The Detroit Tigers are compensating for lackluster pitching -- particularly out of the bullpen -- with some impressive numbers at the plate.
Torii Hunter and Rajai Davis try for another big offensive display Saturday as the Tigers play the second of a three-game set against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.Detroit (12-8) is hitting .333 with 12 doubles, four homers and 29 runs scored while winning three of its last four games. Those numbers have been quite an improvement for the Tigers, who averaged 3.3 runs and batted .240 in dropping seven of the previous 12.The output has helped Detroit ovecome its bullpen's 8.25 ERA in the past four games.The Tigers pounded the ball again in the opener of this set Friday, collecting 15 hits with four doubles in a 10-6 win over the Twins (11-11)."We just got pitches that we could drive," said Hunter, who doubled on two of his three hits and drove in two runs.Hunter is 9 for 22 (.409) with three doubles over the past five games, and he's 13 for 25 with five doubles, one homer and seven RBIs in his past five at Minnesota.Davis also seems to enjoy his visits to Minneapolis, hitting .343 in 21 career contests after going 9 for 18 over the past five. The journeyman outfielder had three hits in the series opener, giving him eight over the past three overall and raising his season average 60 points to .354.Miguel Cabrera is 8 for 18 with seven RBIs in the last four games, matching the amount of hits he had in 51 at-bats over the 13 previous contests. The two-time reigning AL MVP is 14 for 25 with five homers off Phil Hughes, who will start this game for Minnesota.The Tigers could stay hot at the plate against a Twins staff that is among the worst in baseball with a 5.14 ERA. Minnesota's starters have an AL-worst 6.32 mark.Hughes (1-1, 6.43 ERA) attempts to improve on those numbers and win back-to-back starts for the first time in almost a year.The right-hander allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings of Sunday's 8-3 win at Kansas City, earning his first victory since a 7-3 win July 2 at Minnesota while with the New York Yankees. He was 0-8 with a 6.46 ERA in 17 games -- 16 starts -- between wins.Hughes hasn't won consecutive starts since May 4-10. He also hasn't defeated the Tigers since June 3, 2012, compiling a 6.89 ERA while losing all four starts since then, including Game 3 of the 2012 AL championship series.He's struggled against Hunter, allowing him to go 6 for 14, while Davis is 6 for 16 with three doubles over the past two years.Detroit is expected to counter Hughes with Anibal Sanchez (0-2, 3.54).The right-hander appeared headed for his first victory Monday, allowing one hit in six scoreless innings before giving up three runs and getting pulled with one out in the seventh of a 3-1 defeat to the Chicago White Sox."He was pitching really well," catcher Alex Avila told the team's official website. "Nice location on a couple of pitches there, left them up and they made him pay for it."Sanchez owns a 1.72 ERA while splitting two decisions over his last six starts against the Twins, and that includes no record despite a 1.47 ERA in three games in Minnesota.
Phil Hughes has allowed a .350 opponent batting average in at-bats ending with a pitch down in the zone or below, 5th-highest in MLB. Rajai Davis is hitting a league-high .450 (9-for-20) against pitches down in the zone or below.