Look, I know he's probably the fourth outfielder on this team. And maybe he's been the beneficiary of some crappy pitching from the Chicago White Sox. But Ryan Raburn is playing like a guy who has to stay in the lineup, and you have to wonder if the Tigers need to find ways to keep him on the field right now. At least get everything out of him that you can while he's hot.
I realize it's a small sample size to work with, but in his short Tigers career thus far, if Raburn is in the starting lineup, he's getting a hit. Apparently, those four games were just a warm-up, the wick burning closer and closer to the dynamite stick. And tonight, well... boom went the dynamite.
Raburn went 4-for-5 with two home runs and seven RBI. At the risk of taking another shot at Craig Monroe while he's still down (he struck out twice tonight), consider that Raburn racked up almost as many RBIs in one night as C-Mo has for the month of July (eight). And he's hit the same number of home runs.
US Cellular Field: Where Pitching Goes to Die
The Tigers needed virtually every one of Raburn's RBIs too, playing another three-and-a-half hour slugfest in the launching pad that used to be called Comiskey Park.
Tonight, the ballpark claimed Kenny Rogers as its latest victim, as he served up four home runs to the White Sox. If they got the ball in the air toward right field, it was going out. And if you didn't know what Ryan Raburn's number was before the game, you had plenty of chances to check out the back of his jersey as he kept chasing balls to the fence.
I made a crack in tonight's game thread (where I'll be chiming in much more after buying a new laptop) that the White Sox must have some giant fan behind the plate that blows out to right field when the home team is batting. I know - US Cellular Field has been a major home run haven. It's nothing new. I guess I'd just forgotten, since it'd been so long since the Tigers had played there. It almost makes Citizens Bank Park seem fair.
Right field jetstream aside, do we need to start asking tough questions about Rogers now? In his last three starts, he's given up 17 runs in 15 1/3 innings.
Call Him... The Vulture!
Despite giving up another two runs after taking over for Rogers, drizzling gas all over the fire like a gardener watering flowers, Jason Grilli somehow got the win tonight. Throw that in with Monday's effort, in which he let the go-ahead run score by nailing Rob Mackowiak in the back. But in both games, he settled down, followed up with a scoreless inning, and nabbed the decision.
The pitching highlight of the evening, however, was the newly bespectacled Tim Byrdak throwing two hitless innings and notching his first save of the season. Love those glasses! Dude looked like a taxman attending Tigers fantasy camp. Byrdak hadn't been throwing very well before going on the disabled list, but if he can come back and be the pitcher he was when first joining the team from Toledo, that could be a big boost for the bullpen. And maybe - just maybe - that would lessen the need to trade for another reliever.