C.J. Wilson was up in the bullpen during the seventh inning, but Ron Washington is putting Cliff Lee back out there in the bottom of the eighth inning with a 3-1 lead.
Lee has allowed just one run on six hits over seven innings so far tonight, striking out nine and walking none. He has thrown 74 out of 100 pitches for strikes.
The left-hander has established an ALDS record by notching 19 strikeouts over his two starts during the series. The previous record was 16 by Randy Johnson (1995, 1997) and Mike Mussina (1997).
The strikeouts are just dandy, but Lee hasn’t done the Rays any favors during this series. He hasn’t walked a batter in his 14 innings of work.
Lee is slated to face Jason Bartlett, Ben Zobrist and Carl Crawford in the bottom of the eighth. Bartlett is 3-for-3 with a double on the night. Darren Oliver and Darren O’Day are up in the bullpen should he run into any trouble.
The Washington Nationals have acquired outfielder Ryan Raburn from the Chicago White Sox. Raburn had been playing at Triple-A Charlotte. He’ll be assigned to Triple-A Syracuse in the Nats organization. The Nationals will send cash or a player to be named later to the White Sox to complete the deal.
Raburn has yet to play in the majors this season. Last year he hit .220/.309/.404 with nine homers in 113 games for the Colorado Rockies. The year before that he hit an excellent .301/.393/.543 in part time play for the Indians. Over the course of his 11 year career the 36-year-old has hit .253/.317/.436, which breaks down to an OPS+ of exactly 100, which is league average. Primarily an outfielder, Raburn has played every position except shortstop and catcher in his career. He’s even pitched twice.
The Nats plans for him aren’t entirely clear, but depth it depth.
Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.
This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.
So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.
The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.