07/14/12 11:19 PM ET
Bottom of Tigers' lineup starting to show signs of life
By Greg Luca / MLB.com
In two second-half games, the Tigers' five through nine hitters are 16-for-51, and manager Jim Leyland sees signs of a turnaround from many of the group's underachievers, specifically Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn.
"They all did something last night to help us," Leyland said. "[Raburn's] a little bit better. Peralta is better. Delmon is better. "I think Boesch got the biggest hit of the game [on Friday]."
In 2011, the Tigers five through nine hitters hit .275 with 114 home runs and 420 RBIs, a far cry from the .244 average, 31 home runs and 158 RBIs the group has posted to this point in 2012.
Those struggles have put an even greater burden on the top four spots in the order, which has a collective .298 average with 53 home runs and 223 RBIs this season.
"That was the one thing we did good last year, late in the lineup we were pretty good," Leyland said. "They did a heck of a job."
Leyland said he's starting to see more positive things from Peralta, who has eight hits in his last four games, including a critical single off Jim Johnson in the Tigers' ninth-inning rally on Saturday. After opening the year hitting .205 against lefties, Peralta has five hits and a pair of home runs in his last nine at-bats against southpaws, raising his average to .244.
Raburn, a traditionally slow starter, notched an RBI double in his second-half debut, while Young homered in each of the final four games before the All-Star break.
Even Boesch, hitting just .247 on the season, had two hits including a two-out, two-run single on Friday. He added an 11th-inning RBI double on Saturday, giving Leyland optimism that the bottom half of the lineup will be able to return to 2011 form.
"That would be huge for us," Leyland said. "That's the thing that we needed, is to stretch our lineup out in a good way. Get some real good production from late in the lineup."
Smyly hits DL, Turner to make Tuesday start
BALTIMORE -- When Drew Smyly felt something in his right side during his start on July 6, neither he nor manager Jim Leyland expected it would be a serious issue.
Eight days later, the Tigers announced that Smyly will be placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a right intercostal strain, with Leyland speculating the left-hander would miss not only his scheduled Tuesday start, but also his following outing.
"This was a total shock to me," Leyland said. "When we left the day of the All-Star break, he felt better, and we thought this was really going to be no issue at all."
That proved not to be the case on Friday, when Smyly tried to throw off the mound for the first time after resting during the All-Star break.
Smyly said he was fine when he played catch and expected that the issue would subside after a couple days off, as most soreness will. But, once he got on a mound and tried to pull down during his release, the pain returned.
"I was trying to let it go in the bullpen and it hurt really bad, so I had to shut it down," Smyly said. "It's tight, it's really stiff. Just got to wait it out."
With Smyly's stint on the DL retroactive to July 7, he would be eligible to return in time for his next regularly scheduled start.
However, Smyly and Leyland were unable to pinpoint when the lefty might be healthy enough to pitch. After all, they never expected even Tuesday to be an issue.
"I doubt he's going to make his next two starts, but I don't want to say that for sure because we don't know that for sure," Leyland said. "It takes time. Time heals the stuff and that's basically what you get. Talking with the trainers yesterday, all the treatment and everything they get, [he] might be able to progress in about three days, possibly. But there's really no proof of that, either."
"We don't really have a set time," Smyly said. "With all the treatment yesterday, I can feel a little bit of an improvement, but you can't rush it. It's a nagging injury, so you have to make sure it's gone before you can get back out there."
The Tigers have called up Luis Marte from Triple-A Toledo to replace Smyly on the 25-man roster, while Jacob Turner will be called up on Tuesday to start against the Angels, taking Smyly's spot in the rotation.
Leyland said there have not been any conversations between himself and general manager Dave Dombrowski about potentially adding a pitcher from outside the organization.
The timing of Smyly's second DL stint -- he missed time in June due to a blister on his left index finger -- is considered a disappointment. In allowing two runs on six hits in six innings against Kansas City in his last outing, Smyly recorded his first quality start since May 9. He also notched a career-high 10 strikeouts.
Smyly, the only left-hander in the Tigers' rotation, is 4-3 with a 4.42 ERA this season.
"I felt like I was really starting to figure it out, get on a little roll, and then this happens," Smyly said. "But, that's just how it goes sometimes.
"These next couple of days are going to tell a lot, so we'll see then."
Turner made his only other start of the season during Smyly's previous trip to the disabled list, allowing one run on four hits in five innings against the Cardinals.
Turner is 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 10 starts for Toledo this season, most recently throwing a complete-game shutout July 7 in Louisville.
Marte has posted a 3.71 ERA in nine relief appearances with the Tigers this season.
Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.