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Game 113 Preview: It’s a new day in Detroit

No, it wasn’t a dream: the Tigers fired Al Avila yesterday (and still lost).

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Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Tigers are looking to avoid a series sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Guardians Thursday afternoon, but that’s not what most of the fan base is talking about following an eventful Wednesday for the organization.

No, I’m not talking about the rather lackluster call-up of Kerry Carpenter, who struck out three times in his major league debut. I’m talking about the firing of now former general manager Al Avila, which came out just hours before yesterday's first pitch. Many fans had been clamoring for a change in the front office after a five-year rebuild failed to the tune of Detroit’s 43-69 record. Christopher Ilitch, the son of Mike Ilitch, who has seen little success since taking over his father’s teams, made the call to ax Avila and said an extensive search will commence to find the next leader of the team’s baseball operations.

There’s no guarantee that the next guy will be better than Ilitch, but it’s hard to imagine someone doing any worse. Perhaps I’ll learn to regret those words, but everyone would agree that the team wasn’t headed in the right direction.

Technically, Wednesday night’s game was the first of the new era, or maybe it was the first of a transition period that people aren’t likely to remember — a lame duck period. Either way, it feels like there’s hope once again for the Tigers. Or at least more than there was at the beginning of yesterday, and that’s a good thing for everyone involved.

Detroit Tigers (43-69) at Cleveland Guardians (58-52)

Time/Place: 1:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Covering the Corner
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Garrett Hill (2-3, 5.12 ERA) vs. Zach Plesac (2-10, 4.49 ERA)

Game 113 Pitching Matchup

Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Player IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Hill 31.2 12.3 10.1 5.52 -0.1
Plesac 108.1 17.6 7.0 4.32 0.8

Right-hander Garrett Hill is on the bump for Detroit today. He’s gone at least five innings in each of his six MLB starts this season but hasn’t ever lasted more than the six frames he threw in his debut. His last outing against Tampa Bay was his second-best of the season and the first game in a month that he didn’t give up multiple runs.

Hill isn’t great at much, but he’s solid enough to keep the Tigers in the game if the offense can put up three runs. The problem is Detroit’s offense falls anemic every other game (okay, more often than that), and there’s only so much playing from behind a team can do until they lose. That’s what happened on Wednesday in a 3-2 loss during which the Tigers’ bullpen set down 20-straight Guardians.

For Cleveland, Zach Plesac is looking to get his third win of the season and first since the start of June. His last two outings against the Tigers have seen carried success. On Independence Day, Plesac held Detroit to just two runs over six frames of work, but Terry Francona pulled him after 3 23 innings less than two weeks later after giving up a five-spot to the Tigers.

Hopefully, Plesac is more Hyde than Jekyll and gives the Tigers a shot to take the season-series lead back. Last night’s loss brought things even at seven games apiece.

There are the usual silver-lining storylines to focus on in this one. Riley Greene hasn’t been able to deliver in the final moments of the game twice in the last week, but he has been the spark for plenty of comebacks to get the Tigers within range of tying up the ball game. He continues to track down balls in center field and deserves to be Detroit’s center fielder until someone displaces him.

Kerry Carpenter will also be looking to notch his first career hit in front of his family before the Tigers hit the road and head to Chicago. He’s back in the designated hitter spot and should get plenty of time in the lineup as Miguel Cabrera continues to heal from his knee injury.