Found April 04, 2013 on
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New York Mets
The Detroit Tigers' starting pitchers have yet to allow a run, though manager Jim Leyland would probably like to see his next one go a little deeper.
A day after Detroit's maligned bullpen blew a lead, Rick Porcello hopes to avoid a similar fate and help the Tigers win Thursday's series finale against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Detroit starters Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez each threw five scoreless innings in the first two games of this series, giving up a combined five hits and striking out 12. Leyland wanted to limit their pitch counts to begin the season and each had surpassed 90 through five, causing him to turn to a relief corps widely considered to be the Tigers' biggest weakness.
That certainly seemed to be the case Wednesday. With Detroit leading 2-0, Darin Downs allowed a run in the seventh. Joaquin Benoit worked a scoreless eighth but walked the leadoff hitter in the ninth, then Phil Coke gave up a single and a two-run double to Eduardo Escobar as the Twins won 3-2.
"He just made a couple bad pitches at the end," Leyland said of Coke, who saved Monday's 4-2 win in Minnesota. "He got them up, out over the plate, which is the strength of those guys. That's where he got them, and they hit them."
Before the season, the Tigers (1-1) didn't re-sign three-time All-Star closer Jose Valverde, who struggled in the playoffs, and supposed heir apparent Bruce Rondon was sent to Triple-A for more seasoning. That left the team with a closer by committee. Drew Smyly may be part of that group but allowed both runs in the opener.
Porcello didn't give up many runs in March, winning all four of his spring starts last month while posting a 2.25 ERA - a major difference from his poor finish to 2012. He had a 1-6 record over his final nine outings, failing to get beyond the sixth inning in the last six, and didn't make the playoff rotation.
"I think he's got some things figured out," Leyland told the team's official website. "... He looked very, very good this spring - really good."
Porcello (10-12, 4.59 ERA) hasn't had much success in April, going 5-9 with a 6.13 ERA - his highest in any month. The right-hander, though, is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last four starts at Target Field.
Former Twin Torii Hunter is enjoying his latest return to Minnesota, getting four hits in this series. Reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, meanwhile, has driven in a combined three runs.
Cabrera had a pair of two-out RBI singles Wednesday and is batting .377 with 27 RBIs in his last 17 games against the Twins (1-1).
The Tigers have won 16 of 21 in Minnesota, but Mike Pelfrey will try to help the Twins keep reversing that trend in his return from Tommy John surgery.
Elbow problems limited the right-hander to three starts for the New York Mets in 2012, and the Twins signed him to a one-year deal in December.
"It's going to be a big moment for him. A lot of hard work goes into that. He had to really push it to the limit," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' website. "But there's always fear involved when you do something like that to your arm. But you have to push through that fear."
Pelfrey, a 15-game winner in 2010 for the Mets, lost his only start against Detroit on June 30, 2011, allowing five runs, eight hits and five walks over 4 2-3 innings.
BEST OF MAXIM
After the Detroit Tigers' short-lived and frightening (if you're a Tigers fan at least) experiment with the closer by committee approach, the team went out and signed Jose Valverde. Papa Grande will likely eventually be added to the 25-man roster, but for now the deal is of the minor league variety.
Jose Valverde has signed a minor-league contract w/ the Tigers.
Even though he blew a save Wednesday, Phil Coke should be the Tigers’ closer right now.
Phil Coke should be given the Detroit Tigers’ closer role, for now, even after Wednesday’s blown save against the Twins.
Coke proved himself on the biggest stage last postseason, when he stepped in for Jose Valverde to help lock down games. He also had an excellent opening day performance...
Three games into their season, the Tigers have already sent their fan base into a panic.
No, it wasnt Phil Cokes blown save against the Twins in Minnesota on Wednesday that has caused this tizzy.
It was the announcement that Detroit has signed their former closer, Jose "Papa Grande" Valverde, to a minor-league deal.
Valverde will begin his season in Lakeland, Fla...
A 3-game series has come and gone for the Detroit Tigers. And in classic Motor City fashion, fans are abuzz over what they just saw. Losing 2 of 3 to the measly Twins simply shouldn’t happen.
Questions that have already arisen from a fairly insignificant series in early April include:
Will the Tigers stink on the road again, thus preventing them from pulling away...
The Detroit Tigers have agreed to a one-year contract with reliever Jose Valverde, who is expected back with the team Wednesday.
And manager Jim Leyland says Valverde will be Detroit's closer immediately.
Valverde was the Tigers' closer the last three years, but the team was prepared to let him leave as a free agent after he faltered during the 2012 postseason. But he never...
MINNEAPOLIS Torii Hunter is not a stranger to Target Field, having visited the Twins' new park while with the Los Angeles Angels. But Hunter will be spending quite a bit more time this season at the downtown Minneapolis ballpark.
Hunter signed with the Detroit Tigers this year as a free agent, meaning he'll face his former Twins club plenty this season. As it turns out...
An Omar Infante walk and Austin Jackson double gave the Detroit Tigers a glorious chance to erase a 3-2 deficit in Minnesota on Thursday afternoon — two in scoring position, nobody out, and Torii Hunter-Miguel Cabrera-Prince Fielder coming up.
But Hunter struck out and, after an intentional walk to Cabrera, so did Fielder. Victor Martinez then meekly ended the threat with a pop...
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Phil Coke is now 1-for-2 as the Detroit Tigers’ makeshift closer. After cruising to an easy save on opening day against the Minnesota Twins, Coke faltered Wednesday afternoon as the Twins rallied for a 3-2 victory.
Just as he did in Monday’s 4-2 Detroit win, Joaquin Benoit opened the ninth inning on the mound, this time protecting a one...
Well…..in baseball it’s amazing how things seldom go as expected. Or history repeats itself.
The Detroit Tigers dropped two of three in Minnesota against a supposedly downtrodden and hopeless Minnesota Twins team to open the 2013 baseball season. Some of their struggles surprised very few, but some were probably not expected.
For those in the “history repeats itself” camp...
The Detroit Tigers signed their former closer Jose Valverde on Thursday to a minor league deal, he will report to Lakeland, Fla.
“We love Papa Grande. He’s been fantastic for this organization,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said today via The Detroit Free Press. “He’s been fantastic as a person. We saw a little fall-off last year, and it wasn’t just during the postseason...
All offseason long, the Detroit Tigers denied interest in re-signing free-agent closer Jose Valverde. Every other team in baseball also effectively denied interest in signing Valverde. The Tigers did next to nothing to address their closer situation, and on Wednesday, Phil Coke blew a save against the Twins. Thursday, the Tigers signed Valverde, albeit to a minor-league contract...
Eduardo Escobar's two-run double with one out in the ninth inning lifted the Minnesota Twins to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.
After Joaquin Benoit issued a leadoff walk to Trevor Plouffe, reliever Phil Coke took over. Coke got the first out, but Brian Dozier's single advanced pinch-runner Jamey Carroll to third. Then Escobar drove the first pitch Coke...
It's Opening Day at Comerica Park in Downtown Detroit!! The Detroit Tigers take on a familiar foe from last years ALCS, the New York Yankees. Here are today's starting lineups:
For the visiting New York Yankees:
1. CF Gardner
2. 2B Cano
3. 3B Youkilis
4. DH Hafner
5. RF Boesch
6. SS Nunez
7. LF Suzuki
8. 1B Overbay
9. C Stewart
SP Ivan Nove...
Now that Jose Valverde has signed a minor-league contract with the Tigers, the obvious question is: When will Papa Grande be back as the closer?
The obvious answer is: When he can once again command his out-pitch, the split-fingered fastball at Triple-A Toledo.
Valverde lost the ability to throw the splitter effectively late last season and became a one-pitch guy.