CLEVELAND -- Ryan Raburn was out of a job after the Tigers released him last fall, and he admitted to reporters Wednesday that he briefly considered walking away from the game. The fact that he was celebrating a new two-year contract extension from the Indians on Wednesday says plenty about his turnaround.
Just in case it doesn't say enough, though, his old manager added to the sentiment.
"I'm thrilled," Jim Leyland said. "If I don't get a sleeve of golf balls, I'm going to be very disappointed."
Raburn said he would get Leyland a short sleeve.
"I'm so happy for him," Leyland continued. "Well deserved. I'm really glad for him. He's comfortable here. He's got a manager that he's going to have a great relationship with, because his manager's a terrific guy. I think things are going to really work out for him. I couldn't be happier for him. We're all happy for him."
Raburn signed a two-year contract in Detroit before the 2011 season, avoiding arbitration. Once that deal expired following a disappointing 2012 campaign in Detroit, the Tigers released him.
A year ago at this point, Raburn was mired on the bench in Detroit, on his way to a .171 average with one home run and 12 RBIs in 205 at-bats. He entered Wednesday batting .277 with 14 doubles, 13 homers and 38 RBIs in 184 at-bats.
Adjustment pays off for Verlander vs. Indians
CLEVELAND -- Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones knows the look from Justin Verlander. It's not just about the way he's pitching, but the confidence -- maybe a little arrogance -- behind it.
He saw it Tuesday night at Progressive Field, and he saw it pretty early.
"It looked to me like it started in the second inning," Jones said. "Alex [Avila] came over to me in the third inning and he just kind of smiled and said, 'He's got it tonight.'"
After the first inning, Verlander came into the dugout and had a long talk with Jones. It wasn't about the mechanics, Jones said. He just worried that Verlander was too conscious of the baserunner and was getting too quick in his delivery to be consistent with it.
"I don't want him to sacrifice stuff just to be quick so that a guy doesn't steal a base on him," Jones said.
The adjustment that Verlander made between starts, Jones said, allowed him to extend his arm better in his delivery. That gave him some more velocity, sure, but it also allowed him to put his pitches on either corner, too.
That shows in the numbers, and not just on the radar gun. His fastball, which had dropped into the low 90s in some starts earlier this summer, averaged just under 97 mph Tuesday night according to data from MLB.com Gameday and brooksbaseball.net. That's his highest average velocity with it since last September.
The more impressive numbers were on strikes. He threw 50 of his 69 fastballs for strikes, a 72 percent rate, and he induced 10 swings and misses. Both numbers were around his best of the season.
Verlander also threw more curveballs, and threw them consistently for strikes. That wasn't a change, Jones said, so much as a trend.
"His curveball his last three times has been impressive," Jones said.
Jones doesn't want to prematurely proclaim that Verlander is back, though his trend the last few starts strongly suggests it. His next start Sunday at Yankee Stadium might be the sign.
"I think you have to wait and see," Jones said. "In the back of my mind, I'm hoping, but to me you have to keep going out there every time and doing it. But I think he's happy where he's at."
Miggy makes it 10 straight years of 100 RBIs
CLEVELAND -- It took a little longer than expected thanks to an abdominal strain, but Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera reached the 100-RBI mark on Tuesday when he doubled in Torii Hunter as part of Detroit's five-run fifth inning. Even with all that time between RBIs, Cabrera managed to hit the century mark at a record pace for him, and a pretty good pace for the best in the game.
Cabrera had been stuck on 99 RBIs since July 27, when he drove in three runs against the Phillies. He didn't start in four consecutive games and eight out of 11, but he also had four games without an RBI (though one game was merely a pinch-hit appearance).
Cabrera reached the 100-RBI mark in his 103rd game of the season, and the team's 111th. Chris Davis, the American League's RBI leader with 106, reached the century mark in his 108th game, but the Orioles' 109th. So the issue of pace depends on whether the criteria is the number of games the hitter plays, the number of games his team has played or the date on the calendar.
Cabrera had 95 RBIs at the Tigers' 111-game mark last season. He had just 84 RBIs over his first 103 games of the season, though. There's a case to be made that the abdominal strain and hip flexor Cabrera has been battling for more than a month has derailed what had the makings of a record pace.
Cabrera also clinched his 10th consecutive 100 RBI season. He became just the fourth Major League player age 30 or younger with that many 100-RBI seasons. Albert Pujols and Jimmie Foxx put theirs up consecutively as well, while Alex Rodriguez had 10 in his first 11 seasons.
Cabrera, Pujols, Foxx and Rodriguez join Al Simmons and Lou Gehrig as the only Major Leaguers in history with 10 consecutive 100-RBI seasons. Foxx (1929-41), Gehrig (1926-38) and Rodriguez (1998-2010) share the record with 13. If Cabrera posts 100 RBIs next season as a Tiger, he'll tie Hall of Famer Harry Heilmann for the club record with seven in a row.
Cabrera is also the third player in Major League history to post 100 RBIs in 10 of his first 11 seasons, joining Pujols and Rodriguez.
Infante scratched from rehab game due to ankle
CLEVELAND -- Omar Infante was scratched from his rehab start for Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday night with soreness in his previously sprained left ankle. Whether it's a day-to-day situation or something that sets him back a little longer remains to be seen.
Infante was originally in the Mud Hens' lineup at second base, where he was expected to play seven innings. However, he was scratched at the last minute. According to a Tigers spokesperson, Infante felt "a little soreness" in his ankle, so he was taken out of the lineup as a precaution.
Infante had a setback in the ankle when he played second base in his previous rehab assignment last month for Class A West Michigan, but he felt the issue while running the bases. He has felt fine taking ground balls and hitting, and he went 1-for-5 with an infield single as the designated hitter on Tuesday.
The Mud Hens were finishing a two-game set at Columbus on Wednesday night, and travel from there to Indianapolis. Infante would most likely follow the team there. The Tigers, meanwhile, finish up in Cleveland on Thursday night before heading to New York for a three-game weekend series against the Yankees.