DETROIT -- Erick Aybar heated up with the bat in recent weeks. The Detroit Tigers hope their newest acquisition can keep that going throughout their playoff push.
The veteran infielder was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday and inserted into the lineup on Wednesday. He went 0-for-3 but reached base on a walk and an error as the Tigers lost 4-1 to the Kansas City Royals.
Aybar batted second and played shortstop, and he could play there regularly until Jose Iglesias recovers from an hamstring injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list last week. Aybar also could get starts at third base with Nick Castellanos on the DL due to a broken hand.
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He was hitting .242 with the Braves but posted a .313 average since the All-Star break before joining Detroit.
"The main reason for this move is to upgrade our utility position," Tigers general manager Al Avila said when the deal was made. "We feel Aybar could give us a little more offense."
There is a good chance Aybar will be in the lineup once again when the Tigers open a pivotal four-game series with the red-hot Boston Red Sox on Thursday. The longtime Los Angeles Angels shortstop is glad to be back in a pennant race.
"Atlanta was a different mindset because of the (rebuilding) phase up there," he said through an interpreter. "Coming here, it's a totally different mindset. You're trying to win."
Detroit is desperate for a victory after getting swept by the Royals in a three-game series. Meanwhile, Boston extended its winning streak to six games with an 8-1, rain-shortened win at Baltimore on Wednesday.
Left-hander Matt Boyd, who has been on an impressive run since the All-Star break, will start Thursday's matinee. Boyd (4-2) is 4-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his past six starts.
He had an outing he would like to forget in his only previous start against the Red Sox. While still a member of the Toronto Blue Jays last year, Boyd didn't record an out while allowing seven runs on six hits and a walk.
Boyd will be opposed by right-hander Clay Buchholz, who is temporarily back in the Boston rotation with All-Star Steven Wright on the DL due to a shoulder injury. Buchholz, who had been banished to a long relief role, started against Arizona on Saturday and lasted 4 1/3 innings while giving three runs.
Buchholz (4-9) made some mechanical adjustments that have improved his outlook. He is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA in 10 career outings against Detroit, including eight starts.
"I think I've found some stuff that I needed to work out," Buchholz told the Boston Herald. "Release point and just arm strength overall. I think it's gotten a little better as the weeks have gone on as I was moved out there (to the bullpen)."
Right fielder Mookie Betts kept his hot streak going Wednesday with three runs and two hits from the cleanup spot. Betts has at least one hit in all but one start since July 30, and he has hit five home runs over the past four games.
"He doesn't take on any added significance to the role or the spot in the lineup," Boston manager John Farrell said. "He's in some kind of spot right now the way he's seeing the baseball, the way he's making such hard contact."
Boston will be seeking some revenge after getting swept by the Tigers in a three-game series at Fenway Park in late July.