Dirks responds to move up in batting order

The Sports Xchange
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--LF Andy Dirks was bumped to second in the batting order and responded with a single in the first plus a solo home run in the eighth. The move was made to give a spark to an underperforming offense. "I don't think it changes things (for me) a whole lot," Dirks said. "I've hit fifth, eighth and in the three-hole last year. In my career, I've hit just about everywhere. Once you get in the batter's box, it's just you and the pitcher." "Dirks can move the ball around a little," manager Jim Leyland said. "That was a real big home run because it put us two runs up."

--RHP Rick Porcello turned in his second strong outing since adopting a hands-behind-the-head wind-up with nobody on base. He gave up a bases-empty home run to 1B Adam Dunn in the first inning but pitched shutout ball the rest of his 6 1/3 inning stint. He was removed after hitting a batter and giving up a walk, both with one out. "I might have been one batter too long in taking him out," manager Jim Leyland said. "If we get pitching like we have the last two games, we'll be all right." "I was moving my fastball in and out," said Porcello, who allowed three runs over eight innings in his previous start. "I mixed in some sliders. My changeup wasn't in play because they had so many right-handed hitters in their lineup."

--CF Austin Jackson will have people calling him "Rickey" after Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson if he keeps this up. "That might be a stretch," Jackson said after leading off a game with a home run for the sixth time in his brief career. Twice this season, Jackson has hit a home run in the Tigers' first at-bat. His fourth home run of the season tied the score at 1-1. "Bouncing right back was a big one," manager Jim Leyland said. Jackson pounded a 2-0 fastball over the left-field fence.

--RF Brennan Boesch was dropped from second to eighth in manager Jim Leyland's batting order in the hope it will help both him and the ballclub. "I think he's a good player, a player with a high ceiling," Leyland said, "but one thing he has to learn to do is relax. He wants to (do) so much so bad." Boesch recently had a nine-game hitting streak in which he totaled 11 hits. He went 0-for-4 hitting eighth. "This is not a punishment," Leyland said. "We've got to start scoring runs. You just can't sit around and wait for it to happen."

--RHP Jose Valverde has two blown saves already this season, two more than he had all last year. "He's not quite as sharp as he was last year on a couple of pitches," manager Jim Leyland said. "And we're spoiled. I'm not worried about it." Leyland called on Valverde to preserve a 3-1 lead on Sunday and he did, although he did strand runners on first and second in recording his fifth save of the season. Valverde blew a save in Detroit's first game of the year and served up a two-run home run to DH Adam Dunn in the ninth inning Saturday that sent Detroit down to a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. "He saved 49 straight last year and you got spoiled," Leyland said. "He's been doing this a long time. He'll be all right." "Yesterday's over," Valverde said. "Last year is gone."

--DH Delmon Young returned to Detroit's starting lineup Saturday with a muted public reaction. The cheers drowned out a smattering of boos at Comerica Park in Young's first game since being suspended without pay for seven games for an early AM incident in New York that resulted in him being charged with aggravated assault. Young was the Tigers DH both Saturday and Sunday. He went 0-for-4 but the crowd reaction when he first came up, in the second inning, was about the same volume as for any other hitter. Young singled in the fifth to break an 0-for-12 streak that ran back three games before he sat out a week.

--1B Prince Fielder hit a long home run into the corner of the stands that juts into right center field, the ball landing just below George Kell's name on the wall. "I heard a couple of guys yell, 'Get out. Get out,'" manager Jim Leyland said. "But I knew right away it was out. It was low but I could tell it was going to cut through everything." He later added a single.

--RHP Brayan Villarreal was optioned to Class AAA Toledo after Sunday's game to make roster room for the activation of RHP Doug Fister, scheduled to start Monday night in Seattle. Villarreal pitched in one game for the Tigers after being recalled April 25, suffering a loss two days later when he gave up two walks in the ninth inning at New York and saw the winning run move up on a wild pitch, then score on a passed ball.

BY THE NUMBERS
6 -- Home runs in Detroit's first at-bat of a game by CF Austin Jackson, who lined the sixth of his career Sunday against the Chicago White Sox. Jackson had started games with home runs twice this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"I don't think you can be blase. To me there's a difference between panic and a sense of reality." -- Manager Jim Leyland, on making changes when his club isn't generating enough offense.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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