Alex Avila’s fifth-inning shot gives Tigers two-run cushion

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Tigers catcher Alex Avila played through an injured knee last postseason and wound up batting just .073/.116/.146 in 44 plate appearances. It appears he’ll be much more of a contributor this time around.

The 25-year-old launched a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning of tonight’s ALDS Game 1 against the Athletics, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.

Even more positive for Detroit is that starter Justin Verlander appears to have settled in. He’s already up to 105 pitches but has allowed just three hits and fanned nine. The ace struck out the side in the top of the sixth inning. To the bottom of the sixth we go.

Report: Giants in “serious discussions” with Reds to acquire Billy Hamilton

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Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Giants are engaged in “serious discussions” with the Reds to acquire center fielder Billy Hamilton. Talks are apparently advanced enough that a deal could be completed before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

It’s no secret that the Giants would like to make an upgrade in the outfield this offseason, as the club has also been linked to Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Currently, the Giants’ outfield consists of Denard Span, Hunter Pence, and Jarrett Parker.

Hamilton, 27, owns a meager .248/.298/.334 batting line across parts of five seasons in the majors with the Reds. However, he has plenty of speed, having stolen at least 56 bases in each of the last four seasons. Hamilton is also well-regarded for his defense, which would be a boon at spacious AT&T Park.

Hamilton is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He’s projected to earn $5 million for this coming season. Buchanan notes that the Rangers are also interested in potentially acquiring Hamilton.