Justin Verlander is terrible in April? He wasn't this time. I didn't see a lot of the game, but he looked almost midseason in the few innings I saw of him. The eight innings and nine strikeouts will attest to that. And he only threw 108 pitches in those eight innings which is downright economical for him. Apparently he did have one little hiccup where he gave up a two-run homer to Derrek Lee, but I was impressed with what I saw (Then again, I get impressed by Justin Verlander on a routine basis).
The off-day looks as though it worked wonders for Miguel Cabrera, who had better swings all night and hit the 250th home run of his career (It also looks like congratulations will be in order for him and his wife later in the season. Apparently the couple is expecting their third child and first son, although I don't know when the baby is due). Victor Martinez followed up Cabrera's home run with one of his own, and finished the game with three hits. But the star of the game was Alex Avila. There's been a lot of grumbling that Victor Martinez should be the starting catcher because he provides more offense. I've mostly refrained from chiming in on this argument because it's way too early to make decisions like that, plus I find it to be a somewhat one-dimensional argument. The way the Tigers are built, they shouldn't have to have enormous production from all nine positions, and with that in mind, I'd prefer the stronger defender be behind the plate (and before you bring up wild pitches, I'll remind you that Martinez also let a wild pitch get past him in the one game he's caught so far). Avila's not exactly a Gold Glover, but he's better than Martinez. He staked his claim on the job last night, falling a triple shy of the cycle and ending up with five RBIs. He's the first catcher to collect five RBIs in a game since Pudge did it against the Phillies back in 2007 (Thanks for the Pudge reference, Fox Sports Detroit). One game isn't going to resolve this debate, but it does make for a decent rebuttal.
The Tigers finish up this road trip tonight. Brad Penny looks to bounce back from an awful start against the Yankees and get back into my good graces (Oh, who am I kidding? He's yet to make it into my good graces). As much as I'm moaned and complained about him, I really don't expect him to get lit up every time he pitches, but if he doesn't put in a good start tonight, the fans at Comerica Park tomorrow won't be very friendly. The bullpen is well-rested should they be needed, thanks to a combination of the off-day and Justin Verlander. Chris Tillman starts for the Orioles. He was part of the group that dominated the Rays, giving up only one run. The Tigers have a better offense than the Rays, but the Orioles still have a lot of confidence despite losing last night.