Tigers come back from three down in ninth to make it 12 in a row

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As Hawk Harrelson would say if he weren’t limited to moans and groans at the moment, the Tigers have owned the White Sox this year.  They rallied from three runs down in the ninth and prevailed 6-5 in the 10th today, giving them a 12th straight victory.

It’s the longest winning streak by a team this year and the longest for the Tigers since 1934.  They finished the season series with the White Sox winning 13 out of 18 games.

Alex Avila, who didn’t start, and Carlos Guillen, who hadn’t started in 11 days, were the heroes in this one.  Serving as a pinch-hitter for just the second time this year, Avila hit a game-tying two-run homer off Sergio Santos in the ninth.  Guillen homered in the second and delivered the go-ahead single in the 10th as part of a 3-for-5 days.

The comeback denied Dylan Axelrod a victory in his first major league start.  He left with a 5-2 lead after striking out eight in six innings.  Tigers starter Brad Penny gave up all five White Sox runs.  Four of them were unearned, but it was Penny’s own error that preceded the runs.

Avila’s homer was his 19th and gave him 77 RBI on the season.  Miguel Cabrera is the second Tiger expected to get some down-ballot MVP votes this year, but I’m not sure Avila isn’t more deserving.  He’s played in 128 games this season and has a .919 OPS.  The only primary catcher within even 100 points of OPS of him is Atlanta’s Brian McCann at .841.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.