Despite his best offensive stretch of the season, Gary Sheffield has made more news for an off-field controversy than his on-field performance the last few days.
Sheffield looks to close out Detroit’s 10-game road trip in strong fashion Thursday when the Tigers complete a three-game series with the struggling Texas Rangers.
The veteran slugger homered twice in the first three innings, and had five RBIs in Detroit’s 10-0 win on Wednesday. Sheffield is 13-for-35 (.371) on the road trip with six homers and 15 RBIs, and he gave the Tigers (33-25) a chance to salvage a split on this trip with a victory Thursday.
“Gary had a huge night,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It was good to get those runs early and Verlander did a great job with the lead.”
Both of Sheffield’s multihomer games this season have come on this trip, and the five RBIs matched a season high set May 29 at Tampa Bay, where his other multihomer game occurred..
Sheffield caused a stir earlier this week with his comments from an interview published in GQ magazine, in which he said there were more Latin players than blacks in baseball because Major League Baseball found it easier to “control them.”
On Tuesday, Sheffield insisted he wasn’t trying to offend anyone.
“The subject was players of my race and what we deal with and why they don’t look in the inner cities for that same talent that they do in other places,” he said. “(Latin players) have a backing, a support when they come off the island, and black players don’t. As far as authority figures, we’re only going to respond to people who care about us. That’s what I meant by it.”
Leyland insisted on the Tigers’ official Web site that Sheffield was not a distraction and “has never one time been a problem for me.”
The team is still waiting for the league to rule on Sheffield’s appeal of a three-game suspension after throwing his bat at plate umpire Greg Gibson last Thursday.
Mike Maroth (3-2, 5.28 ERA) will try to end a personal three-start winless streak for the Tigers. The left-hander allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings of a 12-11 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday, and did not factor in the decision.
Maroth has given up five or more runs in four of his last five starts. He is 1-3 with an 8.67 ERA in six appearances—five starts—against the Rangers.
Texas, which has the worst record in the majors at 21-38, has lost 11 of its last 14 games and was denied consecutive victories for the first time since May 20-21.
“We’ve been dealing with adversity for a while,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’ve got games left on the schedule and we’re going to show up. We’ll be back (Thursday) and hopefully make a difference.”
Kameron Loe (1-5, 6.37), who is 0-5 with a 7.29 ERA in his last eight starts, will try again for his first victory since April 21. The right-hander lasted 5 1-3 innings against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday, allowing five runs and eight hits in the 5-4 loss.
The Rangers have scores three runs or less in seven of Loe’s nine starts. He has allowed one run in three relief appearances versus the Tigers, spanning 2 1-3 innings.