DETROIT -- Only the Angels and Indians have allowed more stolen bases than the Tigers this season, yet Detroit's 28 percent caught-stealing rate ranks in the middle of the pack among American League clubs. In a week in which the Tigers knew they would be tested, however, they fared better than expected.
When Alex Avila threw out Erick Aybar trying to steal third base on Saturday night, he erased what would have been a 4-0 Angels lead on Vernon Wells' ensuing single. He also brought the Tigers to the break-even point against basestealers for the week, one in which they faced two teams that actively look to run.
The Tigers ended up allowing four stolen bases and throwing out four would-be basestealers against the Blue Jays and Angels -- and nailing a runner in four consecutive games. Part of the credit goes to the Tigers' pitching, which kept Mike Trout hitless over the first two games of the series. Part of it also comes down to their pitchers becoming less predictable once opponents do get on base.
"Our guys are doing a much better job," Leyland said.
Rick Porcello, who has drastically improved his numbers against basestealers since the All-Star break, said there was no particular emphasis placed on holding runners this week. However, he said, they've made a point about giving catcher Alex Avila a fighting chance to throw guys out.
"As a pitching staff, we really weren't doing a good job of holding down runners and varying times [to the plate]," Porcello said. "As long as we give him a chance to throw guys out, [we're] doing [our] job. Most of the time, when a guy steals a base, it's on the pitcher, not the catcher."