DETROIT -- Yes, those were 90-mph sliders coming from Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque on Saturday night, including on consecutive pitches to strike out the Red Sox's Shane Victorino and escape an eighth-inning jam.
Yes, the Tigers are taking that as a good sign.
"Yes, he's healthy," pitching coach Jeff Jones said.
It has to be more than health. Alburquerque has averaged about 86 mph on his slider for his career, according to various sources, and slightly higher than that this year. A 90-mph slider, however, is well beyond that, and more in line with something from 100-mph fastballer Bruce Rondon.
Alburquerque said after Saturday's game that the adrenaline of a tight situation might have played a part. He retired the top third of the Red Sox order after a walk and a single put two runners on in the eighth inning.
For game purposes, it didn't mean much in a 9-2 game. For Alburquerque's purposes of winning back his manager's trust, it was big.
"The slider last night was OK, but a little bit different looking slider at times," Jim Leyland said. "At times, it was real good. Plus, it's just a matter of consistency. I think he'll be fine."