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Alex Avila's 2 home runs leads Tigers to 7-6 come from behind win over Rays

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Final - 5.24.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tampa Bay Rays 0 0 1 2 0 3 0 0 0 6 12 1
Detroit Tigers 0 1 0 0 3 1 0 2 X 7 10 4
WP: Al Alburquerque (1 - 1)
SV: Joaquin Benoit (1)
LP: Cesar Ramos (0 - 1)

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BOX

KEY STAT

Miguel Cabrera's home run in the 5th was the Tigers' FIRST three run shot of the season. Better late than never.

KEY PLAY

It can be nothing other than...3rd base coach Gene Lamont waving home Andy Dirks for an inside the park fly out. WHAT. THE. HELL?

Seriously, it has to be Alex Avila's second home run of the game, an 8th inning, two-run shot over the left field wall, giving the Tigers the lead, and the win. It was a huge night for the young catcher, going yard twice with three RBI. We won't mention the two errors....

KEY THOUGHTS

Justin Verlander is an elite pitcher...but he wasn't tonight. 6 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 K, is not what we've come to expect from the Tigers' ace. Six runs is the most Verlander has allowed in an appearance since April 2010. But the offense and amazingly, the bullpen, bailed him out.

The Tigers defense was God awful (Save for Dirks' marvelous diving catch in the 2nd), committing four errors. Two came on one run scoring play, when Avila and Scott Sizemore decided to see who could make a worse throw. The official scorer is still trying to figure it out. You aren't going to win many games playing such shaky defense. The Tigers caught a break in doing so tonight.

Jhonny Peralta continues to just plain play well. The man with an extra H in his name was solid on defense, while adding a hit and two runs scored.

The bottom of the order was an offensive juggernaut for the Tigers. Peralta, Avila and Sizemore were a combined 5-10, with four runs scored, along with three ribbies and two dingers.

Matt Joyce wants to make the Tigers pay, and pay dearly, for trading him The Rays' right fielder was 3-4, with a home run and two RBI. He's become a Tiger killer.

In a surprising development, the bullpen was solid. Daniel Schelerth struck out two in an uneventful 7th. But after loading the bases with one out in the 8th (I'm not sure why Schlereth was sent out for second inning to begin with...I'm looking at you, Jim Leyland), Al Alburquerque was called in to put out the fire.

Alburquerque got a badly needed strike out, then a ground out (with help with a timely assist from Jhonny Peralta on a deflection), to get out of the inning unscathed. Alburquerque keeping the Rays off the scoreboard was ultimately the difference in the game, and he got credit for a much deserved win.

A few days ago, a struggling Joaquin Benoit was supposed to be figuring things out by only throwing in low leverage situations. Tonight, with Jose Valverde unavailable after pitching in three of the last four games (including a strenuous 28 pitch performance Monday) Benoit was the closer. And close out the game he did, getting Evan Longoria to ground into a force after a two out Johnny Damon single. Benoit still doesn't look fully comfortable, but he's really stepped up when needed the past couple of games.

The Tigers have a chance to sweep the three game series with the Rays tomorrow afternoon. Their entire season has been streaky, essentially "Lose a bunch, win a bunch, repeat." So the Tigers are due for another long winning streak.

And "Forrest" Dirks is still running, as Lieutenant Lamont waves him on...