Detroit Tigers Notes And Quotes 6-1-11
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–RHP Joaquin Benoit earned his second save of the season while serving as the stand-in for RHP Jose Valverde, given the night off after working three games in two days. Benoit worked himself into one-out trouble in the ninth inning by allowing a single and a walk. Four consecutive outside changeups got 1B Justin Morneau, who had hit two home runs earlier in the game, to strike out, and then RF Michael Cuddyer bounced into a game-ending forceout at second on a 3-1 pitch. Despite a four-pitch walk and three straight balls to Cuddyer, Benoit showed good command of his fastball and changeup.
–RHP Max Scherzer bounced back from the shortest start of his career, two innings against Boston, but had periodic trouble while lasting 6 2/3 innings against Minnesota. Scherzer’s fastball control was spotty, something that has bothered him recently, and he gave up two home runs to 1B Justin Morneau worth three runs. The first, in the third inning, came on a 3-1 changeup, and the second was a two-run shot on a high 3-2 fastball. The second home run capped a three-run seventh that gave the Twins a 7-6 lead. “He had good stuff,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He made a bad pitch in a crucial situation. That’s a mistake on my part. I thought he’d pitch around him. But you can’t necessarily take that for granted. That was totally my mistake. He was throwing 95 (mph) that inning.” Scherzer struck out seven but allowed nine hits.
–SS Jhonny Peralta keeps taking outside pitches to right, and that’s helping his offense. Peralta, who is hitting .310, had two doubles plus a sacrifice fly to total two RBI. His first-inning double was rifled to the right field corner. Heretofore almost an exclusive pull hitter, Peralta singled to center, and his sacrifice fly also went to center. He now has a 10-game hitting streak.
–DH Brennan Boesch drove in two runs without a hit, taking advantage of hitting in front of 1B Miguel Cabrera and C Victor Martinez. Boesch hit a grounder to short with runners on second and third and one out in the fifth inning, and the ball was thrown into the Detroit dugout behind third. Boesch got an RBI and a second run scored on the throwing error. He singled in the eighth and scored the game’s tying run, then drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to right on a 3-1 breaking ball that was up and in. After hitting .300 in April, Boesch is hitting .254 at the end of May. He’s getting better at working himself into favorable hitting counts.
–RHP Al Alburquerque picked up his second win in a week with a scoreless eighth inning in which he struck out two batters. Word is getting around about Alburquerque’s knockout slider, but thinking about letting it dive out of the strike zone is a whole lot easier than actually laying off a pitch that comes out looking like a fastball until it gets to the plate. The first batter he faced took a high slider for a third strike on a 3-2 count, while the second whiffed on a 1-2 slider. He again threw fastballs in the high 90s, including a peak of 99.
–LF Ryan Raburn displayed the downside of versatility, misplaying a ball into a double that turned into two-run inning for Minnesota. Raburn came in, then had to go back for a sharp flyball by SS Matt Tolbert that went over his head for a double. Tolbert scored on a wild pitch and a one-out sacrifice fly, and 1B Justin Morneau then hit a home run. “The ball was hit a little harder than he thought,” manager Jim Leyland said of Raburn, who was playing left after being informed he was the new second baseman. “The wind took it over his head; it sailed on him.”
–RHP Jose Valverde was given the night off by manager Jim Leyland. Valverde had worked three straight games for Detroit, two of them Sunday, After having thrown 35 pitches in the two games of the doubleheader, he notched another save on 11 pitches Monday.
–LHP Andy Oliver will pitch Friday to open Detroit’s series in Chicago against the White Sox. Oliver pitched the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Boston with RHP Justin Verlander working the second, but a day off Thursday gave manager Jim Leyland the option of starting either pitcher in Chicago. Oliver is taking the spot of disabled LHP Phil Coke in Detroit’s rotation. Coke is scheduled to make a rehab start Friday and then rejoin the rotation for his next start.
–RHP Justin Verlander will get an extra day of rest after throwing a career-high 132 pitches in his last start. Verlander pitched the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Boston and could have started Friday in Chicago, but a day off Thursday allowed manager Jim Leyland to give the right-hander an added day. He reported feeling no different than usual Monday. Remarkably, the last pitch he threw registered at 100 mph on the Comerica Park radar gun Sunday. “When you think he’s peaking, he’s not, he’s just the same,” C Alex Avila said. “He’s got unbelievable God-given talent, and it’s just impressive to watch that somebody that deep in the game, that many pitches, can still throw with that type of velocity.”
–RF Magglio Ordonez is still progressing in his effort to return from the disabled list. Out of action since May 11 with a weak right ankle, Ordonez did some running exercises that left manager Jim Leyland saying he “ran around better than I’ve seen him in a long, long time. He looks really good — there was life in his bat, and he was moving around real good. If you didn’t know any better, you would think there wasn’t anything wrong with him.” Detroit has not announced it, but a rehab assignment for Ordonez is expected. “I don’t get excited because I don’t know if it’s going to pop up sore all of the sudden,” Leyland said of Ordonez’s ankle.
BY THE NUMBERS
1981 — Last time Detroit was able to string together eight straight victories over Minnesota. The Tigers’ 8-7 win was their eighth in a row against the Twins dating back to last season.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“Anyway you can get it in is the right way.” — DH Brennan Boesch, on driving in runs. Boesch had two RBI without a hit, one on a fielder’s choice grounder to short with runners on second and third in the fifth inning, and the other on a game-winning sacrifice fly in the ninth.
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