DETROIT -- Starting with Saturday night against Zach Britton, the Tigers entered a stretch in which they will face five consecutive left-handed starting pitchers. It's the second time this season the team's had such a stretch, the last coming from July 4-8. Detroit won all five of those contests heading into the All-Star break.
Last time, Tigers manager Jim Leyland was concerned. Now? Not even a little, he said.
A good deal of that confidence can be credited to that July win streak, when the Tigers entered the stretch 8-13 vs. southpaws and on the verge of closing out the first half of the season below .500 before rattling off five consecutive victories.
It can also be credited to the presence of Jeff Baker, who was acquired on Aug. 5 from the Cubs. For Leyland, one of the team's biggest holes had been not having another reliable right-handed hitter on the bench to insert against lefties. In Baker, he now has that piece, but also somebody good enough to start for a stretch.
"Baker's probably happy. He'll get a chance to get some consecutive at-bats for a while," said Leyland, who had Baker penciled in to bat eighth and play in right field on Saturday. "That'll be good for him. I'm sure he'll be tickled."
Baker had 11 at-bats and three starts since coming to Detroit entering Saturday. And although he certainly wasn't complaining about his role, he welcomes the opportunity.
"I don't really care where I play," Baker said. "It's about trying to give the guys a lift that day. And you know, when you're in there, whether you're in there for a starter that's getting a day off or, in this case, when you're out there platooning in the outfield, you're just ready to go."