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Dirks keeps finding ways to keep himself in the field

The Sports Xchange
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--LF/CF Andy Dirks keeps doing good things to keep himself on the field. Dirks, hitting second in the absence of CF Austin Jackson, led off the fifth inning Thursday with a home run, his fourth, and walked in an attempt to start a rally in the eighth. Manager Jim Leyland switched him to center when he pinch-hit for CF Don Kelly after Minnesota brought in LHP Francisco Liriano in the seventh.

--CF Austin Jackson took treatment Thursday on a sore side that kept him out of the game. He came out of Wednesday night's game after suffering the strain while hitting. Detroit lists him day-to-day, but he's not likely to play Friday and may be out of action until Tuesday. The Tigers are off Monday.

--1B Prince Fielder gave a run away and then took it back. Fielder made an error on a throw from RHP Doug Fister, the ball sailing by him and allowing LF Josh Willingham to go all the way to third in the fifth inning. Willingham scored on a groundout to second. Fielder retaliated in the sixth Thursday with the second of two solo home runs by Detroit that drew the Tigers to within 4-3, the final score.

--RF Brennan Boesch has a 10-game hitting streak after lining a home run to right field leading off the fifth inning on Thursday. Boesch has done his work since being dropped to the bottom third of the batting order, collecting 12 hits in his streak.

--RHP Doug Fister was all around the strike zone Thursday. but struggled through it except for giving up two home runs good for three third-inning runs. Fister could manage only six innings because he threw 109 pitches, allowed nine hits and two walks. But the big damage was allowing a two-run home run to DH Justin Morneau after a two-out walk in the third, followed by a fat fastball Trevor Plouffe hit for his second home run in two games. Fister allowed an unearned run in the fifth. "He was out of whack early on," manager Jim Leyland said. "He got better as he went along. It looked like he was pulling his cutter early."

--RHP Brayan Villarreal is making a bid to make his third stay with Detroit his last. Villarreal was called up from Class AAA Toledo on Thursday and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a hit in the eighth and a walk in the ninth. He has not allowed an earned run in five games with the Tigers this season and getting reliable bullpen outings has been a problem for Detroit. He was getting his fastball up to 98 mph and using a nice slider as an offsetting pitch.

--2B Ramon Santiago was Detroit's only non-catching reserve Thursday and manager Jim Leyland left his bench bare when he used him as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. With INF Danny Worth optioned out to make room for an extra pitcher and CF Austin Jackson out because of a side injury, the Tigers' bench consisted of backup C Gerald Laird and Santiago. Leyland hit Santiago for CF Don Kelly when Minnesota brought in LHP Francisco Liriano. Santiago grounded into an inning-ending double play. He stayed in to play second.

--RHP Jose Valverde remained out of action Thursday for the second straight game because of to a lower back strain. Valverde is listed day-to-day but might not pitch until Saturday or Sunday.

--RHP Luis Marte made his first rehab appearance Thursday for Class A Lakeland, pitching two shutout innings. He allowed one hit and no walks while striking out three. Marte has been on the disabled all season due to a left hamstring strain.

BY THE NUMBERS
9 -- Teams for which RHP Octavio Dotel has recorded a save during his career. His May 15 save for Detroit tied him with Goose Gossage as having saves for the most different Major League teams.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"I'm a little surprised to say the least. But I don't look up all of a sudden and say, 'We're not a good team.' I love this team. It's going to come out of it." -- Manager Jim Leyland, admitting it's puzzling why a team he sees as talented is only 18-20.

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

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