If Magglio Ordonez(notes) can end his season-long struggles, it would certainly be a major boost for Detroit. At least the Tigers can expect some production from their once-feared slugger against the Baltimore Orioles.
Ordonez and the Tigers continue to push their way out of a batting slump in the finale of a four-game series with the Orioles on Thursday.
Detroit (56-50) scored three runs or fewer in five of 10 games entering Wednesday night’s contest with Baltimore (45-62). The Tigers didn’t have a breakout game, but did go 2 for 5 with runners in scoring position while getting a clutch homer from Ordonez in a 4-2 victory.
“Those were some big hits,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said of his struggling lineup. “Maggs had a big hit. … That’s what we needed.”
Ordonez is having his worst season, batting .261 with six homers and 34 RBIs. He’s a career .310 hitter who has had seven 100-RBI seasons.
The veteran right fielder, though, is hitting .458 in six games against the Orioles this year. His homer in the fifth inning broke a scoreless tie, and it was his first since connecting against Seattle on July 21.
Ordonez has never faced David Hernandez(notes) (3-3, 3.28 ERA), who takes the mound for Baltimore. He lasted 4 1-3 innings in his last start, allowing two runs and seven hits while walking four as the Orioles lost 4-0 to Boston on Saturday.
The rookie right-hander went 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA in his previous four outings. This will be his first appearance against the Tigers.
Detroit will counter with rookie Rick Porcello(notes) (9-7, 4.36), who is coming off his best start of the season, surrendering one run and four hits in eight innings of Detroit’s 4-3, 12-inning win over Cleveland on Saturday.
The 20-year-old right-hander went 1-3 with a 9.16 ERA in his previous four outings. He has never faced the Orioles.
Porcello won’t have regular catcher Gerald Laird(notes) as his batterymate. After a night game, the Tigers will give Laird a rest for this day contest and put Alex Avila(notes) behind the plate for his major league debut.
Avila, the son of Detroit assistant general manager Al Avila, was called up from Double-A Erie on Wednesday. He was batting .264 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs for the SeaWolves.
Wieters is batting .269 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 45 games.
It was the fifth loss in six games for the Orioles. Ten of Baltimore’s last 13 losses have been by two runs or fewer.
The Orioles are batting .244 on the road, averaging 4.2 runs per game en route to an AL-worst 17-36 record.