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.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.