Galarraga finding success with Tigers

Galarraga finding success with Tigers

DETROIT -- Armando Galarraga has fingered a prominent reason for his sudden success this season.

"I have twice the break on my pitches from last year," Galarraga said.

Last year in the Texas system, Galarraga went a combined 11-8 at Double-A Frisco, Triple-A Oklahoma and the Rangers, with an ERA over 5.00.

This season, his 5-2 record and 3.70 ERA lead the rotation. Before coming up to the Tigers in April as an injury replacement for Dontrelle Willis, Galarraga won both his starts at Triple-A Toledo, giving up three earned runs in 12 innings.

"This year, I am prepared to pitch [in the Majors]," Galarraga said. "I needed to work hard and concentrate more, and I did."

Throwing his slider for a strike has helped. In his 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball in his last start against the Indians, he threw 17 of his 22 sliders for strikes. But in his two-run sixth inning, he threw just four of eight sliders over the plate.

"When he finishes his slider, he's got a good one," manager Jim Leyland said. "That's key for him."

Galarraga takes the hill as the Tigers start Round 2 of Interleague Play. He earned the win in his Interleague debut in mid-May against the Diamondbacks, which stands as Detroit's only Interleague win this season.

He'll face Dodgers right-hander Derek Lowe, who grew up in nearby Dearborn, Mich., and graduated from Edsel Ford High School.

The Tigers face the Dodgers for the first time since 2005.

The two teams have played twice in recent Interleague Play. The Dodgers swept a three-game series at Comerica Park in 2003 and won two out of three in Los Angeles two years later.

Joe Torre's Dodgers have a sub-.500 record and have gone 4-6 in their past 10 games, heading into Thursday. After a three-game set with the Dodgers, the Tigers travel to San Francisco and San Diego, teams with some of the worst records in baseball.

The sweep of the White Sox provided a good start. Now, the Tigers have a realistic chance during Interleague Play to climb toward a .500 record.

Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Armando Galarraga (5-2, 3.70 ERA)
Galarraga just missed his second straight quality start against the Indians. He gave up two earned runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings to earn his first career win at Comerica Park. He had his slider working, and when he does, he can be quite impressive. The Tigers, meanwhile, improved to 7-2 when he starts. Galarraga has never faced the Dodgers, but he did perform well in his only Interleague start. He held the Diamondbacks to two runs over six innings.

LAD: RHP Derek Lowe (4-5, 4.15 ERA)
It's a homecoming for Michigan native Derek Lowe, who also is coming off a wild win over the Cubs. The Dodgers were losing when Lowe left the game, even though he had taken a no-hitter into the fifth inning. But a rare five-run rally against Carlos Zambrano gave Lowe a second consecutive win and fourth consecutive quality start. Lowe is 7-1 with a 1.82 ERA lifetime against the Tigers.

Interleague record: 101-95 overall, 1-2 in 2008

2008 Interleague schedule
• May 16 at Diamondbacks: Lost, 4-3
• May 17 at Diamondbacks: Won, 3-2
• May 18 at Diamondbacks: Lost, 4-0
• June 13-15 vs. Dodgers
• June 16-18 at Giants
• June 20-22 at Padres
• June 24-26 vs. Cardinals
• June 27-29 vs. Rockies

Injured outfielder Clete Thomas will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo on Friday. ... The Tigers have outrighted the contract of reliver Francisco Cruceta to Toledo. ... Injured reliever Joel Zumaya visted Comerica Park. He will make his next rehab appearance at Triple-A Toledo on Saturday. ... Alex Avlia, the Tigers' fifth-round pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft, worked out and took batting practice on the field at Comerica Park.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
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Up next
• Saturday: Tigers (Eddie Bonine, Major League debut) vs. Dodgers (Brad Penny, 5-8, 5.38), 3:55 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Tigers (Nate Robertson, 4-6, 5.88) vs. Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 0-1, 4.50), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Tigers (Justin Verlander, 3-9, 4.65) at Giants (Tim Lincecum, 8-1, 1.99), 10:15 p.m. ET

Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.