The Tigers look for their first four-game winning streak in nearly two months as they continue a three-game series with the slumping Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
Granderson had two hits, including a seventh-inning homer—his 20th—as the Tigers (76-65) posted a 6-1 victory over the Mariners (74-65) on Friday. The center fielder, who is hitting .406 (13-for-32) in his last eight games, became just the sixth player since 1900 with at least 20 homers, 20 triples and 20 doubles in one season.
He also has 19 steals, and his next one will make him just the third player to reach 20 in those four categories, along with Willie Mays and Frank Schulte.
“As he goes, this team goes,” designated hitter Gary Sheffield said.
Granderson helped back a solid start by Justin Verlander, who pitched eight innings despite a 31-minute rain delay in the fifth. Detroit’s previous three starters had failed to make it past the sixth during a series with the White Sox earlier this week.
The Tigers have won three straight and seven of their last 12 to remain in the wild card race.
“We’re starting to get our confidence level high, like it was last year, as we feel the excitement of trying to get in like last year,” Granderson said. “This is exactly where we want to be.”
Detroit’s hopes to defend its AL title have been helped by the Mariners, who have lost three straight and 12 of their last 13. Detroit remained three games behind the New York Yankees for the wild card and moved one game ahead of Seattle for second place.
The Tigers will try to win four straight for the first time since July 15-19 when they send Nate Robertson (7-11, 4.95 ERA) to the mound.
Robertson is 0-2 over his last four starts, and the Tigers are 0-4 in those outings. In two of the starts, he allowed five or more runs, but he also had two solid appearances.
The left-hander threw 8 2-3 scoreless innings on Aug. 23 against the Cleveland Indians, and allowed just two runs and four hits in six innings against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday. He failed to receive a decision in either of those starts, including Sunday’s 8-7 loss.
Robertson is 4-3 with a 3.26 ERA in seven career starts against the Mariners. He allowed six runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings against them on May 9 in a 9-2 loss.
Jeff Weaver (6-11, 5.85) will counter for Seattle, trying to bounce back after consecutive starts without a win. Weaver won four consecutive starts from Aug. 7-23, but he’s struggled in his last two outings, failing to make it out of the fifth in either.
The right-hander lasted just three innings last Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing five runs and eight hits—including two homers—in the 6-4 loss. He has given up eight homers in his last four games.
“Obviously home runs are hurting me right now,” Weaver said. “They jumped on me early and it was too much damage.”
Weaver is 1-4 with a 5.46 ERA in five starts against the Tigers. He’s 0-2 with an 11.70 ERA in two starts this year.