The Detroit Tigers have managed just fine with Magglio Ordonez(notes) away from the team to deal with a family matter. With Armando Galarraga(notes) set to take the mound, though, they might want to have one of their best hitters penciled in.
The Tigers may have Ordonez back in the lineup as they try to extend their winning streak to eight Saturday night, and they may need a big game at the plate as Galarraga faces the Colorado Rockies in the middle game of an interleague series.
A six-time All-Star, Ordonez missed four games to be with his wife in Florida while she recovered from surgery and didn’t play in Detroit’s 4-3 win on Friday despite rejoining the team. The Tigers (24-16) now are in position to win eight in a row for the first time since 2007.
Detroit is atop the AL Central, four games in front of Kansas City, despite having to overcome the veteran right fielder’s slow start. Ordonez is batting .256 with just two homers and 17 RBIs after averaging 24 homers and 115 RBI over the previous three years.
In 156 interleague games, though, Ordonez is hitting .340 with 32 homers and 133 RBIs.
He was starting to heat up at the plate before leaving the team, batting .355 (11 for 31) in his last eight games, but hasn’t homered since April 27. The Tigers could use some more run production from Ordonez with Galarraga (3-3, 5.62 ERA) pitching.
Galarraga is 0-3 with a 10.90 ERA in his last four starts. On Sunday, the right-hander retired only two batters, allowing five runs and four hits while walking three before Detroit came back to beat Oakland 11-7.
“I won’t say that it isn’t a concern, but Armando is a fine major league pitcher,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I wish I knew what was wrong, but he’ll be fine.”
This will be Galarraga’s first appearance against the Rockies (16-25), who counter with Jason Marquis(notes) (5-3, 4.75) as he comes off one of his best starts of the season. He gave up one run and five hits in eight innings during a 5-1 win over Atlanta on Monday.
The right-hander surrendered 16 runs - 14 earned - in 9 2-3 innings en route to losing his previous two outings, but hadn’t lost his confidence.
“I feel like every time I get the ball, I’m going to shut them down,” Marquis said. “I’m out there every pitch battling.”
Marquis lost his only career start against the Tigers, yielding five runs and five hits in four innings for Atlanta in its 6-0 loss June 18, 2002.
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton(notes) went 0 for 4 the last time Marquis pitched, but has five hits in his last nine at-bats. He had two hits Friday to raise his average to .345 in 15 games against Detroit.