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Villarreal giving Tiger bullpen as assist

The Sports Xchange
Roster Report · Villarreal giving Tiger bullpen as assist · Notes, Quotes

So, only 60 pitchers in major league history have gotten an out without throwing a pitch and one of them, rookie Brayan Villarreal, has all of a half-dozen games of big league experience.

Villarreal picked a runner off first to complete the seventh inning Tuesday, before throwing a pitch to the batter he was brought in to face, then came back the next day to throw two scoreless innings.

He didn't get the victory, but holding Texas without a run in the seventh and eighth was a key in a game that was won by Detroit when Brandon Inge hit a walk-off home run with one out in the ninth.

It might have helped that Villarreal, who was driven from his fourth major league game when he had problems with left-handed hitters, only had to face one southpaw swinger among the seven Rangers he faced. That was Dave Murphy, who struck out on a 2-and-2 fastball with a man on first in the eighth.

Manager Jim Leyland kept Villarreal out of spring training despite the fact his only experience above Class A was the last half of last season, when he was in the rotation for Double-A Erie. He also pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League.

What clicked for Leyland in the spring was Villarreal's ability to throw strikes, get people out and pitch without fear.

His fastball runs up to 94 mph but his killer pitch is a slider, which he used in striking out Elvis Andrus with a 1-and-2 pitch.

With Joel Zumaya not able to make it out of spring training and Ryan Perry on the disabled list because of an eye problem, Villarreal has grabbed onto the seventh-inning slot for Detroit despite his relative inexperience.

Will it last? Leyland will keep handing him the ball until it doesn't.

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2014 Team Leaders
AVGVictor Martinez , DH.335
HRVictor Martinez , DH32
RBIMiguel Cabrera , 1B109
OBPVictor Martinez , DH.409
SLGVictor Martinez , DH.565
RMiguel Cabrera , 1B101
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