Much of the Detroit Tigers' success lately has come off the bat of slugger Miguel Cabrera. The third baseman, though, recently had a rough day at the plate and will try to get back in the groove tonight in the opener of a three-game interleague series versus the Colorado Rockies.
The Tigers won their second straight series by taking the final two matchups with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and finished the road trip with a 4-2 mark thanks to Thursday's 5-3 triumph. Cabrera went 0-for-5 and entered the game batting .358 with six homers, 13 doubles and 29 RBI in his previous 32 games. His 48 hits during the surge led the American League.
Austin Jackson picked up the slack and finished 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI for the Tigers, who have won five of seven games since dropping seven of nine contests. Ryan Raburn was recalled from Triple-A Toledo when starter Drew Smyly landed on the disabled list with a blister on his left middle finger, and finished with two hits, an RBI and a run scored.
"You've got to take it game by game. We can't try to do too much," Jackson said. "We've definitely been battling these last couple months. We've been going out there and putting up the effort, and if we do that we'll be in a good spot at the end of the year."
Detroit is four games off the lead in the AL Central and saw Justin Verlander return to form with eight innings of two-run ball. The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner struck out eight batters and did not issue a walk. Verlander was 0-3 in four starts before improving to 6-4.
Jose Valverde received his 13th save despite yielding a run in the ninth.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland is now one victory away of matching Ralph Houk for 15th-most all-time in major league history with 1,619 wins. Leyland leads all active managers with 1,617 wins.
The Tigers are also slated to host St. Louis on their homestand and will open the residency with Casey Crosby on the hill tonight. The rookie left-hander is 1-1 in two starts with a lofty 9.35 earned run average and is taking the place of starter Doug Fister (side strain), who is expected to pitch on Saturday.
Crosby lost his MLB debut on June 1 versus the New York Yankees, but tasted victory six days later in a 7-5 win over Cleveland in which he allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings. Crosby will try to leave a good impression on the team in hopes of keeping a spot in the rotation.
Colorado hopes to halt a season-high eight-game losing streak by rattling the Tigers' young pitcher and will begin a 10-day, nine-game road trip this evening. The Rockies will also visit Philadelphia and Texas.
The Rockies are coming off back-to-back sweeps at the hands of the LA Angels of Anaheim and Oakland Athletics, and dropped an 8-2 decision to the A's on Thursday at Coors Field. Alex White labored through four innings and gave up four runs -- two earned -- and seven hits to fall to 2-5.
"I think we were getting hit a little bit too much today," said White. "We tried to stay in this game here and it just got away from us."
Marco Scutaro homered and Tyler Colvin drove in the other run for Colorado, which got two hits from Chris Nelson. The Rox are riding their longest losing streak since dropping nine straight from Sept. 15-23, 2011. They are 0-9 in interleague play this season.
Jeff Francis will make his second start for the Rockies tonight since they signed him last week. Francis pitched for Kansas City last year and spent his first six seasons in the major leagues with Colorado. The left-hander made his 2012 debut in Saturday's 11-5 loss against the Angels and was rocked for eight runs and 10 hits through 3 1/3 innings.
A first-round draft pick of the Rockies back in 2002, Francis is 0-2 with a 3.08 earned run average in four career starts against Detroit.
Colorado won two of three meetings with Detroit a year ago at Coors Field and has prevailed in four of the last five matchups in this series.