The Phillies may have caught a break this week thanks to an errant pitch Sunday from Tampa Bay reliever Dana Eveland.
On the first pitch of the seventh inning of Sunday's Rays-Tigers game, Eveland hit Miguel Cabrera on the outside of his left knee, right around the kneecap area. After a brief delay, Cabrera took his place at first base, but several pitches later was removed for a pinch-runner. He's being listed as day to day.
If Cabrera cannot play Monday or in this three-game series at Comerica Park, the Tigers' loss will be the Phillies' gain. Cabrera has caught fire after a quiet April and now is not the time you want to face him. He was hitting .206 after games ended on April 24, but over the last calendar month has hit .384/.446/.687 with four doubles, a triple, eight home runs, 20 RBIs, 17 runs and 11 walks in 26 games. His season batting average has risen by 109 points to .315; his OPS has increased from .597 to .925.
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"I don't expect Miggy's (injury) to be anything serious," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told MLive.com Sunday, before having a chance to talk to Cabrera. "He got hit right on the nerve that sent a little pain from his knee down his leg."
The Tigers enter the series against the Phillies just 21-22, in fourth place in the AL Central. But they're something of a sleeping giant — there's a lot of power in this lineup with Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez, Justin Upton and Ian Kinsler.
Ironically, none of them have been Detroit's best offensive player in 2016 — that title belongs to third baseman Nick Castellanos, who is hitting .340 (third in the AL) with a .948 OPS (seventh). And with the hot start Cameron Maybin is off to in his return from the DL (12 for 20, HR, five RBIs, five runs, four steals), the Tigers have even more pop.
No Cabrera wouldn't make this an easy assignment for Vince Velasquez, Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Nola and the Phillies' relievers, but it would make the task much more manageable. In 89 career games against the Phillies, Cabrera has hit .334 with a .998 OPS.
The Phils' next nine games will be a challenge: three in Detroit, three at the Cubs, then three at home against the Nationals.