(Courtesy of Fangraphs.com)
Earned His Tiger Stripes: Sheff 3-6, 2 HR (12), 5 RBI (29), .196 WPA
Tonight it would take a good beating of the Rays to push the memory of last night's outcome just a bit farther back in our minds. Well, we got one, in the form of a 22-hit, 14-run offensive performance only matched by the four hit and one earned run performance by the pitching staff.
The star of this contest was none other than Gary Sheffield -- a Tampa native -- whose slow start created a sort of concern for the Tigers when it didn't seem we were getting the veteran production out of a bat that was once looked at as one of the best in the game. On the first of May Sheffield was hitting an appaling .191. Since that day he has hit at a .314 clip, knocking out ten homers and driving in 21. If he can continue this, as well as continue to help out Maggs in the lineup, I think we'll be pretty content with Sheff's production this season.
While pretty much everything was a positive this evening, the stat line for Jeremy Bonderman was once again very, very good. He moved to 4-0 on the season with a 6.1 inning, four hit and one earned run performance -- he also struck out eight while not surrendering one walk. This was his fourth consecutive win after not getting a decision in his first five starts. His last two starts, which came after missing a start due to a blister on his middle finger, looks something like this: 14.1 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 14 Ks. The Tigers have a nice little battle going between Bonderman and Justin Verlander (5-1, 2.72), both trying to prove they are the staff ace on this very talented group of starters.
This was just the Tigers' night, from the first inning on. Once Sheffield deposited a Casey Fossum (who was severely outmatched this evening) pitch into the left field stands in his first at bat, the blowout was on. I was glad to see them keep their foot down on the gas-pedal this evening, instead of allowing doubt to slowly creep in as they couldn't extend any kind of lead.
Tomorrow night should be a tough one. James Shields is no joke. He is the Rays' best starter this season, so Nate will have to bring some of his best stuff -- nothing like his last performance when he gave up three homers and five runs to the Tribe on Friday night.
Up Next: Tomorrow night vs. Rays, 7:10 pm EST