Rightly or wrongly, Jim Leyland has received a good deal of criticism for his use of his bullpen lately. Tonight, he deserves some credit for pushing the right buttons in the seventh inning. With the Tigers down 5-4 and Clete Thomas on third and one out, Leyland sent up the struggling Jeff Larish to pinch hit for Nate Robertson. The rookie responded by driving a single through the drawn in infield to tie the game at five.
Then, the manager had Marcus Thames pinch hit for lead off hitter Curtis Granderson. Granderson went 2 for 3 versus starter Cha Seung Baek but when left-handed pitcher Justin Hampson entered the game, Leyland went with the right-handed hitter. The raging River Thames blasted a two run homer to right center to put the Tigers in front 7-5. That would be the final score.
Nate Robertson pitched six innings allowing five runs on seven hits but one of the hits was really a misplay by Miguel Cabrera which led to two runs. Cabrera strayed too far from the bag on a routine grounder to Placido Polanco and what would have been the third out ofthe fifth inning turned into an infield hit for Jody Gerut. Edgar Gonzalez then followed with a two run double to give the Padres a 5-4 lead.
Zach Miner, Bobby Seay, Freddy Dolsi and Todd Jones then combined for three shutout innings to secure the victory. Dolsi actually allowed a hit to the only batter he faced but Magglio Ordonez bailed him out with an excellent throw nabbing Khalil Greene at the plate.
The win left the Tigers six games behind the White Sox who lost a second straight game to the Cubs today 11-7. The rubber game of the Tigers-Padres series will be at 4:05 tomorrow with Justin Verlander opposing Randy Wolf.