Smyly gets first win since May 25

The Sports Xchange
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--LHP Drew Smyly got his first win since May 25 on Sunday, retiring 12 straight batters at one point before a two-run wobble in the fifth. "I definitely think it's a step forward," the second-year pro said. "After the leadoff walk I was doing pretty good all the way up to the fifth. That 3-2 curveball to (CF Desmond) Jennings was a really big pitch for me, for the game and just me personally." Smyly buried a 3-2 curve to Jennings, who took the strike to end the two-run fifth. "Smyly did well enough," manager Jim Leyland said. "He kept us in the game for a few innings and of course the bullpen did a terrific job."

--RHP Brayan Villarreal struck out the only three batters he faced Sunday in bridging the game from the starter to the back end of Detroit's bullpen. Villarreal had his 97-98 mph fastball on display but his 'out' pitch was the slider that has made him a prominent factor in manager Jim Leyland's bullpen. "I'm gonna be careful with Villarreal," Leyland said. "I really don't want to pitch him much more than one inning if I can help it. The last couple times we pitched him a little bit more than that, and he was a little bit tired and needed a couple extra days off. I won't say definite, but he'll probably pretty much be a one-inning guy if we can help it."

--CF Austin Jackson hit a three-run home run Saturday night that broke open a close game, and he came back Sunday with a key RBI single in the sixth inning. His eighth home run gave Detroit a 4-0 lead in the eighth Saturday in a game it won 6-2. The score was tied 3-3 Sunday when Jackson batted with one out and a man on third in the sixth. His ground single through a drawn-in infield put the Tigers ahead of Tampa Bay and he scored an insurance run later in the inning on a single to left by 1B Prince Fielder.

--3B Miguel Cabrera was already the sixth player in team history to reach 100 hits, 15 home runs and 60 RBI when he did it in 2010, but he became the first Detroit player to accomplish the feat twice Sunday with a sharp single in the fifth inning. Earlier in the day, Cabrera was named as a reserve to the AL All-Star team, the seventh time he has been an All-Star and third time with Detroit.

--1B Prince Fielder was one of three Detroit players named to the AL All-Star team but the only starter. Fielder honored the selection Sunday with a pair of singles, one driving in the Tigers' last run in a 5-3 victory at Tampa Bay. Fielder hopes to participate in the Home Run contest. He previously made the All-Star team with Milwaukee in the National League.

--C Alex Avila has perked up at the plate since the news Monday there was nothing more seriously wrong with his left knee than the patella tendinitis that plagued him last year. Avila has gone 7-for-20 since then with three RBI. He did an excellent job of guiding rookie LHP Drew Smyly through five innings in which he retired 12 straight after a leadoff walk. "He had to kind of correct from his last start in being able to locate his pitches a little better," Avila said. Avila had two singles and a sacrifice fly Sunday in Detroit's 5-3 win over Tampa Bay.

--DH Delmon Young is slowly starting to show signs he might be able to provide some protection for cleanup hitter 1B Prince Fielder. Young got a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and nobody out after Fielder was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. Young, who had a ninth-inning single, drove in five runs during the week.

--RHP Justin Verlander is being re-slotted in the Detroit rotation; he won't start the first game after the All-Star break so he can face both the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox later in the month. Detroit trails both in the AL Central. Manager Jim Leyland has penciled Verlander in for the third game following the break because pitching him in either of the first two would have meant his ace could face one or the other -- but not both. With Verlander making his final start before the break on Wednesday against Minnesota, he will have 10 days between starts, although it's likely he'll pitch an inning or two in the All-Star Game. Verlander was named to the All-Star team Sunday and it's the third straight year he and 3B Miguel Cabrera has represented the Tigers. RHP Doug Fister will start the first game after the break with RHP Max Scherzer working the second. Last year Leyland had Verlander pitch the last game before the break and the first one after.

BY THE NUMBERS
6 -- Tigers who have accumulated 100 hits, 15 home runs and 60 RBI prior to the All-Star break in the history of Detroit baseball. 3B Miguel Cabrera did it for the second time Sunday (2010, 2012) and the others are 1B/LF Hank Greenberg (1935), RF Al Kaline (1955), 1B Norm Cash (1961), LF Willie Horton (1970) and RF Magglio Ordonez (2006).

QUOTE TO NOTE
"To close it out with three out of four here is pretty tough to do. In fairness to them, we caught them without a couple of their big run producers, (3B Evan) Longoria and (OF Matt) Joyce, which was obviously a break for us." -- Manager Jim Leyland after Detroit defeated Tampa Bay 5-3 on Sunday to win three of the series' four games.

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

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