After a slow start to the season, the Tigers needed their ace to settle things down, and after a quiet game on Monday, the bats needed to wake up and provide some run support.
The team got both, and in turn cruised to a win.
Justin Verlander was excellent, going eight innings, allowing three runs on just four hits, while falling one strikeout shy of a double digit strikeout effort. It was his first win of the young season after getting a no-decision in the season opener against the Yankees.
Verlander got plenty of help at the plate, first from Alex Avila, and then later from Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Avila got the Tigers on the board early and often, driving in the first four runs of the game in the first four innings. Avila helped chase starter Brad Bergesen after less than four innings of work.
Cabrera and Martinez added back-to-back solo home runs to pad the lead, and Avila completed the scoring with an RBI single to score Ryan Raburn in the eighth.
Joaquin Benoiit relieved Verlander in the ninth and tossed a 1-2-3 inning to complete the game and seal up the victory.
Questions had emerged about Alex Avila from the first day of spring training, wondering whether or not he could hit enough to be team's everyday starting catcher. He did little to answer those questions in spring training, and started the season just 1-for-10. But on Wednesday, Avila turned everything upside down, going 3-for-4 with a double, home run, and driving in five runs total. He gave the Tigers and Verlander an early 4-0 cushion, driving in two from his double, and then two more via the home run, and the team never looked back.
Key AB's Of The Game
Key AB's Of The Game
Bottom 2, Brad Bergesen (RHP) vs. Alex Avila (LHB)
Manager Jim Leyland said prior to the game he wanted Alex to be more aggressive at the plate – and he was just that in this seven pitch at-bat. Bergesen mixed in pitches against most hitters, but against Avila, he went after him with six straight fastballs. Avila quickly fell behind 1-2 after a swing and miss on the third pitch, but fouled off two straight 91-mph four seamers, took a ball, and then got another 91-mph four seamer on the inner half of the plate that he turned around for a double off of the left field wall.
Bottom 6, Justin Verlander (RHP) vs. Vladimir Guerrero (RHB) The Standings
The pitch sequence isn't as notable as the play itself in this case. Guerrero took a slider well out of the strike zone and punched it into right field, bringing home a run and making the game 6-3. The run scored easily, but Avila still let the throw to the plate get away from him, which had Guerrero trying to take second base, but on a very close play, Jhonny Peralta was able to get the tag down just before Guerrero's foot got to the bag, good for the third out. Had the Tigers not gotten him, Matt Wieters would have come to the plate with a man in scoring position down just three runs, and it might have been a different ballgame.
2-3, tied for 4th in the AL Central