–2B Carlos Guillen saw his first game action of the season Monday, going 0-for-2 with a walk in a five-inning stint for Class A Lakeland. It was the first game of a rehab assignment that could last up to 20 days. Guillen has been sidelined since having left knee microfracture surgery in September.
–RHP Max Scherzer had a sharp slider that he used to strike out nine in seven innings of two-run, six-hit ball. Scherzer fell short in his bid to join teammate RHP Justin Verlander as a 10-game winner but “we won the game and that’s the most important thing. I was able to give my team a chance to win.” He left with the score tied 2-2.
“I was really tickled,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He was really good. His slider was good.”
Scherzer said, “I was really able to execute my first pitches. My first-pitch strikes were really high.”
–DH Victor Martinez drove in Detroit’s first two runs. Martinez doubled in the second inning, lining a 2-2 pitch to left-center to score the first run of the game. An inning later, his two-out RBI ground single to right was fortunate in that Toronto 2B Aaron Hill was breaking to cover second because 1B Miguel Cabrera was running on the full-count pitch. Hill slipped reversing his field, and the ball trickled into right for a single, with LF Brennan Boesch coming in from third.
“My approach is the same as always,” Martinez said, “get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on the ball.”
Toronto manager John Farrell concocted a shift for Martinez when the DH led off the sixth, moving three fielders to the first base side of second and shifting the shortstop closer to the bag.
“The biggest thing there,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, “was that John Farrell was the pitching coach for Boston last year.” Martinez played for the Red Sox in 2010.
“(Martinez) thrives hitting behind Miguel Cabrera,” Leyland said.
–1B Miguel Cabrera pulled off a slick 3-2-3 double play to squelch a Toronto rally in the sixth. The bases were loaded with one out when Blue Jays 2B Aaron Hill leaned out for an outside slider and hit a hopper to Cabrera, who smartly fired a liner to home before scooting back to first for the return throw to complete the inning-ender. Cabrera also had two singles in the game. Cabrera has worked hard on his defense since being shifted to first base from third early in his first year with Detroit.
–RF Magglio Ordonez is looking sharper at the plate. While Ordonez is hitting in bad luck — he lined into a double play when Toronto 2B Aaron Hill made a leaping grab of his hard-hit ball with a runner on second — he also collected two singles. The second was a key hit, as it led to the winning run in the eighth inning. Ordonez grounded a single to left on a 1-0 fastball, and PR Austin Jackson stole second and scored the tiebreaking run on a triple to right by SS Jhonny Peralta.
–SS Jhonny Peralta collected two more hits, one a game-turning triple in the eighth inning that broke a 2-2 tie. Peralta has some of the best hitting statistics of American League shortstops yet is seen as a long-shot to make the All-Star team. “I feel really happy with what I’m doing right now,” Peralta said. “I’m comfortable at the plate.”
Manager Jim Leyland said, “He’s got big hit after big hit. That’s why we got him from Cleveland last year.”
–OF Andy Dirks got the start in center field, his first with Detroit, as CF Austin Jackson was given most of the game off. “I want to give Jackson a little blow and keep Dirks going a little bit. That’s what a team is all about,” manager Jim Leyland said. Dirks played the entire game, shifting to left for the ninth after Jackson entered as a pinch runner in the eighth and stayed in to play center. Dirks went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice and a walk.
–UT Don Kelly started in place of 3B Brandon Inge, sort of a reward for his good play while the regular third baseman was recovering from mononucleosis. “Donnie’s been swinging it pretty good, and I don’t want him getting cold,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s done a good job, and you can’t just forget about him.” Inge was inserted for defense in the ninth, with Kelly taking over in right. Kelly went 0-for-3 with a walk.
–3B Brandon Inge did not start, more of a way to keep UT Don Kelly in a groove than anything else. Inge was 2-for-12 since coming off the disabled list. “He’s seemed fine,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s swinging the bat better. We’re watching him, but he’s OK. That’s not the reason (he’s out). I just don’t want Kelly to get cold.” Inge played third in the ninth inning.
–RHP Jose Valverde converted his 18th save in 18 opportunities, but it wasn’t without drama. The first batter reached base on an error by SS Jhonny Peralta, stole second but was unable to score when CF Austin Jackson nearly tracked down C Jose Molina’s pop fly into right center. That put runners on first and third — and PH Juan Rivera obliged Valverde by hitting his first pitch for a game-ending double play.
BY THE NUMBERS
31 — Victories by Detroit dating back to May 3. Detroit is 31-19, the second-best mark in the league to Boston’s 32-17 record.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“I think you have to use all 25 guys, and that’s what I intend to do. That’s good for the team.” — Manager Jim Leyland, on starting Andy Dirks in center field and Don Kelly at third base Monday in the Tigers’ 4-2 win over the Blue Jays.
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