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MLB Team Report - Detroit Tigers - INSIDE PITCH
DETROIT -- Ian Kinsler likes what he sees of Detroit -- on the mound, on the field and in the clubhouse.
The Tigers improved to 12-2 in their recent hot streak, which followed a chilly 9-20 mark which followed a 27-12 start.
"The big thing with his club is our starting pitching," Kinsler said. "When you come to the park every day, knowing you have a good chance to win, that's a good feeling. The staff that we have, that makes it tough to win a series (off us).
"Tampa Bay comes in, first pitcher they have to face is Max (Scherzer). That makes it tough to win a series. Then you've got to face (Justin) Verlander and (Anibal) Sanchez. And Drew (Smyly) and Rick (Porcello)."
Kinsler, of course, has been a boon to Detroit whether he has hit first or second. His two-run home run Thursday was the first of three home runs the Tigers had in a five-run first inning.
Those kinds of innings were not happening -- and neither was the good starting pitching -- when Detroit was in its 9-20 skid.
"There's not much negative to be said about this club," Kinsler said. "There was no emotional overreaction during that streak. There were no tantrums, no throwing things, no breaking things.
"During that tough stretch there was no panic. Everybody kept their composure. We knew we would come out of it."
Kinsler knows it could swing back the other way.
"It's a funny thing about this game," he said. "It can switch on a dime."
Which is why it's important to keep level.
MLB Team Report - Detroit Tigers - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won one
NEXT: Rays (RHP Alex Cobb, 3-6, 4.20 ERA) at Tigers (LHP Drew Smyly, 4-7, 3.57 ERA)
--DH Victor Martinez did some pre-game bike work Thursday, took batting practice and was inserted into Detroit's starting lineup for the first time since Sunday. Martinez has been nursing a sore side. "Over the course of a season," manager Brad Ausmus said, "if Victor Martinez can play, I want him in the lineup." Martinez hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat back in the lineup, later adding a single. "I felt a lot better than I had the last two days," Martinez said. "I was just going out there trying to be a tough out."
--RHP Max Scherzer retired the last 13 batters he faced and 23 of his last 24 Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night. "I was able to stay in counts favorable to me," said Scherzer, now 10-3. He thought about asking for a shot at a complete game but that was decided for him by manager Brad Ausmus. "I wanted to," he said. "I knew I had an extra day of rest coming up. But when you look at the context of the game, he (manager Brad Ausmus) made the right decision. There was no reason to put added stress on my arm."
--LF J.D. Martinez was back in the lineup again Thursday. He would have batted fourth had DH Victor Martinez not returned to action for the first time in four days. As it was, J.D. Martinez hit fifth and played left field. He had two singles and two RBI as he continues to be productive batting in the heart of the order.
--CF Austin Jackson singled each of his first two times at bat Thursday and it seems manager Brad Ausmus might keep him there for a while. Ausmus sympathized with his center fielder during his two-month slump. "He expects better out of himself," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He takes pride in what he does." Jackson singled and scored on 2B Ian Kinsler's home run in the first.
--LF Rajai Davis was squeezed out of Detroit's starting lineup Thursday when DH Victor Martinez returned for the first time since Sunday. Manager Brad Ausmus said he would have played Davis in left and put LF J.D. Martinez in cleanup as the designated hitter had Victor Martinez not been able to go.
--LHP Ian Krol will join Class A West Michigan on Friday in Fort Wayne for what is scheduled to be a brief rehab stint. Krol, out since June 21 with left shoulder inflammation, could be activated on June 8. He will pitch an inning Friday night, play catch Saturday, then work another inning Sunday before returning to Detroit. "I threw Wednesday and it was my best bullpen yet," Krol said, "in terms of location, arm strength and offspeed pitches."
--2B Ian Kinsler has been a big factor in Detroit's recent surge, hitting either at leadoff or in the second spot in the batting order. "We seem to be turning our lineup over better right now," Kinsler said Thursday after hitting his 11th home run of the season, with a man on in the first.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I knew I had an extra day of rest coming up. But when you look at the context of the game, (manager Brad Ausmus) made the right decision. There was no reason to put added stress on my arm." -- Tigers RHP Max Scherzer on being pulled without completing an 8-1 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday.
MLB Team Report - Detroit Tigers - ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Joel Hanrahan (Tommy John surgery in May 2013) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2 after signing with the Tigers. He was throwing off the mound and playing long toss as of May 24. After a slight hamstring setback, he was only playing long toss from about 120 feet in mid-June.
--LHP Ian Krol (left shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 21. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and June 30. He will join Class A West Michigan on a rehab assignment July 4.
--RHP Luke Putkonen (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list on April 21, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 22. He began a rehab assignment with Class A West Michigan on May 7, and he moved his rehab to Triple-A Toledo on May 9. His rehab assignment was halted in mid-May, and he underwent surgery to shave down the bone in his right elbow on June 13. He is out until late July or early August.
--LF Andy Dirks (lower back surgery in March 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list March 29, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 21. He is expected to be out until late June or early July. Dirks said he has had problems with his lower back since high school, but it locked up on him early in spring training. He was cleared to resume light baseball activity May 2. He was throwing and taking dry swings as of May 10. He was throwing and taking dry swings as of May 24, and he was running again as of June 3. As of June 12, Dirks was hitting off a tee, doing soft-toss batting drills and running bases. He might be able to begin a rehab assignment in early July.
--RHP Bruce Rondon (Tommy John surgery in March 2014) went on the 60-day disabled list March 29. He is out for the season.
--SS Jose Iglesias (stress fractures in both shins) went on the 60-day disabled list March 29. He was declared out for the season by general manager Dave Dombrowski on June 4.
RHP Justin Verlander
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Rick Porcello
LHP Drew Smyly
RHP Anibal Sanchez
RHP Joe Nathan (closer)
RHP Joba Chamberlain
RHP Al Alburquerque
LHP Phil Coke
RHP Chad Smith
LHP Blaine Hardy
LHP Pat McCoy
1B Miguel Cabrera
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Nick Castellanos
DH Victor Martinez
INF Don Kelly
INF Andrew Romine
LF J.D. Martinez
CF Austin Jackson
RF Torii Hunter
OF Rajai Davis