TONIGHT: With first-inning assault, Tigers wasting no time shedding slump

May 21, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

DETROIT -- You couldn't prove it by last night's 12-hit outburst, but the Detroit Tigers have been in a hitting slump that manager Sparky Anderson says is about to disappear -- if it hasn't already.

"We're haven't been hitting but we will," said Anderson. "We've got some guys who aren't swinging the bat, but I know we're going to hit."

The hitting slump was the primary reason for Detroit's recent eight-game losing streak. In the last two games, the Tigers scored 12 runs in the first inning, all but one via home runs.

But going into tonight's game against the Orioles (7:35, Ch. 2), the Tigers have a .234 team batting average, which ranks last in the American League.

One reason Anderson is confident his team will recover is the fact that two of those struggling the most are shortstop Alan Trammell and second baseman Lou Whitaker, two of the Tigers' most dependable performers over the years.

In a span of 11 games, Trammell's average dropped from .302 to .240. Whitaker's plunge has been even more severe -- from .324 to .207 in his last 16 games.

"They're starting to swing the bats better," said Anderson. "The hits will come and when they do we'll be OK."

Trammell and Whitaker are particularly important to the Tigers because they are two of the few contact hitters in a lineup that features home runs and strikeouts. The Tigers are tied with the Orioles for the league lead with 38 homers and easily lead in strikeouts with 247.

In tonight's game, the Orioles will send righthander Jose Mesa (4-4, 3.67), who is coming off his worst outing of the year, against lefthander John Cerutti (0-1, 3.33), who will be making only his second start of the year.

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