July 4th, 2009

About that Tiger bullpen today

Jim Leyland has a few more relievers available than you might think. He’ll rest Freddy Dolsi for the rest of the series, and he wouldn’t mind doing the same with Joel Zumaya, but everyone else is available. There was a big box of Cap’n Crunch in the pregame food spread just to make sure.

The one lineup decision made in light of last night’s marathon was at catcher, where Dusty Ryan will get the start. The Tigers will rest Gerald Laird, while Joe Mauer is the DH for the Twins. Both caught all 16 innings last night. In Laird’s case, he’s the first Tiger to catch that many innings in a game since Brandon Inge caught a 16-inning game and a 17-inning marathon in 2003.

Denard Span, meanwhile, is again in the Twins lineup, and Leyland is running out of ideas for how to pitch to him.

“We’ve tried everything,” Leyland said. “We just haven’t been able to get the guy out. Hopefully tomorrow’s another day. He hits .350 off left-handers, and he hits our right-handers, too. We just haven’t been able to get the guy out for whatever reason.

“I don’t know. I’m thinking about throwing [him] the blooper pitch. I’m dead serious, too. I’m not kidding you. I’m thinking about trying to get in his head a little bit and have a guy throw a blooper ball. We did it with Sheffield one time. I’m seriously thinking about it. Throw the old blooper ball, let him wind up, trying to hit it out of the park, maybe get him out of sync for a little bit. Because he kills us. We just don’t get him out.”

TIGERS

  1. Granderson, CF
  2. Polanco, 2B
  3. Cabrera, 1B
  4. Thames, DH
  5. Raburn, LF
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Ordonez, RF
  8. Ryan, C
  9. Everett, SS

P: Edwin Jackson

TWINS

  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Brendan Harris, SS
  3. Joe Mauer, DH
  4. Justin Morneau, 1B
  5. Jason Kubel, LF
  6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
  7. Brian Buscher, 3B
  8. Jose Morales, C
  9. Nick Punto, 2B

P: Francisco Liriano

Leyland on French, Miner

The Tigers’ first pitching change of the night seemed almost like a previous night’s game by the time the Tigers rallied ahead for good in the 16th inning Friday night/Saturday morning, but the move from starter Luke French to Zach Miner ended up playing a big role in this game. French, while walking two hitters and working deep into counts on others, managed to keep his outing from far worse with timely outs. Miner, after retiring Michael Cuddyer to strand two runners in the fifth, allowed five of six batters to reach base safely in the sixth, capped by back-to-back triples that drove in three runs and set up the game-tying sacrifice fly.

The rest is a long bit of history.

“Everybody’s got to make their contributions tonight,” Leyland said. “Because Zach had a bad night, it cost us a lot. That’s just the way it is. That can’t happen. You’ve got a 7-2 lead. You’ve got to go in there and get us three outs. That’s just the way it is. I’m not upset with Zach; I’m just making a point. That’s why I talk about every pitcher making a contribution. …

“This game should’ve never gotten to this point. You’ve got to come in and stop it right now. It’s 7-2, You’ve got a free run, nobody on base. He just didn’t get it done. He was up with everything and he had a bad night. But he’s been doing a great job, too. I want to make that clear.”

On French, Leyland suggested the rookie left-hander’s 10-day layoff left him rusty.

“I think a lot of that was from the layoff,” Leyland said. “So he did fine. He actually came out of it doing fine.”

As for Saturday’s bullpen, Leyland said everyone should be available but Zumaya, whom he said he’s going to rest at least Saturday and possibly Sunday after 50-plus pitches.

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