–DH Victor Martinez is showing signs at the plate and on the bases that his left knee sprain is on the mend. Two home runs and 10 RBI in three games at Cleveland are one indication that the injury he has been playing through since early August is getting close to healed. But an equally important sign is that manager Jim Leyland put on a hit-and-run Tuesday with C Alex Avila at bat in the first inning. Martinez made it to third on a single to center. “I wouldn’t have done that a week ago,” Leyland said. “We wouldn’t have done it if he wasn’t OK.” It doesn’t mean Martinez is ready to catch, though.
–1B Miguel Cabrera’s streak of reaching base is at 34 consecutive games, the longest for Detroit since 2B Damion Easley’s 34 in 1998. The longest before that was OF Chad Curtis’ 41-game streak in 1995. Cabrera is also heating up offensively. Detroit has won six straight games and Cabrera has at least one RBI in each of them. “Cabrera might be the MVP,” Cleveland LF/1B Shelley Duncan said.
–RHP Brad Penny will start in turn Friday against Minnesota, as manager Jim Leyland has decided to keep his rotation in order. Detroit was off Thursday but Leyland said he wasn’t going to adjust his rotation, so Penny, RHP Max Scherzer and RHP Doug Fister will face the Twins, with RHPs Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander pitching at Chicago against the White Sox. Should Leyland want to move his starters around, the Tigers are scheduled to have Sept. 19 off.
–LHP Duane Below has been something less than perfect since his streak of retiring 23 consecutive batters came to an end. Below allowed two runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings Aug. 29 and gave up two runs on three hits Sunday in Detroit’s 18-2 victory over Chicago. Infrequent usage may be a contributor to that.
–C Omir Santos is supposed to catch one of this weekend’s games against Minnesota, giving C Alex Avila a day off. Santos has caught two games for Detroit this season. He figures to see most of his action as a late-inning sub in one-sided games, so Avila can get an inning off here and there.
–INF Danny Worth entered Wednesday’s game as a defensive replacement at second base in the seventh inning. He blooped a single to center in the eighth, giving him 10 hits in 31 at-bats in his three tours of duty with the Tigers this season. Worth doesn’t figure to get many starts the remainder of the way, if any, but he’ll continue to see action as a defensive replacement at second and short.
BY THE NUMBERS
25 — RBI by DH Victor Martinez with the bases loaded this season. His grand slam gave Detroit a 7-4 lead Wednesday in a game it won 8-6 over Cleveland, making him 9-for-15 in those situations this year.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“He didn’t waste any time. He got a pitch to hit and he jumped on it. That’s what he does. He’s a big-time hitter in big situations.” — Manager Jim Leyland, on the grand slam hit by DH Victor Martinez that put Detroit ahead 7-4 for the first time in the Wednesday’s game. Martinez hit a first-pitch fastball thrown by Cleveland LHP Tony Sipp.
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