DETROIT -- Gerald Laird asks only for his pitchers to give him a fighting chance when it comes to throwing out basestealers. After a slow start, he's getting a chance to fight back on opposing running games.
Two weeks ago, opponents had stolen 12 bases in 15 tries with Laird behind the plate, and Tigers starting pitchers were struggling to hold runners. Since then, he has thrown out three runners in five attempts, including two Angels on Saturday. It hasn't altogether reversed his numbers -- his caught stealing rate stood at 30 percent entering Sunday -- but it's a start.
Of particular interest was the fact that the two throw-outs came with Jeremy Bonderman on the mound. The right-hander had struggled to hold runners in his previous starts. Opponents were 4-for-4 running on Bonderman, including two from the Angels in their previous meeting April 21 out west.
Laird actually stole more bases than he gave up Saturday. His eighth-inning swipe of second base was not only his first of the year, but his first attempt. Add in a quality tag on Hideki Matsui trying to score in the sixth inning, and it was a pretty good afternoon from Laird on a day when he went hitless.
"I didn't contribute at the plate, but I tried to do the best I can defensively," Laird said.