DETROIT —- What a road trip but for Detroit Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland and for his team it is good to be home.
The recent road trip that included stops in Kansas City and Minneapolis with important games against Central Division foes the Royals and the Twins some questions started to surface again about the bullpen, the relief pitchers and the job of being the closer for the Tigers.
The Tigers used a good performance on the mound by Doug Fister and defeated the Minnesota Twins, 5-2, Sunday afternoon at Target Field.
From the outside looking in, it appears that the Twins are spinning out of control and changes seem to be coming in the Twins dugout. The only constant is that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will be at the end of the bench.
There were wins for the Tigers but there were also loses, blown save situations by closer Jose Valverde especially in Kansas City but with that being said the Tigers come back home to Comerica Park after splitting the six games on the road.
Leyland faced with a situation against the Twins late Sunday afternoon did not call for Valverde to close the game, instead Leyland called and summoned Joaquin Benoit from the bullpen.
“I am going to do whatever I think it takes for the Tigers to win the game,” Leyland said about his decision to bring Benoit into the game against the Twins. “Today I felt like my best option Benoit. That doesn’t mean that Papa Grande isn’t going to close games. That doesn’t mean Benoit is the closer.”
History also happened Sunday afternoon in the first inning, that is when Tigers’ right fielder Torii Hunter finally hit his 300th career home run. He hit a long fly ball that got over left field fence and found the seats. He hit the historic home run off of Twins starting pitcher P.J. Walters.
After the game Hunter sat back in his chair and told the story of his first home run of his career.
“I hit my first home run with the Twins against the Tigers at Tiger Stadium in 1999,” Hunter said after the game with a smile.
Tigers’ starting pitcher Doug Fister outing against the Twins Sunday afternoon might have been his best outing of the season.
Finally, Fister received some offense support, the five runs scored by the Tigers against Twins is the most for Fister in five games.
Fister worked 7 2/3 of an inning striking out seven, walking two and giving up just two hits. His command of his breaking pitch worked in harmony with his fastball.
The Tigers will open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park starting Monday, June 17, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Leyland is expecting to be missing from the lineup card will be catcher Alex Avila because in the ninth inning, Avila had to leave the game after he was hit by a pitch on the left forearm by Twins relief pitcher Brain Duensing a fastball that made Avila fall on his knees in pain..
“I had some kind of scan here and it came back negative,” Avila said. “I’ll get x-ray tomorrow (Monday).”
Starting the series against the Orioles, Leyland will be giving the ball to right hander Max Scherzer.
Scherzer will be trying to extend his record from 9-0 to10-0 this season.
After the three-game series against the Orioles that concludes Wednesday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox will come in Thursday night and stay for the weekend-a four-game series.
There will be some basic questions answered this week by the Tigers but the bullpen situation is an area that keeps the over night light on inside the office and on the paper littered desk of the Detroit Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski burning.
What to do about the bullpen and Valverde?
The Tigers will be looking to enjoy the home stand this week with some good old fashion wins.
There is no place like home!
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.