Tigers not resting on latest victory

Tigers not resting on latest victory

PHOENIX -- It's a safe assumption that the Tigers will have their socks up on Sunday. Manager Jim Leyland is more concerned about where their bats will be against Randy Johnson.

After a pregame suggestion from Edgar Renteria had the Tigers taking the field Saturday with their socks showing, Detroit had a well-executed game to end its five-game losing streak with a win against the team with the best record in the Majors. It had more to do with luck than fashion, no doubt, but baseball players rarely challenge superstitions when they seem to work.

"Just had to mix it up, man," outfielder Matt Joyce said. "We just figured change something up, maybe change our mental approach. We just changed it up and turned it around, hopefully."

Joyce said it was Renteria who came to him and said they were going with the look for that game. Joyce was fine with whatever was going to change their luck.

Leyland lets the players handle things like that, but he had no involvement.

"I don't know what the deal was," Leyland said. "I don't pay any attention to that. That's why I wear mine [up] all the time. So maybe I should wear mine down."

What concerned Leyland more was building off of this victory -- not just statistically, but mentally. These, after all, were the results the Tigers were expected to get when the season started. They were considered among the better teams in baseball along with the Diamondbacks, who have boasted the best record in the Major Leagues for much of the season.

A win in Sunday's rubber game to the Interleague Series could go further toward getting the Tigers at least headed towards that direction.

"I don't look at it like that," Leyland said when asked if the win brought a sense of relief. "We've got a lot of games. This, to me, is not a night to celebrate. Yes, obviously, we got a win. But I want us where we expect to win. It's supposed to be the rule here, not the exception.

"It'll be a big win if we play good and pitch good [Sunday]."

That will come down largely to the battle of two aggressive left-handers, one of whom learned plenty by watching the other.

Though Nate Robertson doesn't have the towering size of Randy Johnson, nor the velocity that the Big Unit once boasted, he has some of the same mentality, especially with sliders inside. He picked up part of that by watching Johnson.

"I used to love watching him when he had his more dominant stuff, throwing fastballs hard in to right-handed hitters and a devastating slider," Robertson said Saturday. "That's the Randy Johnson I remember most, but it was also just watching his presence on the mound. His attitude of, 'I'm going to come right at you, and I'm going to beat you every time,' it was fun to watch."

Pitching matchup
DET: LHP Nate Robertson (1-4, 6.04 ERA)
Robertson turned in his first quality start of the season Tuesday at Kansas City, scattering two runs over seven innings, but ended up with no decision in his duel with Zack Greinke. Nonetheless, the performance offered some hope that the left-hander is getting closer to his aggressive pitching self. He gave up 10 hits in the outing, but limited the scoring damage to a Jose Guillen two-run double while not walking anyone.

ARI: LHP Randy Johnson (3-1, 5.40 ERA)
Johnson has won his last two starts to give him 287 for his career. In his last outing, he wasn't particularly sharp, as he allowed four runs over five innings to the Rockies at Chase Field. He also hit a ball off the wall in the second but stumbled over first base and had to hold with a single.

Brandon Inge is expected to start at third base Sunday, giving Carlos Guillen an extra day of rest ahead of Monday's off-day. ... No active player has more at-bats against Johnson than Ivan Rodriguez, who's 18-for-73 (.247) against him with four doubles, a home run, five RBIs and 17 strikeouts. ... Miguel Cabrera is a .397 (23-for-58) career hitter at Chase Field, mostly from his time as a National League foe with the Florida Marlins.

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Up next
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Tigers (Justin Verlander, 1-7, 6.05) vs. Mariners (Carlos Silva, 3-2, 4.17), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Tigers (Kenny Rogers, 3-4, 6.65) vs. Mariners (Miguel Batista, 3-5, 6.11), 7:05 p.m. ET

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