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Notes: Inge gets a rest

Notes: Inge gets a rest

BALTIMORE -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave slumping third baseman Brandon Inge a one-day break Tuesday, putting Neifi Perez in the starting lineup for the second game of the series with the Orioles.

Inge has struggled to an 0-for-20 start in Detroit's first six games. He went 0-for-3 in Monday's 6-2 loss to the Orioles, and Leyland decided it was time to give the 29-year-old a day off.

Perez, who batted ninth Tuesday, hadn't had an official at-bat this season while appearing in just one game. But he brought a .500 career average against Orioles starter Jaret Wright into the game.

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"He's obviously struggled, so let's just get him away from it for a day," Leyland said of Inge. "Sometimes you're fighting to get that first hit, [and] people will keep reminding you, you don't have a hit, and sooner or later you start playing mind games. Just getting him away from it for a game [could help], and Neifi's 4-for-8 off this guy. We're checking out Neifi as well."

Inge played a big role in Detroit's surprise run to the World Series last year, producing career highs in homers (27) and RBIs (83). He hit .353 in the World Series loss to the Cardinals.

But he just hasn't gotten started this season. Inge has walked three times, but he has struck out eight.

Perez helped his own cause with two good defensive plays early in Tuesday's game. In the first inning, he raced in to make a nice barehanded pick up and throw to get Melvin Mora by a step at first. Perez then came over to pick up a slow grounder and throw out Miguel Tejada leading off the second.

Looking good: Tigers reliever Wilfredo Ledezma has gotten off to a very good start, throwing four scoreless innings in two appearances.

Ledezma threw 2 1/3 innings in Monday's loss. He gave up a run-scoring bloop double to Jay Gibbons, the first batter he faced when coming in for starter Chad Durbin in the fifth, but he shut down the Orioles after that.

The 26-year-old Ledezma has given up just one hit while striking out one and walking two. Opposing batters have an .077 average against him so far, and Leyland has noticed.

"I think Ledezma has made a great impression," the Tigers manager said. "He could end up being a huge weapon for us down there if he continues."

The hot bat: Second baseman Placido Polanco has been the one Detroit batter who has been hot in the first week of the season.

He came into Tuesday's game with a .423 average, having gone 11-for-26 -- all singles. This solid start comes after a very good Spring Training, during which Polanco led the Grapefruit League with a .491 average and a .569 on-base percentage.

Polanco ended up fourth with 27 hits and with a .618 slugging percentage. That hot hitting carried over into the regular season and into Tuesday's game, when Polanco singled in his first at-bat.

Ivan Rodriguez was the only other Tigers starter with a batting average of at least .300. The catcher was hitting .320 through the team's first six games.

Leyland and others acknowledged Detroit's bats certainly haven't been hot at first, but no one's really worried about it.

"I'm not sure if it's a mental thing for guys, or it's just a habit thing for guys or it's just a consistency thing for guys," said outfielder Curtis Granderson, who was batting .292 before Tuesday's game. "But those that traditionally hit in the year are finally going to pull themselves [up]."

Dee-fense, dee-fense: The Tigers may be struggling at the plate, but they're certainly doing fine in the field through the first six games.

Detroit has made only two errors this season and posted a .991 fielding percentage, which is tied for second in the American League. The two errors are tied for the third-fewest in the AL.

Tampa Bay and Seattle lead the AL with just one error apiece, while Toronto and Chicago are deadlocked with the Tigers with two miscues so far.

Coming up: Justin Verlander (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will go up against Orioles left-hander Adam Loewen (1-0, 3.60 ERA) in Wednesday's finale of the three-game series. Verlander had a strong outing last week against Kansas City, giving up one unearned run on two hits in six innings and getting a no-decision. Loewen got the Orioles' first win of the season against the Yankees on Friday.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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