The veteran sluggers try to lead the Tigers to their third straight victory Tuesday night when they continue their home series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Sheffield, a nine-time All-Star with 457 career home runs, was Detroit’s (14-11) premier offseason acquisition after being acquired from the New York Yankees in November. Sheffield struggled early with Detroit, as his batting average dipped to .119 on April 21.
However, the 20-year-veteran, who is batting third as the Tigers’ designated hitter, has been hitting his stride since then. Sheffield is batting .385 (10-for-26) with 12 runs over his last seven games.
He went 1-for-2 with three runs in Monday night’s series opener. The hit was a two-run homer - his first since April 7 - in the fifth inning, putting Detroit ahead en route to an 8-4 victory.
Ordonez, the right fielder who bats cleanup behind Sheffield, went 2-for-2 with two walks and two RBIs to continue his stellar play. It was his fifth multihit game in the last seven and his fifth game with at least two RBIs in the last six - a hot streak which earned him AL player of the week honors Monday.
“I don’t think I’ve had a start like this,” Ordonez, whose .276 career April average entering 2007 was his lowest of any month, told the Tigers’ official Web site. “I always started really slow and then started swinging the bat in the warm weather.”
Ordonez, who raised his season average to .344 on Monday, is a .301 lifetime hitter in May.
Chad Durbin (1-1, 6.65 ERA) takes the mound Tuesday for Detroit attempting to follow up easily his best outing of the season.
The right-hander, who entered the rotation when a blood clot forced Kenny Rogers onto the disabled list, compiled a 10.54 ERA and .351 opponent batting average through his first three starts. He fared far better against the White Sox at Chicago on Wednesday, when he gave up only three hits and struck out a career-high nine over eight scoreless innings of Detroit’s 6-2 victory.
Durbin has struggled in his career against the Orioles, though, going 1-4 with a 7.20 ERA in six appearances, including four starts. One of those starts was his 2007 debut, a 6-2 loss at Camden Yards on April 9 in which he gave up six runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Orioles left-hander Adam Loewen (2-0, 3.20) did not allow a run over five innings when he faced the Tigers on April 11, but received no offensive support and did not factor in Baltimore’s 4-1 defeat in 12 innings.
The Orioles (12-14) have scored a total of just two runs for Loewen this season in the three starts where he hasn’t gotten a decision. He yielded one run and two hits in six innings of a 5-2 loss against Boston on Thursday.
He walked five in that contest, continuing his control difficulties. Loewen has issued 24 walks and hit three batters in 25 1-3 innings this season.
In Monday’s series opener, Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera walked a season-high six batters in five innings and also hit Sheffield with a pitch.
“We need to get our guys to trust their stuff and throw it over the plate,” said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo, whose pitching staff has issued an AL-high 121 bases on balls. “We have too many games with way too many walks.”
Monday’s loss was the second straight and seventh in eight games for the Orioles.