Bottom of Tigers' lineup starting to show signs of life

Bottom of Tigers' lineup starting to show signs of life

BALTIMORE -- The bottom half of the lineup was a critical reason the Tigers boasted one of the game's best offenses in 2011, and that group is showing signs of life after a slow start to 2012.

In two second-half games, the Tigers' five through nine hitters are 16-for-51, and manager Jim Leyland sees signs of a turnaround from many of the group's underachievers, specifically Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn.

"They all did something last night to help us," Leyland said. "[Raburn's] a little bit better. Peralta is better. Delmon is better. "I think Boesch got the biggest hit of the game [on Friday]."

In 2011, the Tigers five through nine hitters hit .275 with 114 home runs and 420 RBIs, a far cry from the .244 average, 31 home runs and 158 RBIs the group has posted to this point in 2012.

Those struggles have put an even greater burden on the top four spots in the order, which has a collective .298 average with 53 home runs and 223 RBIs this season.

"That was the one thing we did good last year, late in the lineup we were pretty good," Leyland said. "They did a heck of a job."

Leyland said he's starting to see more positive things from Peralta, who has eight hits in his last four games, including a critical single off Jim Johnson in the Tigers' ninth-inning rally on Saturday. After opening the year hitting .205 against lefties, Peralta has five hits and a pair of home runs in his last nine at-bats against southpaws, raising his average to .244.

Raburn, a traditionally slow starter, notched an RBI double in his second-half debut, while Young homered in each of the final four games before the All-Star break.

Even Boesch, hitting just .247 on the season, had two hits including a two-out, two-run single on Friday. He added an 11th-inning RBI double on Saturday, giving Leyland optimism that the bottom half of the lineup will be able to return to 2011 form.

"That would be huge for us," Leyland said. "That's the thing that we needed, is to stretch our lineup out in a good way. Get some real good production from late in the lineup."