Detroit Tigers - PlayerWatch
C Alex Avila felt light-headed Sunday and had to come out of the game in the eighth inning. Avila dealt with a concussion issue a couple weeks ago that caused him to miss a few games. He'll probably be a game-time decision to start Monday in Minnesota.
LF J.D. Martinez continues to provide Detroit with timely power. He hit his second home run of the series and 22nd of the season in the fourth inning Sunday to give the Tigers a brief 1-0 lead. His RBI single to left center in the sixth shaved Detroit's deficit to 3-2. "It's Septober, like Torii said Saturday," Martinez said. "I've never experienced this before. It's a blast. Every day is exciting. Every win seems to mean so much more."
Torii Hunter started in right field Sunday, a day game following a night contest. Hunter has gotten the day off quite a few times this season when day games followed night games, in deference to his age. But it's the stretch run now, so manager Brad Ausmus wants his regulars in the lineup as often as possible now. "I hope the days off early in the season pay off late in the season," Ausmus said. Hunter had two singles, one off a surprise bunt.
RHP Joe Nathan allowed a run in the ninth Sunday but finished off the inning to earn his 32nd save. Nathan has six blown saves, but just one in 18 chances since June 25. He's discounting the notion Detroit got hot when the calendar turned to September. "I think it's a matter of we see the finish line and that's given us a burst of energy," he said.
RHP Justin Verlander struggled through 5 2/3 innings Sunday, a lot due to the fact he had at least one baserunner against him in every inning he worked. "I would have liked to have gone deeper into the game," Verlander said. Manager Brad Ausmus took him out in the sixth, after he allowed a two-out single that was his second hit of the inning. Verlander reported afterward the blister that bothered him two starts ago was worse. "I'll be pitching in five days," he said.
2B Ian Kinsler made it two game-winning two-run home runs in two games Sunday for Detroit. Kinsler's two-run blast to left center in the seventh brought the Tigers from a 3-2 deficit into a lead they never gave up. Two more runs in the eighth provided the margin of the 6-4 victory. "It was a fastball and I hit it good," Kinsler said. "I knew it was going to be close, but you never know in that part of the park here. When I hit it, I thought, 'At least I got the runner over (to third). His 14th home run was his third since July 3.
LHP Phil Coke was available to pitch Sunday after getting treatment on his back for an injury suffered Wednesday trying to field a bunt -- and he did. "He's good to go now," manager Brad Ausmus said. Coke was called on to work the seventh and he pitched a scoreless inning, getting rewarded when Detroit rallied for two runs to take a 4-3 lead. Coke was the winning pitcher, improving to 5-2.