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Verlander struggles with control in loss

The Sports Xchange
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--RHP Justin Verlander gave up three solo home runs Friday night but managed to keep from crumbling to last through his 59th straight six-inning start. Verlander gave up a run in the first while he was having problems throwing strikes with his curve and changeup and wasn't able to spot his low-velocity fastball. LF Desmond Jennings hit his fourth and fifth home runs of the season in consecutive at-bats while RF Ben Zobrist added his 10th. "Justin's control was not good," manager Jim Leyland said. "That's what did him in." "The old saying that solo home runs don't hurt you does not apply to a night when you give up three of them," Verlander said. "My curveball was too big; guys weren't swinging at it. The good thing was my changeup was better. It's been absent for the last couple months."

--DH Delmon Young is showing some signs of life as the lineup protector for cleanup man 1B Prince Fielder. Young laced a fastball from LHP David Price for a solo home run in the fifth inning Friday night after singling in the second inning. "I think he's starting to swing the bat pretty good," manager Jim Leyland said. "That would be a good tonic for us; another big bat behind Prince. That would be really good." Young has a home run and four RBI in his last five games while going 7-for-22. Teams aren't going to stop walking or pitching carefully to Fielder with runners in scoring position but Detroit needs some run-scoring hits from Young in those situations. He has seven RBI since June 19.

--C Gerald Laird drew the start Friday night against LHP David Price of Tampa Bay, his first in the last four games. Laird was part of manager Jim Leyland's effort to maximize his team's chances by loading his lineup with right-handed hitters against Price. Laird went hitless in three at-bats.

--2B Ramon Santiago returned to the lineup after a day off. Santiago replaced LF Quintin Berry, who remained in the lineup but batting ninth, in the second spot in the order and contributed a double with a run scored to the Tigers' attack. Santiago scored on consecutive groundouts after doubling down the first-base line to lead off the seventh. Santiago has been Detroit's de facto regular second baseman for more than a month and it would seem that will continue for the time being.

--RHP Octavio Dotel saved Detroit's bullpen with two innings in relief of RHP Justin Verlander. Manager Jim Leyland has been using some of his relievers for more than one inning due to a bullpen that seems to have at least one member unavailable each night -- because he'd pitched more than one inning. "I thought Dotel did a fantastic job after the guy got to third base with nobody out," Leyland said. Dotel gave up a double to the first batter he faced but stranded him and then retired all three he faced in the eighth.

--OF Andy Dirks learned from an examination Friday that he won't be getting out of his walking boot for another week. He's been on the disabled list since May 31 and for more than two weeks has been in the boot in an effort to speed the healing of his sore right Achilles tendon. "I certainly wouldn't look for him before the break," manager Jim Leyland said. "Obviously, I was very hopeful that he would be able to come out of the boot and be able to start initiating baseball activity," head trainer Kevin Rand said. "But he's just not ready for that yet, unfortunately. He still has some point tenderness (tender to the touch). So he'll remain in the boot another week. During that time receive some shock wave therapy." Dirks was hitting .328 and a return to that would give the Tigers an option to slumping RF Brennan Boesch. Dirks can't start baseball work until his tendon gets healthy.

BY THE NUMBERS
69 -- Home runs hit by Detroit so far this season, a stunningly low rate that would, should it continue, put the Tigers on path to hit fewer than the 119-loss club of 2003 did. Detroit hit 145 home runs in 2003.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Obviously, I was very hopeful that he would be able to come out of the boot and be able to start initiating baseball activity. But he's just not ready for that yet, unfortunately. He still has some point tenderness (tender to the touch). So he'll remain in the boot another week. During that time receive some shock wave therapy." -- Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand, on the results of an examination of OF Andy Dirks' right Achilles tendon. Dirks has been on the disabled list since May 31.

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

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