A surprisingly sluggish start to the season caused their manager to express his frustration, but Jim Leyland now appears to be happier with the direction of Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers look for their fifth win in six games on Saturday when they face the Toronto Blue Jays in the second of a four-game weekend series at Rogers Centre.
Instead, the Tigers opened the season with a seven-game losing streak.
They also dropped three of their following five games, culminating with two shutout losses. After Sunday’s 11-0 loss at Chicago, Leyland was heard screaming at his team in the clubhouse.
Detroit has won four of five games since that outburst, including an 8-4 victory at Toronto (8-9) in Friday’s series opener. After posting a .235 batting average with seven homers and 33 runs scored in their first 12 games of 2008, the Tigers are hitting .320 with eight homers and 39 runs over the past five contests.
“When we’re rolling, and we haven’t been rolling yet, we figure we can strike anytime and strike good,” Leyland said after Friday’s victory.
Cabrera, who went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI while celebrating his 25th birthday on Friday, is turning around his own slow start. The third baseman has gone 10-for-20 with two homers and 10 RBIs in the last five games after enduring a 7-for-40 slump with one homer and two RBIs through his previous 11 as a Tiger.
In four career games against the Blue Jays, he is 6-for-14 with a homer and three RBIs.
The Tigers now look to Jeremy Bonderman (1-1, 4.58 ERA) to help them continue their momentum and rebound from a poor outing.
The right-hander was tagged for seven runs - four earned - and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings Monday, before Detroit rallied with six runs in the bottom of the eighth for an 11-9 win over Minnesota.
Bonderman has been impressive in four career starts against the Jays, going 1-1 with a 2.54 ERA and a .196 opponent batting average.
Toronto, which is looking to avoid a season-high fourth straight loss, will give the ball to Dustin McGowan (0-1, 3.71).
All three of the right-hander’s starts have led to losses, including Monday’s 4-3 defeat at Baltimore, during which he allowed three runs and 10 hits, including a homer, in six innings.
“I guess you could say they hit me pretty well,” McGowan said. “I guess everybody’s got a team like that.”
McGowan has lost his last two starts against Detroit, allowing 14 runs and 11 hits over only 6 1-3 innings in those outings.