The Detroit Tigers just keep winning.
Through Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, where clubhouse leader Cameron Maybin was shipped to the Chicago Cubs for an infield prospect. Through a boycotted game to protest racial inequality. And though an abnormal 60-game season.
General manager Al Avila kept all but one member of his 28-man roster through the trade deadline, and they made a statement Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers, securing a 12-1 victory at Miller Park.
With the Toronto Blue Jays’ loss, the Tigers (17-16) – winners of six in a row – are now a half-game back of the AL’s eighth and final spot in the playoffs with 27 games remaining.
For subscribers: Explaining Tigers’ inaction at trade deadline, and what the choices mean moving forward
Detroit wraps up a two-game series with the Brewers on Wednesday with right-hander Spencer Turnbull as the starter. He was supposed to start Tuesday but flipped spots with righty Michael Fulmer because of a stiff back.
Fulmer tossed three scoreless innings but worked himself into jams along the way. Despite falling behind 2-0 and 3-0 in numerous counts, he battled back to produce strikeouts. He punched out six batters, allowing three hits and two walks. He tossed 65 pitches.
In the eighth inning, center fielder JaCoby Jones left the game with a fractured left hand. The timetable for his return is unknown.
Left-handed reliever Daniel Norris had to give up his first home run this season at some point. So there couldn’t have been a better time than in the sixth inning with a six-run lead – when 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich plucked an 85.7 mph slider in the strike zone for a solo shot.
At the time, that was Norris’ only blemish after two perfect innings in relief of Fulmer.
[ Why Detroit Tigers reliever Daniel Norris isn’t focused on starting again this season ]
He struck out Keston Hiura for the first out but gave up three consecutive singles to force manager Ron Gardenhire to turn to right-hander Bryan Garcia to clean up the mess.
Garcia, who entered with one out and the bases loaded, forced Eric Sogard and Orlando Arcia into weak pop outs to end the inning without further damage. In his last 12 appearances and 10⅓ innings, dating back to Aug. 7, the 25-year-old has only given up one earned run.
Norris’ final line: 2⅓ innings, four hits, one earned run and five strikeouts without a walk. He got three whiffs on his changeup, two of which produced strikeouts.
The Tigers are trying to transition Willi Castro to a utility role to get him more at-bats, and he proved why that needs to happen as soon as possible. He extended his hitting streak to six games (since Aug. 20) on a double in the third inning.
Then the 23-year-old came back with a run-scoring triple to the right-field corner.
In his last six games, Castro is 9-for-21 with two doubles, one triple, one homer and three RBIs.
Leadoff hitter and right fielder Victor Reyes is also thriving. He ended 4-for-5 with five RBIs, and his two-run homer in the sixth pushed the Tigers to a six-run edge.
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Through 109 at-bats this season, Reyes owns a .303 batting average with three homers. He is slated to receive more playing time, possibly becoming the everyday right fielder, because of the Maybin trade. There’s a better chance, however, he takes over in center field with Jones’ injury.
“We’re just going to play it by ear on what’s going on,” Gardenhire said Tuesday about his plan for Reyes and Jorge Bonifacio in right field. “Victor’s going to be playing a lot of games, but we’re also going to go a stretch where we play a ton of games in not so many days, so he’ll have to have a break. We’ll be able to use them just like you would in a regular year.”
Christin Stewart, who entered 10-for-62 with two homers, got the scoring started with a solo home run in the third inning. He got an 89.3 mph fastball inside and sent it 410 feet over the right-center field wall.
In the bottom half of the third, Ben Gamel dropped a single in front of Stewart in right field, and he came up throwing as Gamel tried to extend the hit into a do…