Bullpen gets plenty of work despite quality starts

Bullpen gets plenty of work despite quality starts

OAKLAND -- The Tigers entered Friday's game against the Athletics with nine consecutive quality starts from their rotation. Yet they don't quite have their bullpen the way they want it. Even Thursday night's gem from Max Scherzer and a 10-run outburst from Detroit's offense wasn't enough to help.

By the time the Tigers finished off Friday's 10-6 win, they had used their entire late-inning combination of closer Jose Valverde, eighth-inning man Joaquin Benoit and setup relievers Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel. And Collin Balester, who hadn't thrown in a game since April 29, threw just two pitches Thursday.

Coke wasn't available Friday, having thrown four times in the previous five days and using 16 pitches Thursday thanks to two infield singles and a walk. Benoit was available but threw 18 pitches Thursday to record his lone out of the game.

Once Brandon Inge's grand slam made it a four-run game, manager Jim Leyland was using his bullpen because he had to, not because he wanted to, as he likes to say. That was more of a problem when the Tigers rotation was struggling to put up effective innings.

"It's kind of a complicated thing that's working itself out now that everything is intact," Leyland said.