May 22nd, 2011

Benoit back in setup role

Joaquin Benoit’s respite from the Tigers’ eighth-inning setup role lasted less than a week. It isn’t necessarily a matter of the Tigers feeling confident he’s completely back so much as the recent performances from the rest of the bullpen.

“I’d have liked to go a little bit longer [working him along],” manager Jim Leyland said, “but with some of the kids struggling, I’ve just got to hope he gets the job done.”

Benoit’s last eighth-inning appearance came last Monday against Toronto, when he entered in a tie game and gave up three runs. He has made one appearance since, albeit an encouraging one with a two-strikeout perfect inning Friday night.

After that game, he sounded cautiously encouraged, but also patient.

“I’m just going in there and trying to hit the spots, not thinking about what’s happened already,” Benoit said Friday night. “Whatever happened is in the past, try to move forward.”

The past four games have been an outright struggle for the Tigers bullpen to find some order without the late innings set. Both losses at Boston came as a result of runs in the eighth inning or later, and the losses here Friday and Saturday came largely from sixth- and seventh-inning runs.

Add it up, and Detroit relievers have given up 13 runs over the course of their five-game losing streak, more than Tigers hitters have scored in that same stretch.

Sunday: Tigers at Pirates

Jim Leyland loaded up his lineup with right-handed hitters today against Pirates lefty Paul Maholm. Thus, Brennan Boesch and Andy Dirks are out, and Ryan Raburn and Casper Wells are in. Victor Martinez gets his second start of the series.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Scott Sizemore, 2B
  3. Ryan Raburn, LF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, C
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Brandon Inge, 3B
  8. Casper Wells, RF
  9. Rick Porcello, P
PIRATES
  1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  2. Jose Tabata, LF
  3. Garrett Jones, RF
  4. Neil Walker, 2B
  5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
  6. Steve Pearce, 3B
  7. Chris Snyder, C
  8. Ronny Cedeno, SS
  9. Paul Maholm, P
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