It started as a nice situation to be in. Miguel Cabrera up with two on and no one out in a 2-2 ball game against the Angles on Friday night. The big fella has been clutch all year, and you just know he’s going to do it again. Alas, Cabrera can only pop out to advance the runner. As it turns out, the big play came two batters later. Who was it? In steps Carlos Guillen. He rips a pitch to deep center, scoring two, and putting himself on third base. He’s moved a 3-2 nail biter to a 5-2 bulge.
Carlos wasn’t done yet though. He got RBIs in each of the next two innings, one off a double, the other a sacrifice fly. For the day, Guillen ended 2-4 with 4 RBIs. But, I think more importantly, he left Tigers fans with hope heading down the stretch.
There is no question this team looks much better with Guillen in the line-up. Though the Tigers are just 6-6 in the twelve games he’s played since returning from injury, its the addition of another solid bat that makes a Tigers’ fan feel more confident about the team’s outlook. Through those 12 games, Guillen is hitting .295, with 10 batted in, and a long ball. Not bad for a guy who has really seen live action since last August.
Not only that, he’s only made one error at second base thus far. Honestly, the Tiger’s have had so many different second basemen this year, I don’t even know if I could make comparisons in terms of runs, hits, errors, or other statistics. Raburn has tried. Sizemore was there for a stretch. I’m sure Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago have seen time at second as well. But as long as Guillen is healthy, it will be his spot to lose.
Assuming Guillen stays right around .300, think about the potential offensive line-up. Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Carlos Guillen, Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, and Wilson Betemit makes for a darn good 1-9. I know Magglio and A.J.s numbers don’t look great, but remember the awful starts. It can be hard to pull your average up when it’s down around .170 after April. Getting back to .240 is solid.
As the deadline looms, it’ll be interesting to see if a starter comes in. Verlander is still on an unidentified pitching planet right now. Porcello was 5-0 in July. Scherzer has been good the majority of the season. It’s a tough call to make on what to do about another arm in the rotation.
The two biggest question, outside any trade deadline moves, is first, will the improvement mentioned above continue, and second, can some of the aging stars stay healthy. The Tigers need to have Ordonez and Jackson continuing to raise their batting averages. Maybe more importantly, Carlos Guillen (and to an extent Magglio as well) has to stay out there. Because if Guillen’s on the field, the way Raburn has been this season, Ryan won’t be, and that might be the best news of all for the Tigers.