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Dirks has rough day, but keeps streak going

The Sports Xchange
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--LF Andy Dirks ran his hitting streak to eight games Sunday with a single to center in the first inning. While Dirks has prospered since moving into the second spot in the batting order, a wart has appeared. Twice against Oakland he came up with a runner on third and less than two outs, striking out both times. He also popped out with the bases loaded and two outs, in the second.

--RHP Justin Verlander, facing an Oakland lineup featuring five players with sub-.200 batting averages, retired the first 11 batters he faced Sunday before giving up a bloop single to center and allowed just two hits in his seven innings. "Verlander was good," manager Jim Leyland said. "He had a callous on the right side of the thumb and that's why we took him out after seven innings. It broke open and started bleeding a little bit so that's why we got him out of there. I don't think it's much of (a concern). You can do miracles with that kind of stuff today." Verlander struck out eight and walked one in his 104-pitch outing. The run he allowed was a solo home run on a 2-0 fastball down the middle to LF Seth Smith. "It's kind of been happening for me a little bit all season long," Verlander said of his thumb. "I looked down there towards the end of the seventh and it was bleeding. Obviously I wanted to go back out. The risk-reward ... having gone seven, we've got Joaqie (Joaquin Benoit) and (Jose) Valverde lined up to go, so there's no point in going out there and risk something serious happening. Maybe if it was the World Series I'd be going out there."

--1B Prince Fielder went hitless in Oakland following a 4-for-10 series in Seattle. Fielder is hitless in his last 22 at-bats overall, the last 18 coming against the Athletics. He's seen a lot of outside breaking balls, which only began to affect him in Oakland. It's gotten him off balance to where now he's also not hitting inside fastballs.

--RF Brennan Boesch has seemingly relaxed and started to hit again after being dropped out of the second spot in the batting order. Boesch had a single plus a double in four at-bats Sunday and hit safely on all seven of Detroit's games in Seattle and Oakland. He has two hits in each of his last two games. He pulled a curve for a single in the second inning and doubled to center on a fastball.

--CF Austin Jackson got a tie-breaking RBI walk in the sixth inning Sunday to give Detroit a little breathing room in its 3-1 win Sunday at Oakland. Jackson took a 3-2 pitch that was off the plate with the bases loaded and one out to conclude an eight-pitch at-bat. "I battled there," Jackson said, "fouled 'em off and wound up getting a walk." Jackson had three walks in the game and has hits in nine of his last 12 games.

--1B Miguel Cabrera singled home two of Detroit's three runs Sunday. He got a two-out single that scored CF Austin Jackson (single, steal, third on wild pitch) in a situation where some managers would have walked him intentionally to face the slumping 1B Prince Fielder. Cabrera's RBI single that gave Detroit a two-run lead in the ninth only happened because PH Danny Worth bunted into a force at third, leaving runners at first and second with one out. Cabrera grounded a 0-1 breaking ball to left to score Jackson again. He had nine hits in four games at Oakland after none in three games at Seattle.

--RHP Jose Valverde converted a rare -- for him -- three-batter save Sunday to preserve RHP Justin Verlander's fourth victory. Valverde saved 13 of Verlander's wins last year. He has seven saves and two blown saves this year.

--2B/LF Ryan Raburn sat out Saturday's game with a stiff back, but a batting average plunging to .128 might have been a factor, too. Manager Jim Leyland sent Raburn back out to second base for Sunday's game, hitting him ninth in the order, and he got his fourth hit in the last two weeks. Raburn, who had started every game since May 1, is 4-for-32 after belting a double off the center field wall in his last at-bat Sunday. Leyland keeps trying to plump Raburn's confidence in hopes his traditional hot second half will start early. "It was nice to see Raburn's last at-bat," Leyland said. "He smoked one off the wall."

BY THE NUMBERS
13 -- Consecutive road victories by RHP Justin Verlander after beating the Athletics, 3-1, on Sunday in Oakland. It's the longest road winning streak by a Detroit pitcher since RHP Denny McLain reeled off 16 straight in 1968.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"What more can he do? He's been great. I don't know what the guys across the way were thinking when they let him go." -- Oakland OF Josh Reddick after teammate 3B Brandon Inge had driven in four runs in each of two games against Detroit, which had let its long-time infielder go in late April. Inge had a grand slam in one game, then a three-run home run plus an RBI single in the next.

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

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