Houston at Detroit

Scoreboard
Houston (5-4)000014000572
Detroit (5-6) «20103002x8101

Tigers 8, Astros 5

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LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has plenty of hitting at his disposal and a top-notch starting rotation. His bullpen, though, could be a problem.

"I am concerned," Leyland said. "I am not promoting anyone to closer just yet. We don't have a closer right now."

Before the Tigers' 8-5 win over the Houston Astros on Monday, Leyland emphasized that he is uncomfortable with not having a true closer that he can count on.

On Monday, Potential Tigers closers Brayan Villarreal and Al Albuquerque each struck out the side in their only inning in relief of Rick Porcello, who struck out six in four innings.

Jose Valverde was not brought back after he had 35 saves last year but was rocked in the postseason, pitching four times before losing his job.

"Valverde has never been discussed," Leyland said. "I'm shocked and broken hearted that he doesn't have a job, but we knew we weren't bringing him back."

That left the Tigers without a proven closer. Much of the speculation this spring training has been that 22-year-old right-hander Bruce Rondon would step in to the role. Rondon moved from Class-A to Triple-A last year, but he's been hit hard this spring.

Leyland said Rondon was never anointed the new closer and that there were several candidates for the job. It is too early to count Rondon out of the mix, though, or for that matter, anyone else.

"Rondon is still a candidate," Leyland said. "He's just throwing it hard and they are hitting it pretty hard."

Leyland emphasized that he is concerned about not having a true closer by opening day. He said he'd rather not go with a closer-by-committee plan, but all options are open.

"Is it a concern? Sure it is," Leyland said. "But we didn't have a closer two months ago either. It's just too early to say. At some point this spring we are going to have to make a decision. Any of them will pitch well enough or they won't. With Rondon, even his outings had been good so far I wouldn't have appointed him our closer yet."

Leyland said he has a Plan B but isn't willing to discuss it right now, but he wants a closer rather than a committee.

"No question it is 100 percent better to have one closer," Leyland said. "If you don't have a closer you are open game. I just know I would be a lot more confident if I had a closer right now."

Rondon had 27 saves last season during his rise through the Tigers organization. The returning Detroit pitchers combined for only five saves last season, led by Joaquin Benoit with two.

Jared Cosart started for the Astros and allowed three earned runs in two innings. He also walked four. The Astros walked nine and committed two errors.

NOTES: Leyland reported that RHP Max Scherzer felt fine on Monday, one day after making his first start of the spring. Scherzer had shoulder discomfort at the end of 2012. ... Astros OF Rick Ankiel had another hit to raise his spring average to .467. . Former Astros pitcher Roger Clemens is back in camp for the second of three stints. . Astros RHP Bud Norris will pitch a simulated game in the bullpen on Wednesday, the day of his next scheduled start.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Detroit

A. Avila
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 3
Houston

J. Maxwell
AB 2
R 2
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Houston Astros
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jose Altuve, 2B3010011 .250
    Jacob Elmore, 2B1000111 .222
Fernando Martinez, LF2100112 .286
    Jason Jaramillo, C1000112 .333
Carlos Pena, 1B3110020 .235
    Brandon Laird, 3B1000001 .400
Chris Carter, DH3011020 .211
Jason Castro, C3011001 .400
    George Springer, PR-CF1100010 .400
Justin Maxwell, CF2212110 .250
    Nate Freiman, 1B1000010 .263
Rick Ankiel, RF2010110 .467
    Trevor Crowe, LF1000010 .222
Matt Dominguez, 3B3000012 .286
    Jimmy Paredes, RF1000010 .125
Jonathan Villar, SS4011001 .100
Totals32575515  
Batting
2B - Jose Altuve (2, Porcello), Carlos Pena (1, Putkonen), Jonathan Villar (1, Benoit)
HR - Justin Maxwell (1, Ortega)
SF - Chris Carter (1)
RBI - Chris Carter (3), Jason Castro (5), Justin Maxwell 2 (2), Jonathan Villar (1)
SB - Jonathan Villar (1, 3rd base off Benoit/R. Cabrera)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Altuve-Villar-Pena, Villar-Altuve-Pena
E - Jacob Elmore (2, Misplayed grounder), Jonathan Villar (1, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jarred Cosart (L,0-1) 2433410 4.50
Joshua Zeid 1000110 2.25
Alex White 1.2432210 4.91
Kevin Chapman 1.1000020 0.00
Josh Fields 1000220 0.00
Jose Cisnero 1222000 6.75
WP - Jarred Cosart (2), Alex White (1), Jose Cisnero (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Jarred Cosart 28-12, Joshua Zeid 8-4, Alex White 21-12, Kevin Chapman 8-8, Josh Fields 15-7, Jose Cisnero 6-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jarred Cosart 3-2, Joshua Zeid 1-0, Alex White 2-3, Jose Cisnero 1-2
Batters Faced - Jarred Cosart 14, Joshua Zeid 3, Alex White 12, Kevin Chapman 4, Josh Fields 5, Jose Cisnero 5
Detroit Tigers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Austin Jackson, CF3000102 .190
    Daniel Fields, CF1000012 .000
Torii Hunter, RF4120001 .238
    Avisail Garcia, PR-RF1000002 .200
Andy Dirks, LF3210124 .333
    Tyler Collins, LF1110000 .350
Prince Fielder, 1B2010102 .353
    Matt Tuiasosopo, 1B2111000 .067
Alex Avila, DH3113110 .143
Jhonny Peralta, SS3000101 .200
    Eugenio Suarez, SS1000000 .000
Brayan Pena, C2111101 .167
    Ramon Cabrera, C1000100 .000
Kevin Russo, 3B4111033 .368
Danny Worth, 2B2011200 .286
Totals33810797  
Batting
2B - Matt Tuiasosopo (1, Cisnero), Brayan Pena (1, White), Kevin Russo (3, White)
SF - Alex Avila (2)
RBI - Matt Tuiasosopo (1), Alex Avila 3 (4), Brayan Pena (3), Kevin Russo (4), Danny Worth (2)
SB - Ramon Cabrera (1, 2nd base off Fields/Jaramillo), Danny Worth (1, 2nd base off White/Castro)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Fielder-Peralta-Porcello, Suarez-Worth-Tuiasosopo
E - Brayan Villarreal (1, Misplayed grounder)
Detroit Tigers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Rick Porcello (W,1-1) 4300060 3.38
Luke Putkonen (H,1) 1.1244310 8.44
Jose Ortega (H,1) 0.2111011 2.25
Joaquin Benoit (H,3) 1100110 2.25
Al Alburquerque (H,1) 1000030 2.25
Brayan Villarreal (S,1) 1000130 2.25
WP - Luke Putkonen (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Rick Porcello 26-26, Luke Putkonen 20-8, Jose Ortega 5-5, Joaquin Benoit 9-5, Al Alburquerque 9-9, Brayan Villarreal 14-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rick Porcello 2-3, Luke Putkonen 1-2, Jose Ortega 1-0, Joaquin Benoit 1-0, Brayan Villarreal 1-0
Batters Faced - Rick Porcello 14, Luke Putkonen 9, Jose Ortega 3, Joaquin Benoit 4, Al Alburquerque 3, Brayan Villarreal 5
Game Information
Attendance - 6924
Game Time - 3:39
Temperature - 60
Umpires - Home - Jeff Gosney, First Base - Jerry Layne, Second Base - Jeff Nelson, Third Base - Mark Wegner