Verlander's shoulder 'kind of fatigued,' but focus sharp
By Brian Dulik
Special to MLB.com |
CLEVELAND -- Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander remains one of the game's most feared pitchers, even though he has struggled this season.
The former American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner admits his throwing shoulder has been "kind of fatigued," but says his focus is as sharp as ever.
"Baseball is my life, and I'm more at home here than anywhere else in the world," he said Tuesday in the visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field. "I'm always able to focus on that, especially when I'm on the mound, doing what I've done my whole life."
Verlander will make his 28th start Wednesday -- opposing Indians righty Danny Salazar -- in the third game of Detroit's four-game set against the Indians. He is 12-11 with a 4.68 ERA, striking out 132 in 171 1/3 innings, which are his worst statistics across the board since 2008.
Yet, Verlander says those numbers are secondary to those found in the standings. Entering Tuesday, Detroit led Seattle by 1 1/2 games for the second AL Wild Card spot and was a half-game behind first-place Kansas City in the AL Central.
"The sole focus for me is on the Detroit Tigers," said Verlander, who is under contract through 2019. "We're in the pennant race and I'm trying to win a pennant."
CLEVELAND -- The Tigers' second wave of September reinforcements arrived Tuesday, raising their roster to 33 players.
Left-handers Kyle Lobstein, Robbie Ray and Kyle Ryan and right-hander Buck Farmer were recalled from Triple-A Toledo and were in uniform against the Indians.
Lobstein started the contest, while the other three pitchers were assigned to the bullpen.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he plans on using his relievers liberally over the final 25 games, hoping to keep his veteran pitchers fresh down the stretch.
"If we can chop an inning off here and there with our starters, we'll do that," Ausmus said. "David [Price], Max [Scherzer] and Justin [Verlander] are all getting up there in terms of innings, so if the game isn't close, I'm not going to hesitate to get them out of there a little quicker than usual. We have a deep enough bullpen now that we can do that."
The four pitching callups joined four position players who were brought up one day earlier, then made late appearances in the Tigers' 12-1 win in Cleveland.
Double-A Erie right fielder Steven Moya -- the Eastern League MVP -- singled as a pinch-hitter in his big league debut, while Triple-A Toledo catcher James McCann appeared in his first Major League game as a defensive replacement.
Outfielder Tyler Collins and shortstop Hernan Perez also were recalled from the Mud Hens. Collins belted his first big league homer, a three-run shot off Indians reliever Austin Adams, and Perez recorded his initial hit of the season.
"I would have liked to get McCann an at-bat, too, but it didn't really work out," Ausmus said. "If there is any anxiety about getting your first hit, it's nice to get that out of way as soon as possible."
CLEVELAND -- Miguel Cabrera served as the Tigers' designated hitter for the second straight game Tuesday night, allowing him to rest his sore right ankle.
In turn, usual DH Victor Martinez played first base for the second straight day against the Indians.
Since Martinez is 35 and has chronic left knee problems, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus knows this isn't a long-term solution.
"It's going to be a balancing act from here on out because I can't run Victor out there every day," the skipper said.
"That won't be good for Victor, so it won't be good for us. There is no one else on our team that I want following Miggy in the order than Victor, but it isn't fair to make him our first baseman. This is just something else we're going to have to work through."
Cabrera, the two-time reigning American League MVP, has made 109 starts at first base, while Martinez has been the DH 99 times.
Unless Cabrera's ailing ankle unexpectedly recovers, that combination won't be an option during the Tigers' ongoing playoff push.
"The idea is to control Miggy's discomfort as much as possible," Ausmus said. "Beyond that, there isn't much more I can say."
Cabrera's batting average dropped from .304 to .302 before the game when a scoring change was made from Monday's contest. Indians right fielder Mike Aviles was awarded an error on what was originally ruled a Cabrera single.
Miggy hits two of Tigers' five homers in rout of Tribe
Detroit pads lead for second AL Wild Card spot, puts pressure on KC
By Brian Dulik
Special to MLB.com |
CLEVELAND -- Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera's right ankle figures to be sore for the rest of the season. His arms, however, remain as strong as ever.
Cabrera hit two home runs, drove in three runs and had four hits Monday, powering Detroit to a 12-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians. His 29th career multihomer game helped the Tigers pull 1 1/2 games ahead of the Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot.
Detroit remains a half-game behind the Royals in the AL Central after Kansas City won on Monday night.
"We won, that's the most important thing right now," said Cabrera, who went 4-for-5 and scored four times. "What I did was fine, but we won, so that makes it even better."
The two-time reigning AL MVP left the Tigers' game Saturday against the White Sox when his ankle flared up, then sat out the series finale in Chicago on Sunday.
Cabrera returned to action in the Labor Day matinee as the designated hitter, while Victor Martinez flip-flopped with him to play first base. The strategy worked perfectly as both players homered in the first three innings, as did J.D. Martinez, off Indians ace Corey Kluber.
Detroit wound up with a season-high five home runs when Cabrera went deep off Bryan Price in the eighth and Tyler Collins hit his first big league blast in the ninth off Austin Adams.
Cabrera's initial homer was his first since Aug. 2, while his second moved him into a tie with Harold Baines for 61st place on the all-time home run list with 384. He also upped his average against Kluber to .566 over 30 career at-bats.
"Miggy looked good, obviously, but we had guys hit up and down our lineup today," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, whose squad had 20 hits. "It had been a while for him in terms of home runs, so who knows, maybe this is a flashpoint for him."
Detroit left-hander David Price (13-10), who leads the AL with 210 1/3 innings and 232 strikeouts, allowed one run in seven frames to snap his two-game losing streak. Price scattered eight hits and struck out eight, improving to 2-2 in six starts since being acquired from Tampa Bay on July 31. He is 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA in eight career outings against the Indians.
"He's been pitching for a while now, and he knows what he's doing," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "He's got the stuff to go with it. We had hits; it's just hard, because he's really good."
The Tigers battered Kluber (13-9) for five runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander ranks third in the AL in innings and strikeouts, but he saw his ERA rise to 2.72 in his shortest start of the year.
Price was pleased with the way his teammates responded to the challenge.
"Our offense did a great job against Kluber, getting two runs in the first and a couple more in the next two innings," he said. "That made my job a little bit easier, for sure."
Nick Castellanos added three singles for the Tigers, while Alex Avila and Victor Martinez both had a pair of hits and drove in a pair of runs.
Detroit right fielder Steven Moya made his big league debut in the ninth, singling as a pinch-hitter. The Eastern League MVP was recalled from Double-A Erie earlier in the day.
Catcher James McCann also played in his first Major League contest for Detroit, entering as a defensive replacement in the ninth.
"This was a day that Moya and McCann will never forget, and it was nice for Tyler to hit his first home run up here," Ausmus said. "You always enjoy a game like that. We were pitching good, hitting good. It was a lot of fun."
The Indians' lone tally occurred in the first when Carlos Santana doubled home Michael Brantley. Al Alburquerque and Jim Johnson pitched one scoreless inning apiece in relief of Price.
CLEVELAND -- Miguel Cabrera returned to the Tigers' lineup on Monday afternoon, serving as their designated hitter against the Cleveland Indians. He hit a two-run homer in the first inning of Detroit's 12-1 win, and added a solo shot in the eighth.
The two-time reigning American League MVP continues to battle a sore right ankle, but he told manager Brad Ausmus that he "felt OK to play" upon arriving at Progressive Field.
"We're still very day to day on this, so the key is how we're going to try and manage Miggy the rest of the season," Ausmus said. "He said he could have played first base, but I didn't want him standing out there for nine innings. That's why I elected to go with Option B and have him DH."
Cabrera exited Detroit's game Saturday night against the White Sox when his ankle flared up, then sat out the series finale Sunday in Chicago. It marked just the third game he has missed this season.
Cabrera is hitting .304 with 19 home runs and a team-high 94 RBIs. He was in the third spot in the batting order against the Indians, while cleanup hitter Victor Martinez played first base.
With the Tigers in the thick of the AL playoff race, Ausmus understands how important it is to keep Cabrera as healthy as possible.
"Running is the biggest issue with his ankle, but the speed game is not exactly Miggy's forte," the skipper deadpanned. "I think standing bugs him more than anything else, so we're going to limit the amount of time that he has to do that."
CLEVELAND -- Steven Moya's first day in the big leagues got off to a great start when he arrived in the Tigers' clubhouse on Monday.
Victor Martinez gave the Eastern League MVP a warm hug, while Justin Verlander extended his congratulations and welcomed him to the team. Moya then picked up his first career hit with a single in the ninth inning of Detroit's 12-1 win.
"This is unbelievable, I will never forget it," said a wide-eyed Moya, who is the seventh-ranked Detroit prospect by MLB.com. "I know a lot of people were expecting me to be called up, but I didn't know anything until yesterday after our game. I'm thankful to God for the way everything happened."
Moya was one of four Minor Leaguers promoted to the Tigers as part of the September roster expansion to 40 players.
Shortstop Hernan Perez and outfielder Tyler Collins were recalled from Triple-A Toledo, while catcher James McCann had his contract purchased from the Mud Hens. The marquee attraction, though, was 23-year-old slugger Moya, who was recalled from Double-A Erie.
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound right fielder belted 35 home runs and 105 RBIs in 133 games for the SeaWolves and started in the All-Star Futures Game at Target Field.
"Steven is a classic, left-handed hitter," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "I realize he's still a young guy, but it's tough to teach power like he has."
Ausmus added that it is possible to teach discipline at the plate, which is why Moya's 161 strikeouts and 23 walks this season aren't a major concern to him. Ausmus also said he wouldn't hesitate to use him as a pinch-hitter during the Tigers' playoff push.
"I know I can hit for power, but I want to be a complete hitter," Moya said. "Now that I've gotten here, I know I have to produce."
Tigers waiting for Anibal to be completely pain-free
By Brian Dulik
Special to MLB.com |
CLEVELAND -- The Tigers continue to be very cautious with right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 9 with a major strain of his right pectoralis.
Manager Brad Ausmus reported Monday that Sanchez is feeling better, but there is no timetable for the veteran starter to resume throwing.
"It's good that he felt better today, but until he's completely pain-free, we won't do anything with him," Ausmus said.
Sanchez posted an 8-5 record with a 3.46 ERA in 21 starts prior to his injury. Detroit reliever Joakim Soria, who has a strained left oblique, threw a pregame side session at Progressive Field on Monday. The righty, who has been on the DL since Aug. 10, has thrown a baseball in five of the last seven days.
Defense lets down Porcello; Tigers fall to White Sox
Three errors in first two innings lead to three unearned runs
By Jason Beck
CHICAGO -- The Tigers woke up Sunday morning in the City of Broad Shoulders with a share of first place for the first time in three weeks. They left town Sunday evening with a four-game series split, a disappointed manager and a selection of seemingly small gloves.
"You keep giving Major League hitters extra opportunities, give them extra outs, and they're going to eventually get some hits that are going to cost you," manager Brad Ausmus said of Sunday's 6-2 loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. "Errors happen, but that was entirely too sloppy early for us."
The tone did not stop at the manager's office.
"You can have the other team beat you. The thing that's tough is when you beat yourselves," said Don Kelly, one of three Tigers infielders with errors in the first two innings -- and four overall. "That's the thing that eats at you, especially with a guy like Rick [Porcello], who works fast and gets ground balls, gives you a chance to make plays. We just didn't make the plays."
On a day when Porcello had a chance to carry momentum for the Tigers and pick up an AL-high 16th win for himself, he fell victim to a throwback outing, back to the days when Detroit's defense was a hindrance rather than a help. Between three infield errors, a misplay in left field and a ground-ball single, Porcello was saddled for five runs -- just two earned -- in his first two innings.
"We gave them most of their runs," center fielder Rajai Davis said. "They didn't really have to do much to earn them."
With 11 hits allowed over 6 2/3 innings, plus a costly two-out walk in the first, Porcello had a role as well. Two RBI hits, however, came after defensive miscues extended the first and second innings.
He has been here before, and he wasn't about to shrug off blame.
"It's baseball. You pitch through whatever you're going through," Porcello said. "I mean, if I'm out there giving up doubles in the gap, you regroup and keep battling. It's the same thing. It's not always going to go smoothly for us, and we need to find a way to reach down and at the very least show some heart."
He stopped short of calling that an issue Sunday coming off a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
"I don't mean anything like that," Porcello said. "We're in a stretch run. This is what it's all about. I'm not saying that we don't have heart or anything like that. I'm saying that this is crunch time. I mean, we've got 30 days. Let's push hard for 30 days, see where we end up."
They're getting pushed now. With Sunday's loss, Detroit fell out of first, trailing Kansas City by a half-game. The Royals' night game vs. the Indians was suspended because of rain with Kansas City trailing, 4-2, in the bottom of the 10th inning, to be completed on Sept. 22 in Cleveland. Detroit visits Cleveland for a four-game series beginning Monday afternoon that could determine which division team poses the biggest challenge to the Royals heading into the home stretch.
Detroit's starting pitching should play a big role in answering that. In Chicago, however, two Tigers starters who have combined for 30 wins this season ended up with the two losses in the series. A day after Max Scherzer fell to a big inning, giving up four runs in four batters, Porcello fell in part to the defense behind him.
Porcello (15-9) has enjoyed a breakout season this year thanks in no small part to the infielders who make plays behind him, enough that his 3.10 ERA is lower than his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) for the first time since his rookie season in 2009.
From the moment Adam Eaton drove Porcello's second pitch of the day to the left-field corner, where it bounced off J.D. Martinez's glove, Porcello was in trouble. Eaton was awarded a double, but errors followed.
Porcello paid for a two-out walk to Avisail Garcia, extending the inning for Conor Gillaspie's RBI ground ball through the left side and under Eugenio Suarez's glove. When replays showed Suarez didn't throw to second base for the force out in time after bobbling Dayan Viciedo's grounder, the lead extended to 2-0.
"Out of the gate, we were very poor," Ausmus said. "That's really the crux of it."
Kelly, whose diving stop in the first inning robbed Jose Abreu of an RBI hit, and Nick Castellanos committed errors trying to handle consecutive ground balls with one out in the second inning. Both plays brought in a run, as did Garcia's blooper into shallow center field.
Porcello had more strikeouts (five) than groundouts (two) through three innings, in large part because less than half of the five playable ground balls he induced in that stretch were converted into outs. He recovered, but the Tigers never gained the lead.
CHICAGO -- The reinforcements are coming. How much of an impact the September callups will make on the Tigers' postseason chances remains to be seen.
They include Eastern League MVP Steven Moya, the sweet-swinging right fielder whose 35 home runs and 105 RBIs in 133 games for Double-A Erie will likely draw attention in the big leagues upon his arrival Monday in Cleveland.
"He brings power," manager Brad Ausmus said of the All-Star Futures Game starter and seventh-ranked Tigers prospect according to MLB.com. "He brings that threat off the bench to hit the ball 450 feet, and he can hit it to all fields. Opposing teams, opposing managers have to be aware of that. Even if he doesn't actually get into a game, you have to know that he's there."
They also include Triple-A Toledo catcher James McCann, whose two-way game has drawn speculation for the past couple months as a potential option in Detroit.
"He's had a good year," Ausmus said. "He's very solid behind the plate. I've talked to [Mud Hens manager] Larry Parrish about him. LP really likes him, says we won't be disappointed in any way with how he works with pitchers. He takes a lot of pride in the defensive side of the game."
They include Mud Hens middle infielder Hernan Perez, an option at shortstop in Spring Training once Jose Iglesias was injured and again at midseason before Eugenio Suarez took over. Along with outfielder Tyler Collins, who made the Opening Day roster as an extra player before being optioned to Toledo for J.D. Martinez, they comprise the positional portion of the callups.
None of them figure to crack the starting lineup unless something unforeseen happens. That includes Moya, whose power at Double-A came with an aggressive approach that also produced 161 strikeouts and just 23 walks.
"It just gives us some options as we move through a game," Ausmus said.
Pitching-wise, left-handers Kyle Lobstein, Kyle Ryan and Robbie Ray will be recalled from Triple-A Toledo as expected. Lobstein will start Tuesday against the Indians, trying to follow up his six solid innings against the Yankees last Thursday in Detroit.
Ryan, who tossed six scoreless innings Saturday night to beat the White Sox, and Ray, who made a half-dozen starts in May and August, will work out of the bullpen for now.
"Lobstein's the fifth guy right now," Ausmus said. "We'll see how Lobber, how Kyle throws and we'll go from there."
The list does not include lefty Ian Krol, who began the year as Detroit's primary lefty reliever and pitched in 45 games. He ranked among the AL leaders in appearances when he went on the DL in mid-June with a tired arm, and never seemed to regain his form upon return.
Moya, Collins and Perez are scheduled to join the Tigers on Monday in Cleveland, along with Ryan, who never left after being optioned out Saturday night. Ray, Lobstein and McCann will join the team Tuesday once the Mud Hens' season concludes.
Of the seven, only McCann wasn't on Detroit's 40-man roster. To open a spot for him, the Tigers recalled right-hander Drew VerHagen from Triple-A Toledo and immediately placed him on the 60-day disabled list. Verhagen, out since mid-July with a stress fracture in his back, had been on the seven-day DL in the Minors.
CHICAGO -- In the end, Brad Ausmus didn't wait long Sunday morning to decide whether to give Miguel Cabrera the day off. The rest of the road trip might be more of a waiting game.
After Cabrera left Saturday night's game a sore right ankle, the Tigers slugger was out of the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox.
"[Head athletic trainer] Kevin Rand had talked to him to get an idea of how he feels," Ausmus said. "It was based on that discussion. It's day to day. We'll see tomorrow."
Though Ausmus said Saturday night that sitting Cabrera for a stretch of days is an option, it's not the plan for now.
"I think it'll generally be a day-to-day determination," Ausmus said, "just because sometimes he comes in and it feels good, sometimes he comes in and it's aggravated."
The problem with sitting him for a stretch, beyond the absence it creates in the lineup, is that the benefit appears to be iffy at best.
"I don't know that it can be healed fully either until something is done about it or he has a complete offseason," Ausmus said.
With Cabrera out and sinkerballer Rick Porcello on the mound, Don Kelly started at first base, despite an opposing left-hander on the mound in White Sox southpaw Jose Quintana. Unless the matchups dictate otherwise, Ausmus said, Kelly is likely to start at first base on days when Cabrera is out. On days when Cabrera starts at designated hitter, Victor Martinez will start at first base.
Cabrera's situation will not factor into decisions on the Tigers' September callups, Ausmus said. The Toledo Mud Hens have a power-hitting corner infielder in veteran slugger Mike Hessman, owner of 28 home runs there this season, but the 36-year-old Minor League veteran is not on Detroit's 40-man roster.
"We have enough guys that can play first," Ausmus said.
CHICAGO -- Joakim Soria appears to be getting close to throwing off a mound in his effort to rehab from the left oblique strain that landed him on the disabled list three weeks ago.
Soria was not scheduled to throw Sunday after doing so on four of the previous five days. He's scheduled to throw again Monday in Cleveland, potentially progressing to throwing off the front of the mound. It's not a full mound session, but it's a step in that direction.
Ausmus said earlier this weekend that Soria still feels some soreness in the oblique near the end of his sessions, but that he's progressing further and further out in his throwing before he feels it. It's not full health, but the Tigers are taking it as progress.
The Tigers have been trying to fill Soria's role mainly with Jim Johnson, signed earlier in the month after being released by Oakland. The former O's and A's closer entered Saturday's nightcap in the eighth inning with a 5-0 lead following an Adam Eaton leadoff single off Blaine Hardy, but loaded the bases with an Alexei Ramirez double and Jose Abreu walk. All four runs scored, three of them on Dayan Viciedo's home run off of Joba Chamberlain.
Before that, the Tigers' bullpen had given up a lone earned run over its previous 19 1/3 innings, covering a seven-game stretch.
Tigers shortstop Suarez charged with error following replay review
By Daniel Kramer
CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura successfully challenged the third out of the first inning on Sunday against the Tigers to get his club another run.
Already up 1-0 and with runners at the corners and two outs, Dayan Viciedo grounded to Tigers shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who bobbled the ball before throwing to second baseman Ian Kinsler. Second-base umpire Pat Hoberg ruled Conor Gillaspie out on a close play.
The call was overturned after a review of one minute and 54 seconds. Gillaspie was ruled safe, Suarez was charged with an error and Avisail Garcia scored to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead.
Ryan tosses six shutout innings for Tigers in debut
Lefty helps Detroit split doubleheader; Kinsler drives in three runs
By Jason Beck
CHICAGO -- They know Kyle Ryan now.
Six shutout innings for a Tigers team desperately needing a win, having lost a star-studded pitching duel earlier in the day, will do that.
"I can't say I expected to do that," Ryan said after everything settled from the 8-4 win over the White Sox, "but it was rather nice to be able to go out there and show them what I actually have."
That's the beauty of it. The Tigers lost the Max Scherzer-Chris Sale meeting Saturday afternoon, the matchup they wanted to set up. They won the battle of dueling Major League debuts with the 22-year-old lefty who wasn't in big league camp in Spring Training and wasn't in the big league picture until last week.
In the end, it was enough to move them back into a tie atop the American League Central, their first share of the division lead in three weeks. Cleveland's 11-inning win at Kansas City meant the Tigers and Royals closed the evening with identical 74-61 records.
Back-to-back Saturdays with day-night doubleheaders on the road finally got the Tigers caught up with the Royals in games played. They ended up splitting both. Last weekend's twin bill went to form, with Justin Verlander salvaging the split once the rookie -- in that case, Buck Farmer -- took the loss in the opener.
This time, it was the opposite.
All Tigers manager Brad Ausmus knew about Ryan a few days ago was that he was left-handed and had put up outstanding numbers over a handful of appearances at Triple-A Toledo. That was more than many Tigers players knew about him, except for bullpen catcher John Murrian, who had caught Ryan in Class A ball last year.
Ryan became the 12th Tigers pitcher to make his Major League debut this season, and the 11th different Tiger to start a game. His debut ranked among the best, and couldn't have come at a much better time for a team at serious risk of a doubleheader sweep, even if several teammates had never heard of him before this week.
"We just really couldn't get anything going against their guy," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Lack of familiarity has been a strength recently for Ryan, who cited part of his success with the Mud Hens to hitters who hadn't seen him before. That seemed to carry over to the big leagues, but so did his penchant for throwing strikes.
"He's got kind of a funky delivery," Ausmus said. "He kind of hides the ball. He turns his back a little bit to the hitters. I think the hitters have a little bit of trouble picking it up. He's got a little cutter, slider, fastball obviously, but I think the deception in his delivery creates issues for hitters."
He nearly didn't get to see it for long. As Ryan stared down White Sox cleanup hitter Avisail Garcia, he was having the kind of first Major League inning many would've expected. He had runners at first and second, one out and a 2-0 count on a dangerous power hitter.
He had to make a pitch, and he had to do it in the strike zone to a guy who could easily send it into the seats.
"At that point, my two-seamer was running off the plate, and I was just focusing on throwing one down the middle," Ryan said. "It ended up going down the middle and tailing at the last minute, and thankfully he grounded into a double play."
Ryan escaped jams with two runners on in each of the first two innings, then got on a roll, retiring nine consecutive batters from the end of the second inning into the fifth. Between six groundouts, two popouts to second and a strikeout, the White Sox didn't hit a ball out of the infield in that stretch.
Eleven of Ryan's 18 outs came on ground balls. Of the five hits he allowed, Ramirez's first-inning double down the right-field line -- past a hobbled Miguel Cabrera at first base -- was the only one to go for extra bases.
"I pitched for ground balls," Ryan said. "Sometimes I got a little wild, but other than that, I tried to stay down in the zone, calm, collected, and it worked out."
While Ryan pounded White Sox hitters into the ground, the Tigers beat Chicago starter Chris Bassitt in his big league debut with no small contribution from their legs, getting two runs each from speedy Ezequiel Carrera and Rajai Davis in third- and fourth-inning rallies.
Ian Kinsler drove in three runs with a pair of singles, plating Davis, who singled in Carrera and stole second base, in the third. Carrera's steal in the fourth following a one-out single set up Kinsler's two-run single through the middle.
Ryan left with a 5-0 lead, a margin that stood heading into the bottom of the eighth. By the time the inning ended, Joba Chamberlain was the third pitcher of the inning, inheriting a bases-loaded jam before Dayan Viciedo's three-run homer made it a one-run game. J.D Martinez, Alex Avila and Don Kelly added ninth-inning RBIs to extend Detroit's advantage.
Officially, Ryan was optioned back to Toledo after the game. For all practical purposes, however, he's staying. With rosters expanding Monday and Minor League seasons ending Tuesday, Ryan will spend Sunday in the stands before joining the team in Cleveland. So his teammates will get to know him more.
"There's work to be done," Ryan said, "and I'm going to do it."
Ace fans 11, but is undone by a four-run third inning
By Jason Beck
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale and Max Scherzer eventually had their pitching duel on Saturday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. It just took some damage during the early innings to get them there. Difference was, the White Sox did more with their big inning off Scherzer than the Tigers did off Sale.
"I had great stuff. I got beat on a couple pitches," Scherzer said after Detroit's 6-3 loss started off Saturday's day-night doubleheader.
"There was a little more offense than everyone expected," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
This was the matchup the Tigers tried to leverage. They set up Scherzer specifically to pitch opposite Sale -- even moving Scherzer from the night game to the day game once the White Sox did the same with Sale. Essentially, they went big to give themselves a chance for the sweep, rather than playing for a split.
When Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez homered off Sale in the first inning, it looked like a ingenious move. The Tigers had a 3-0 lead after the first four batters, and they had opportunities during the next two innings to add to their advantage.
Then, as Ausmus put it, "He settled down and became Chris Sale again."
It's not that he wasn't himself at all. He did strike out six Tigers over those three innings, after all. Take away the strikeouts, though, and the Tigers were 6-for-8 when they put the ball in play.
Both outs in play were second-inning groundouts to short -- one to lead off the inning, the other for a double play to end it. He struck out the side in the first and the third innings, including a called third strike on Nick Castellanos to strand runners on second and third in the third inning.
A well-hit single would have given Detroit a 5-1 lead. Instead, a strikeout gave Sale his chance to recover.
"I get in that scenario a lot. I start overthrowing and start coming out of my shoes and things just compound after that," Sale said. "[Pitching coach Don Cooper] and I talked a lot this week about slowing things down, not gripping and ripping when bad things start happening, kind of slowing it down. And that's what I did today, just tried to slow it down and not try to overthrow and do too much."
They were huge missed opportunities, but they looked like luxury runs for Scherzer -- who hadn't allowed a hit since Adam Eaton's single to lead off the game.
Scherzer began the third by fanning Carlos Sanchez for his fifth strikeout of the game, and his fourth in five batters, protecting a 3-1 lead. By the time he recorded another out, he was trailing.
Four batters. Four hits. Four runs.
"The margin of error between success and failure, right now, when you're facing a team like this is razor thin," Scherzer said. "You have to be really be on top of your game to have success. Really, in my mind, I felt I had great stuff today. But it only takes a couple pitches to get beat."
The 0-2 curveball Scherzer threw to Eaton that began his demise wasn't one of those pitches. Eaton took back-to-back fastballs for strikes, and Scherzer put the breaking ball below the knees. Eaton got enough for a one-out, line-drive single into right field.
"He has the ability to fight some stuff off, put something in play and get on base," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
The ensuing at-bat with Alexei Ramirez was one where Scherzer came close to another big strikeout, spotting a 1-2 fastball around the outside corner at 96 mph. It was close enough that Scherzer, who doesn't normally give looks on calls, looked surprised when he didn't get it.
"I don't sit here and complain about umpires," Scherzer said. "They have a tough job back there. I put a ball in a perfect spot. I didn't get a call. I don't want to make excuses over there."
Ramirez ran the count full before getting a slider over the plate and sending it off the fence in left-center for an RBI double. Jose Abreu fouled off three straight pitches -- two of them with two strikes -- before reaching for a slider off the plate and sending a ground ball through the middle for a game-tying single.
Up came Adam Dunn, owner of 23 strikeouts in 47 at-bats against Scherzer up to that point. Scherzer fell behind him before leaving a 2-1 curveball up for Dunn to pull down the right-field line for his 20th home run of the year.
That was one of the pitches. Another hanging curveball to Tyler Flowers for a fourth-inning solo shot was the other.
"That's the frustrating part," Scherzer said. "I had great stuff today. Anytime you can strike out 11 and not walk any, you're doing things right. But I got beat on a couple pitches."
Scherzer (15-5) missed out on a chance to join Clayton Kershaw as baseball's only 16-game winners this season. He struck out 11 batters, but allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits over 6 2/3 innings. Sale (11-3) looked more like himself, striking out six Tigers over a seven-batter span on his way to a season-high 13 strikeouts over seven innings.
CHICAGO -- For the second time in 24 hours, the Tigers had to cut a reliever who seemed to be in line for a September callup. This time, it was right-hander Justin Miller, who was designated for assignment on Saturday morning to make room for Kyle Ryan on the 40-man roster.
The Tigers signed Miller as a Minor League free agent last fall, taking a chance that his power fastball and nasty slider could make an impact two years removed from Tommy John surgery. The 27-year-old right-hander spent three different stints in Detroit this season -- most recently as a one-day callup in mid-August. But he never found a role, allowing seven earned runs on 14 hits over 12 1/3 innings in eight appearances. He struck out just five, while walking two.
The numbers were surprising, given Miller's dominant season at Triple-A Toledo, where he allowed just nine runs on 30 hits over 44 2/3 innings with 12 walks and 39 strikeouts.
The move further limits the number of extra relievers the Tigers will have available for callups once rosters expand on Monday. Detroit designated fellow Toledo righty Jose Ortega for assignment on Friday to make room for Evan Reed. At this point, their 40-man-roster options for bullpen help are Ian Krol, Melvin Mercedes, Chad Smith and Jose Valdez. Smith, who had a stint in Detroit this summer, was demoted to Double-A Erie two weeks ago, while Valdez has a 4.09 ERA as Erie's closer.
Manager Brad Ausmus said he was expecting to discuss potential September callups with team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski between games during Saturday's day-night doubleheader.
CHICAGO -- Evan Reed said Friday he was able to concentrate solely on baseball once his legal situation reached a resolution last week. Now, he's hoping to make the best of another chance to find a role in Detroit's bullpen.
"I could just take a deep breath and concentrate on getting back to playing for the Tigers," Reed said, "trying to come back here and help them win as many games as possible. That's ultimately what it's about, coming up and contributing to the Detroit Tigers. I knew I needed to go back [to Triple-A Toledo] and get back to getting ahead of hitters, throwing breaking balls for strikes, working down in the zone, and that's what I did."
The Tigers purchased the contract of Reed from Triple-A Toledo on Friday, just over a week after a Wayne County judge dismissed sexual conduct charges against the 28-year-old. The case, stemming from an alleged incident at a Detroit hotel the weekend before Opening Day, had been under investigation since mid-April, either by the Detroit Police Department or Wayne County prosecutors.
Reed made the Opening Day roster for the first time this season. He was designated for assignment and was outrighted to Toledo in June after appearing in 27 games. The Tigers said at the time the move had nothing to do with the investigation.
Clearly, however, the situation was on his mind.
"It's a slippery slope: You want to stay positive all the time, but you also know the nature of what's going on off the field," he said. "I tried to stay as positive as I could and take it one pitch at a time and have faith."
Reed pitched in 27 games in his previous stint, going 0-1 with a 4.88 ERA and 35 hits allowed over 27 2/3 innings. At Toledo, he gave up 11 runs on 26 hits over 23 1/3 innings with five walks and 26 strikeouts.
From a pitching standpoint, Reed said he tried to get back to throwing strikes consistently and mixing his pitches, utilizing his slider more.
"I was letting stuff snowball," Reed said. "I gave up a lot of ground-ball hits and after that, I would start pitching away from contact when in reality, if I get another ground ball, that's possibly a double-play ball. I just lost some of my aggressiveness and had to go back to attacking hitters, stay down in the zone. I know I can pitch here."
CHICAGO -- Justin Verlander escaped a bases-loaded jam in his opening inning on Friday night with a 96-mph fastball past Tyler Flowers for a called third strike, which was a big deal for a pitcher whose velocity has been scrutinized all season.
The pitch that set it up, however, was an 80-mph curveball Verlander dropped into the strike zone to put him ahead of the count. In the big picture of Verlander's arsenal, that breaking ball was just as big of a deal.
"It definitely can throw guys off some of the other pitches," Verlander said afterwards. "It's always been a big pitch for me. It's nice to be able to execute it."
When Verlander was dominating hitters the previous few years, the curveball used to be a pretty good early-inning barometer of how Verlander would fare. If he was spotting the curveball, hitters were usually in trouble. If he wasn't, they at least had a fighting chance to sit on the fastball, whether it was mid-90s or better.
The numbers from STATS, Inc. show the difference this season. Verlander threw his curveball in the strike 45.7 percent of the time in 2011, 47.9 percent in 2012 and 50.9 last season. That rate is down to 43 percent this season. Considering the rate of swings and misses is about the same, it's the called strike that seems to be the difference.
That said, hitters are doing more damage with the pitch, as well, batting .254 off of it compared with .177 last year, .129 in 2012 and .136 in 2011.
Verlander threw 21 curveballs on Friday, second only to his fastball and threw 12 for strikes -- five of them called. He gave up two hits using it, but both were singles. It was encouraging for Verlander.
"My curveball was good, probably the best it's been in a while," Verlander said. "I was able to throw it for strikes when I wanted, was able to throw it as a chase pitch when I wanted. It had a good break to it. I got some big outs with it. Gave up a couple hits with it, but they weren't sharp hits."
Exits nightcap of doubleheader following fourth-inning at-bat
By Jason Beck
CHICAGO -- Miguel Cabrera saw a chance at an infield hit Saturday night and tried to speed up. The way his bothersome right ankle flared up, he not only didn't end up on first, he didn't go back out to first for the next inning, leaving the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader against the White Sox.
Neither the injury nor the status is new. Whether he plays in Sunday's series finale, or beyond that, wasn't clear as the Tigers left U.S. Cellular Field following their 8-4 win.
Manager Brad Ausmus has talked about sitting Cabrera for a stretch if it would help. At the same time, he said Cabrera wasn't ready to rule himself out for Sunday.
"The last couple days, he said it felt really good, and then today it flared up again," Ausmus said. "Although we discussed [sitting], I don't know if four or five days would do anything, because sometimes he comes in from sleeping overnight and feels good.
"We really want Miggy in the lineup because he's such a valuable part of the team, such a good player, and he's just a presence being in the lineup. We obviously need him to be healthy, too, so it's such a delicate balance."
Cabrera started at first base for both games of Saturday's doubleheader, but looked limited. He struck out three times in the afternoon game, extending an 0-for-15 slump, before hitting a single in his final at-bat, and looked to be struggling to range toward ground balls down the first-base line.
After striking out with a runner on in the third inning, Cabrera smelled a chance at a hit when his fourth-inning comebacker bounced away from White Sox rookie pitcher Chris Bassitt. When Cabrera tried to accelerate, however, he slowed down, hobbling his way to first base as Bassitt collected the ball and threw to Paul Konerko for the out, while Rajai Davis scored from third to give the Tigers a 5-0 lead.
Cabrera had a pained look on his face on his way back to the dugout. Ausmus, who waited until less than an hour before game time before writing Cabrera into the lineup for the nightcap, made a quick decision from there.
"That didn't help, going down the line. It's probably the combination of a long day and that," Ausmus said. "We weren't sure who was going to DH and who was going to play first. We were hoping Miggy's ankle would calm down and it did and he felt good when he took batting practice. But in the end, it was bothering him too much."
Don Kelly, who started the game at third base, went to first when the Tigers came out for the bottom of the fourth. Nick Castellanos entered the game at third.
The decision to start Cabrera at first Saturday night, Ausmus said, came down to his defense with a young contact pitcher on the mound. Kyle Ryan started the game, making his Major League debut. Victor Martinez could have started at first base, but is normally a DH.
Cabrera's injuries and struggles have impacted him at the plate, where his .299 average have him at risk of his first sub-.300 season since 2008, his first season as a Tiger. His run of three consecutive American League batting titles is likely near its end, while his 17 home runs have him on pace for his first season with fewer than 30 homers since 2006, his next-to-last season with the Marlins.
Even so, Ausmus said, "He wants to play. Even tonight after the game, I said, 'Why don't we give you a day tomorrow?' And he said, 'No, no, no, I might be good in the morning.' This is the mentality that he has. He wants to be out there.
"I said to him, 'If we think it's necessary, we can do this.' But he kind of balked at that. Miggy wants to play. He's kind of old-school in that sense. A lot of people would not play with the type of injuries that Miggy's had over the past two seasons, so I give the guy a lot of credit. A lot of times, you don't see it in modern baseball because of the dollars attached to it."
CHICAGO -- The Tigers lost a replay challenge Saturday night when manager Brad Ausmus unsuccessfully appealed an out call on Andrew Romine's ground ball leading off the sixth inning, with Detroit leading, 5-0.
Romine hit a ground ball up the middle that White Sox second baseman Carlos Sanchez fielded and threw against his momentum to Paul Konerko at first base. Umpire Laz Diaz ruled that Sanchez's throw beat Romine to the bag.
Ausmus immediately came out of the dugout and asked for a replay review. After two minutes and six seconds, the call stood.
It was Ausmus' 32nd challenge this season. He has won 19 of them.
Ortega designated for assignment after tough stretch
By Jason Beck
CHICAGO -- Jose Ortega looked like an upside reliever in the Tigers system not that long ago, a hard-throwing, high-strikeout reliever who had flashes of nasty stuff. His Major League stints, however, have been less impressive. With the Tigers out of injured players to put on the 60-day disabled list and out of positional prospects to designate, they had to make a tough choice on who they could afford to lose to make room for Evan Reed.
Exit Ortega, whose contract was designated for assignment on Friday when Reed's contract was purchased from Triple-A Toledo.
Ortega had some outstanding early numbers at Toledo, but ran into struggles down the stretch as one Mud Hens reliever after another made the trip up Interstate 75 to Detroit. He had a 4.78 ERA and a .406 OBP against from June 19 on, nullifying a strong start.
Ortega's only appearance as a Tiger this year was the game in which Anibal Sanchez left early with an injury. Ortega gave up four runs over 1 1/3 innings without giving up a base hit, thanks to five walks.
CHICAGO -- Kyle Ryan spent a good deal of his childhood in the shadows of Tigertown in Auburndale, Fla., but he didn't go to many Spring Training games there. He had his own baseball seasons to worry about.
He did, however, develop an affinity for hunting and fishing that made him quick friends with Triple-A Toledo manager and longtime former central Florida resident Larry Parrish.
So when Ryan told Parrish this week that he had a hunting trip planned once the Minor League season ended, Parrish gave him a hint that he might have something bigger to worry about, asking him what he might do about that if he got a call to the big leagues.
A few days later, he got the news.
"'I've got some terrible news for you: You're going to have to delay your hunting trip for a little while,'" Ryan said Parrish told him.
With that, Ryan was headed to the big leagues and a spot start in Saturday's doubleheader against the White Sox. It comes less than a month after he was promoted to Toledo, and less than five months after he made the jump to Double-A Erie.
"This year has been a big blur," the 22-year-old left-hander said. "I have to keep myself in the mentality of spending a year at each place. When I take that mentality out on the field, if I do get called up, I'm that much more surprised."
Ryan actually has stronger ties to Tigers territory through family in Michigan. His mother is part of the Mott family that has deep roots in the state, and has several relatives in the Escanaba area in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
"My mom is the baby of 13, and just about all of that family lives in Michigan," Ryan said. "So I have a lot of family going to make it tomorrow."
Verlander pitches Tigers to within a half-game of KC
Righty allows one run, fans eight over 7 IP; offense capitalizes on errors
By Jason Beck
CHICAGO -- Statistically, this was Justin Verlander's best outing of the season. That says a lot about where Verlander has been this season.
"Just trying to execute better pitches, not walk so many guys, get ahead in the count, those types of things," Verlander said after seven innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts in the Tigers' 7-1 win over the White Sox on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field. "I know that's still there to be the guy I want to be. Just gotta find it."
Those numbers aren't necessarily vintage Verlander, but at this point, vintage is a luxury. On a night when the Tigers jumped White Sox rookie starter Scott Carroll for seven runs in the first four innings, it was plenty good enough. On a night when the Tigers began another stretch of four games in 48 hours, it was exactly what they needed.
"He's still Justin Verlander," White Sox leadoff hitter Adam Eaton said.
And as Detroit heads into Saturday's day-night doubleheader just a half-game behind Kansas City for the American League Central lead, and one game up on Seattle for the second AL Wild Card, and with a fresh bullpen, it can thank Verlander for the setup. If the Tigers can take both games from the White Sox, they'll guarantee themselves at least a tie atop the division at day's end.
On a night when Verlander stared at the seventh hitter in the batting order in the opening inning with the bases loaded and a run already in, it sure beat the alternative. It wasn't like last Friday, when Robbie Ray exited in the second inning and Detroit ended up using nearly its entire bullpen, as well as its backup shortstop for an inning, and lost by two touchdowns. Still, it was the precipice of disaster.
Maybe the adversity brought out the best in Verlander. It at least brought out arguably his two best pitches of the night.
"You can't put your team in a 3-0 deficit right away," Verlander said. "I made a bad throw to allow those guys to score an easy run, and then once the bases are loaded, you're just thinking to leave the damage where it's at and make your pitch here."
With a 1-1 count on White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, Verlander went to his curveball, the pitch he threw and missed three times in the previous at-bat for a two-out walk to Conor Gillaspie. This time, he put it in the strike zone, setting up Flowers with a 1-2 count.
It was a count for Verlander to try his fastball, and he ended up with his hardest of the night. It came in at 96 mph, and Flowers took it for a called third strike.
"It still takes him a couple pitches to get loose every inning, it seems like," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "But once he does, he seems pretty good for the remainder of the outing. And like he has all year, he's had the ability to turn it up a notch when he feels like he's in trouble.
"We saw a few 95s, I saw at least one 96 up there. So he can still reach back, which is a good sign. He seemed to be able to still reach back in spots that he thought he needed to."
Seven of the first 12 White Sox batters reached base. He limited the damage to a first-inning run with help from his defense, including a solid evening from second baseman Ian Kinsler, and lasted seven innings.
When the Tigers built their lead with a two-run third inning and five-run fourth on a flurry of singles and doubles, none for more than one RBI, Verlander provided shutdown innings, retiring six consecutive batters from the third inning through the fourth. When he needed to thwart threats, he recorded three inning-ending strikeouts with runners in scoring position.
"We had a chance," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said, "and you don't take advantage of it. He usually gets stronger as he goes along. You see him in the middle there, all of the sudden he can get it up there at 95. He gets stronger as he goes along and you have to take advantage of it early and we just missed our shot."
It wasn't vintage Verlander (12-11), not with nine hits allowed, but his seven innings of one-run ball marked his stingiest outing of the season. His eight strikeouts tied a season high, and included the 1,800th of his career. Six of the nine hits came from Eaton and rookie slugger Jose Abreu, both of whom had two singles and a double.
Avila's walk-off hit gives Tigers series win over Yanks
Lobstein solid in first MLB start; Detroit cuts into KC's division lead
By Matt Slovin
DETROIT -- Kyle Lobstein is, for the time being, a relative unknown pitching amongst a rotation stacked with several of the biggest names in baseball.
On Thursday afternoon against the Yankees at Comerica Park, he fit right in. Lobstein's six solid innings set the table for the Tigers to take the rubber game from New York, 3-2. Victor Martinez doubled through the shift to lead off the bottom of the ninth, and Alex Avila sent the Tigers to a walk-off victory with a deep single off the right-field wall.
"That's as high as you can get," Avila said of his emotions following the dramatic win that pushed Detroit into a tie with Seattle for the American League's second Wild Card spot. The Tigers are also 1 1/2 games behind the Royals after KC's loss to the Twins later Thursday.
The clutch hit capped off a ninth inning that was, as described by Detroit manager Brad Ausmus, a roller-coaster ride. To begin the frame, Derek Jeter took what turned out to be his final regular-season at-bat in his home state. Joba Chamberlain allowed the sellout crowd's appreciation to rain down on the Yankees legend in a brief, poignant moment.
A few minutes later, with two outs and runners on the corners, Brian McCann slapped a shot with home run distance to right field off Phil Coke that narrowly hooked foul. Three pitches later, McCann went down on strikes, breathing new life into the Tigers and ensuring Lobstein's impressive day would not go to waste.
Lobstein struggled with some control problems early in his first Major League start -- and second big league appearance -- but worked through them nicely. One of the two runs scored against him, off only four hits, was unearned. He retired the last eight batters he faced in order -- a day after nine straight Yankees collected hits off Detroit ace David Price.
Though the nerves didn't manifest themselves in Lobstein's stat line, he said they were certainly there -- even after he pitched 5 2/3 innings in relief last weekend at Minnesota.
Still, Avila said the young hurler "carried himself out there as if he's pitched in the big leagues for many years."
"Actually, the first inning was pretty smooth sailing for me," Lobstein said. "The second inning's when it kind of kicked in. I got a little bit of nerves going. Just going out there, just trying to go as deep as I can in the game and pitch to contact, which I did today and I was able to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win."
The 25-year-old left-hander was optioned to Triple-A Toledo following the game but will likely return to the rotation as early as next week.
"Any chance I can get, no matter what the situation is or whatever the role is, I just want to be able to help them out," Lobstein said of his situation down the stretch.
Detroit manufactured its first run in the same manner it has used to produce so many this season -- a sacrifice fly. After Nick Castellanos and Don Kelly each singled in the second, Avila skied one to center than was plenty deep to allow Castellanos to score the game's first run.
New York tied the game in the third -- thanks in part to a Castellanos throwing error -- before going ahead in the fourth. After Carlos Beltran doubled Martin Prado to third, McCann got the job done with an RBI groundout for a 2-1 lead.
But the Tigers knotted things in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Rajai Davis and kept the Yankees at bay with scoreless relief appearances form Blaine Hardy, Chamberlain and Coke, who recorded the game's biggest out with the strikeout of McCann.
The approximately six feet to the right of the Comerica Park right-field foul pole was all that kept McCann from giving the Yankees a 5-2 ninth-inning lead that might have been insurmountable at that point in the game.
"Momentum shifts are big in the game of baseball," Ausmus said. "It's not something you can put a statistic on. It's not very tangible. [But] the emotion in a singular game or over the course of a game can be important. That was a big out."
DETROIT -- It was only one game Thursday, but it felt like the Detroit Tigers won twice.
There was the dramatic 3-2 walk-off victory over the New York Yankees that put the Tigers into a tie with the Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot. And the victory gave the Tigers a three-game lead over the Yankees in the same race.
That was undeniably large. But Detroit might have also discovered a fifth starter who can pitch competently, competitively, maybe even successfully.
Kyle Lobstein, making his first Major League start, gave the Tigers a genuine chance to win, working six innings and giving up two runs, only one of them earned. It was a far better performance than Detroit had recently received from other rotation fill-in candidates, Robbie Ray and Buck Farmer.
"He was outstanding," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He threw strikes, for the most part. They put the ball in play, he got outs. I'll take six innings and two runs from just about anyone, but I'll take that from Kyle Lobstein every time out."
With uncertainty surrounding Anibal Sanchez's return from a strained right pectoral muscle, Detroit was in serious need of another starter to give the club a fighting chance at success in that rotation spot. Lobstein filled that role splendidly on Thursday.
After the game, Lobstein was optioned to Triple-A Toledo. That was a move made to get more pitching help for this weekend, with four games in three days in Chicago. The Tigers purchased the contract of reliever Evan Reed from Toledo and announced that Kyle Ryan would start the second game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the White Sox.
But with Monday's roster expansion, Lobstein will be returning to Detroit in a matter of days. It would be reasonable to expect that he would start Tuesday night against the Indians in Cleveland.
When asked if Lobstein had done anything to hurt his chances for making a second start, Ausmus said: "Nope."
Lobstein understands the situation perfectly, seeing that what appears to be a demotion is only that in a technical sense. The trip back to Toledo is a procedural move. He has earned a return trip to the big leagues.
"The expectation is to come back up and get a start or whatever the role may be," Lobstein said. "Whatever they need, that's the key component here. They're in a big race here and things are tight in the division. Any chance I can get, no matter what the situation is or the role is, I just want to be able to help out."
The left-hander helped out in a big way on Thursday. Lobstein, 25, put on a remarkably composed performance against the Bronx Bombers, allowing only four hits and one walk. He does not have overpowering stuff, but he had good command and effectively changed speeds in this game.
"He's not a guy that's going to wow you with anything or strike out a lot of guys, but he's a guy who's going to throw strikes," said Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who supplied the game-winning hit. "He's fearless up there. He's going to change speeds and pitch to contact and try to induce weak contact. The way he threw today was exactly what I expected. He did a great job."
Lobstein said he was helped by getting a long-relief stint in Minnesota last Saturday, prior to making his debut as a starter.
"It helped out a lot, to see Major League hitters and get a feel for what they're doing and get a feel for the umpires, too," Lobstein said.
There was the race for the postseason, there was the hoopla of Derek Jeter's last regular-season game in Detroit, and there were plenty of family and friends on hand. Lobstein's father is originally from Michigan, although Lobstein himself grew up in Flagstaff, Ariz. There were a lot of reasons to become overexcited. But Lobstein remained composed, composed enough to keep the Yankees in check for six innings.
"You have to treat it like any other day, just stay focused and stay calm," he said.
That may have been easier said than done.
"After warming up in the bullpen, after walking to the dugout, I was just looking around and I had a big smile on my face," Lobstein said, with another smile on his face. "I was just trying to take it all in, and I can't compare it to any other feeling that I've had."
The big thing here, for both Lobstein and the Tigers, was that he felt terrific not only before the game, but after the game as well. He has a real chance to provide the pitching help that Detroit needs.
Tigers to promote lefty Ryan for Saturday spot start
By Jason Beck
DETROIT -- Tigers officials spent nearly an hour Thursday morning in discussions in the coaches' conference room at Comerica Park about a spot starter for Saturday. They ended up deciding on a guy who wasn't even in big league camp in the spring.
Kyle Ryan went from a 12-game winner at Class A Lakeland last year to mercurial starter at Double-A Erie this spring. Then he found a hot stretch at Triple-A Toledo after being promoted a month ago. Now, he has a spot start in the big leagues for one half of the Tigers' day-night doubleheader on Saturday against the White Sox in Chicago.
Ryan got the call over Buck Farmer, who made two starts for the Tigers this month but was knocked out in the second inning of his start in last Saturday's doubleheader at Minnesota.
The 22-year-old Ryan was already scheduled to start Saturday for the Mud Hens, putting his unbeaten record at Triple-A on the line. He's 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts at Toledo so far, allowing six earned runs on 21 hits over 33 innings with five walks and 20 strikeouts.
"He's left-handed," manager Brad Ausmus said in summary of his knowledge on him. "I haven't heard too much about him at this point. I do know he's been throwing the ball well as of late."
Ryan was the recommendation of player-development officials based off how he's been throwing the ball. The former 12th-round pick out of Auburndale (Fla.) High School, just outside Lakeland, Ryan has never been a high-strikeout pitcher, and his 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings marks his lowest rate as a pro in his fifth season. However, he limits his damage, and he's held left-handed hitters to a .204 average between Toledo and Erie.
The current plan calls for Ryan to start Saturday's nightcap. Max Scherzer had been scheduled to start that game in a matchup with White Sox ace Chris Sale, but switched up when the White Sox moved Sale to the afternoon tilt.
The Tigers will have to make room on the 40-man roster for Ryan. And unless they put Anibal Sanchez on the 60-day disabled list, effectively ending his season, they'll have to designate somebody for assignment to make room.
DETROIT -- Joakim Soria continues to stretch out his throwing program in his rehab from a left oblique strain, but the Tigers have no timetable on his return.
Soria threw off flat ground Tuesday and Wednesday, and is scheduled to stretch out his throws Friday in Chicago.
From there, he could progress to throwing off a mound, though there's no schedule for that just yet.
There had been some hope last week that Soria wouldn't need much more than the minimum 15-day stay on the disabled list, something team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told MLB Network radio last Friday.
When Soria originally went on the DL Aug. 10, the hope was that he'd miss 2-3 weeks.
DETROIT -- The Tigers could get some long relief help for the stretch run if Luke Putkonen continues to progress. The right-hander began a Minor League rehab assignment with Class A West Michigan on Thursday, his first game action since early May.
Putkonen went on the disabled list April 19 with right elbow inflammation. It looked like a short stint when he went on a rehab assignment in early May, but a setback at Triple-A Toledo had sidelined him ever since.
With Minor League seasons wrapping up, it's not going to be a long rehab stint for Putkonen. West Michigan is headed for the Midwest League playoffs, so its season will be extended.