Tigers increase lead in AL Central

CLEVELAND — If the Detroit Tigers had to shore up a postseason pitching rotation, Doug Fister would likely be toward the top of it following another solid outing in a 4-2 win over Cleveland on Monday.

Fister was once again solid, giving up just four hits and one earned run in eight innings, improving to 7-13 on the year.

Fister, who was acquired from the Seattle Marines in July, has been 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA since joining the Tigers.

The win for the Tigers gives them a 7.5 game cushion in the American League Central, defeating the second place Indians. The win comes after the Tigers swept the Chicago White Sox over the weekend.

Detroit got a big three-run homer from Victor Martinez in the top of the fourth inning to give them a 3-0 lead. The Tigers wouldn’t look back, as Fister maintaining control the rest of the way until turning it over to Jose Valverde, who pitched a perfect ninth for his 41st save of the season.

The weekend series against Chicago was capped off in style, with the Tigers taking the finale 18-2.

On Saturday, Wilson Betermit and Delmon Young belted homers to keep the Tigers close going into the bottom of the ninth. Ryan Raburn smacked a two-run homer to tie the game. Two batters later, Miguel Cabrera belted a walkoff homer. It was the first time this season a team has won a game on a walk-off home run after there had been a game-tying homer during that half-inning.

“That was one of those magical wins that happens about once every five years,” Tiger manager Leyland said.

It was a vindication of sorts for Leyland who has been second-guessed at times for his extensive use of Raburn, who is at .239 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs.

“He has a pretty good record hitting the second half. He’s one of those guys who gets a little streaky, but he gets streaky with home runs too,” Leyland said. “He can do what he did (Saturday). He knows we have a lot of confidence in him maybe more than he does in himself at times. He’s a talented guy. He’s a pretty good runner. He’ a great thrower. He’d probably be better in the outfield, to be honest with you. But he has power. He has juice in his bat. This guy’s a pretty good player. You have to try to play him right. He’s done a pretty good job for us.

“Early on, the frustration level is high, that happened to a lot of people in baseball this year. A lot weren’t hitting early in the season. Everybody was wondering about them. He is who he is. He’s a nice player and I like him a lot.”

But prior to Sunday’s game, Leyland insisted the White Sox were still a threat.

“It’s not going to kill the spirit of this team because they have Mark Buehrle pitching tonight,” Leyland said prior to Sunday’s game. “It’s a dangerous game for us. Normally after a dramatic win like that, you come out flat. Today’s a dangerous game because we have a good pitcher throwing against us. (Saturday) was one of those magical wins that happens about once every five years.”

But Sunday night, the Tigers reached season highs with 18 runs scored and 24 hits and Buehrle didn’t last through the fourth inning. Max Scherzer won his 14th game. Cabrera had a two-run homer and four RBI. Andy Dirks smacked a two run-homer and also had four RBI. Alex Avila had a career-high four hits and two RBI. Victor Martinez added three hits and two RBI.

“It was one of those days where we got all the breaks in the world,” Scherzer said. “It is only one game. To put up 18 runs is great. But the rest of September is going to be great.”

One negative news from over the weekend was the revelation that Brennan Boesch, nursing a ligament injury in his thumb, is likely to undergo surgery soon and won’t play for the rest of the season.

“We’ll be without him the rest of the way, it looks like,” Leyland said.

Boesch admits it won’t be easy not being an active player in the remaining weeks of the season.

“I’m going to be the best cheerleader we’ve got,” he said. “It’s hard but we have such a good team I know whoever is out there will pick me up. I’ve asked the team to be able to stay and travel with the team. They’ve obliged that which I’m grateful for. I’m going to be here every step of the way. I just won’t be on the field.”

 

Pioneer Sports Writer John Raffel contributed to this story

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