and he even picked up his third stolen base of the season.
The Tigers take on the Rays tonight in a makeup game then the Indians roll into town. The Indians aren’t playing so a Tigers win puts them in sole possession of first place for the first time this year. Phil Coke throws for the Tigers.