DETROIT -- Considering the Tigers had an eight-run deficit by the time Duane Below entered Game 1 of a split doubleheader against the Rangers in the second inning, he probably wasn't going to add to his team-leading win total, no matter how many innings he pitched. But his long relief work Saturday might have been his best yet.
Statistically, it was actually the best relief work the Tigers have had in 17 years.
Not since Greg Keagle in 1996 had a Tigers pitcher tossed at least six scoreless innings in relief in a game. Not since knuckleballer Steve Sparks finished out a 17-inning game in 2003, in fact, had a Tigers reliever tossed six innings of any quality. Rick Porcello's quick exit with nobody out in the second inning of Saturday's 10-4 loss gave Below a chance.
Below, a starting candidate until the end of Spring Training, ran with it, allowing no runs on four hits over six innings with four strikeouts. The Tigers may have lost, but they saved most of their bullpen for what was left of the weekend.
"I was just trying to go out and get outs and try to do the job they called down for me to come in," Below said. "That was my main focus, keeping the game where it was and not really focusing on who was up. Just try to get the ball in play and let the defense do the work."
Below did that as a left-handed pitcher against a lineup comprised mainly of right-handed hitters. Half of the four hits he allowed came to lefties Josh Hamilton and David Murphy.