Notes: Zumaya mixing up his pitches

Notes: Zumaya mixing up his pitches

MINNEAPOLIS -- Joel Zumaya is going to live on the power of his fastball as long as he has it. That won't change. But if his five-out hold on Saturday showed anything, it's that he's not afraid to go at hitters with a change of pace.

Less than a week after a split fingernail left him wondering if he would be able to throw his breaking ball anytime soon, Zumaya had no qualms about throwing it on Saturday. After his first pitch of the night was a 99-mph fastball to induce a double play and end the seventh inning, his final pitch was an offspeed pitch he dropped over the plate on an unsuspecting Michael Cuddyer to retire the side in the eighth.

Manager Jim Leyland has generally avoided using his flame-throwing setup man on back-to-back days, especially if he goes more than an inning. Since Zumaya needed just 14 pitches for five outs on Saturday, however, he was available for a key eighth-inning out.

"It's been good," he said. "I had the little incident with my nail, but I'm just trying to go out there and have fun and try to get outs when we need them."

Zumaya has talked since Spring Training about trying to use more variety in his pitches, both to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball and to try to get quicker outs and more efficient outings. Since coming back last month from surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his middle finger, however, he has made a point of mixing his stuff.

Leyland cautions that Zumaya is going to live on his fastball as long as he has it. But he likes what Zumaya is trying to do.

"I think that's a good adjustment that he has to make," Leyland said. "I think guys were charging him. When he charges them and they charge him, something's got to give. Most of the time, it's OK for him. And other times, they get him.

"I think it's a very valuable lesson for him. I think what it does more than anything else is it'll give him an option when he does have the 98-100 mph [fastball], that he's got something else to go to. That's what I like about it. And he won't be afraid to throw it."

Who's on first: A day after Carlos Guillen took a Matt Guerrier fastball off of his right shoulder, he was back in the lineup at first base.

"He's sore," Leyland said, "and his legs get sore on this [turf], too. So I put him over at first. [Ramon] Santiago moves pretty good on this stuff. It's fast, so it makes sense."

There weren't really any days off for regulars on Sunday. Even with a day game after a night game on the artificial surface, the Tigers had pretty much their everyday lineup on the field.

Fool me once: The Twins set up their first run on Saturday with a hit-and-run play that moved Nick Punto from first base to third. Second baseman Placido Polanco took off to cover second base when right-handed hitting Jason Bartlett hit an opposite-field ground ball right where Polanco had been covering.

When Bartlett came up in the ninth with the potential tying run on first, the Twins put on the hit-and-run play again. This time, shortstop Santiago moved over to cover to leave Polanco between first and second. Bartlett slapped another ground ball, but right up the middle where Santiago was positioned.

Whitecaps win: The Class A West Michigan Whitecaps wrapped up their third Midwest League championship in four years and fifth in their 14-year history on Saturday night with an 11-5 win over Beloit in Wisconsin. Scott Sizemore and Michael Bertram both went 3-for-5 with two runs scored for the Whitecaps, who used an eight-run fifth inning to pull ahead for good.

Larish, Below earn Minor League honors: Double-A Erie first baseman Jeff Larish and West Michigan left-hander Duane Below were selected as the Tigers' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

Larish, a 2005 First-Year Player Draft selection following a standout career at Arizona State, led the Eastern League with 28 home runs and 101 RBIs to go with a .267 average. Below, a 19th-round selection last summer out of Lake Michigan College, led the Midwest League with 13 wins and 160 strikeouts while posting a 2.97 ERA in 26 starts.

Coming up: The Tigers have their AL Central showdown against the Indians with a three-game series at Jacobs Field, starting with Monday's series opener at 7:05 p.m. ET. Kenny Rogers (3-2, 4.50 ERA) will try to continue his solid September since returning from the disabled list when he takes the mound opposite Paul Byrd (15-6, 4.34).

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.