DETROIT -- The Tigers spent most of May trying to find opportunities to get Phil Coke some situations to work. They've found plenty during this recent skid.
He entered this week having thrown just three innings over three appearances in a three-week stretch. His mop-up work Saturday gave him 6 2/3 innings in a six-day stretch.
They haven't all been productive innings, of course. He took the loss Wednesday in Cleveland, obviously, and he gave up a run on three hits over two innings two days before that. But they've been opportunities to try to get him going. He has had scoreless appearances his last two outings, showing what manager Brad Ausmus said might have been his best form of the year.
"He's definitely thrown better in his last couple outings for sure," Ausmus said. "Maybe there's something to be said for him being a little tired, because his velocity was still good. Maybe when he's tired, his command's a little better. He doesn't try to overthrow it. …
"He's really helped us out a lot. We all know how short the 'pen's been the past week. He's given us some big outs."
According to info from MLB.com's Gameday app and brooksbaseball.net, Coke averaged 96 mph on his fastball Saturday, to go with a sinker that came in at just over 94. Both were well above his season averages. His velocity was much the same on Wednesday in Cleveland with a different radar gun.