Inside Pitch: Fister Fitting in Nicely

While the Tigers summer deadline deals haven't always worked out well in the past, the early returns on acquiring Doug Fister have been incredibly encouraging.

Fister fitting in nicely in Detroit

"You never know," Jim Leyland said, "how these things are going to work out."

The subject was those July and August acquisitions teams make in an effort to get first to the finish line in September.

One of those, Doug Fister, improved to 4-0 in his last five starts with seven innings of three-hit ball in Detroit's 2-1 victory over Minnesota. Fister, acquired from Seattle, has a 0.74 ERA in those five starts.

Two runs of support were about all he was getting from Seattle, but Detroit gave him the two runs in the first inning and Fister made them stand up and snag line drives.

"He's been a nice fit for us," Leyland said, "a really nice acquisition."

Wilson Betemit and Delmon Young have fit in nice too, and David Pauley has had his moments.

"But you never know," Leyland said. "We got Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff (in 2009) and that didn't work out.

"You never know until they get here. Huff played a key part for San Francisco last year. Washburn didn't work out because of the knee."

Young has been driving in runs with big hits for Detroit, while Betemit, playing mostly against right-handers, has been a productive player.

Fister has gone from being a guy brought in to replace the No. 5 starter to a pitcher who will be second or third in Detroit's postseason rotation, if the Tigers qualify.


--RHP Doug Fister changed it up a little bit with a similar result -- seven strong innings. Fister didn't allow a run and only three hits in his time on the mound. He used his curve a lot with two strikes in his last start and got 13 strikeouts. This outing, Fister struck out five, but all on fastballs. "He's been a nice fit for us," manager Jim Leyland said, "a really nice acquisition." "I'm just trying to get quick contact, use my defense," Fister said. "I was a little erratic with getting the ball up, but I was able to get away with some stuff." "He did a good job of taking advantage of younger batters," Leyland said. "They'll figure it out."

--RHP Jose Valverde set a club record for saves with his 43rd without a muff. Valverde did give up a run on a groundout to first with runners at first and third and one out in the ninth, but ended the game with a strikeout on a 1-2 split-finger fastball. "It's good for my family, good for my friends," Valverde said, "but what I want is to go to the World Series, have a big celebration and to be the champion." He and RHP Todd Jones (2000) had been tied at 42 saves entering Detroit's 2-1 win over Minnesota. "When you break a record," manager Jim Leyland said, "and it's your 43rd straight (save), that's pretty impressive."

--LF Delmon Young keeps rolling in runs for Detroit. Young blooped an RBI single to right-center in the first inning, when Detroit corralled both of its runs in a 2-1 victory over Minnesota. Young added a second single his next time up. He has 49 RBI in his last 80 games combined with the Twins and Tigers.

--DH Victor Martinez hit into four double plays, including one in the first inning with the bases loaded and nobody out, so it brought in what turned out to be the winning run in Detroit's 2-1 victory over Minnesota. He grounded into double plays started by the second and third basemen plus the shortstop before lining into a double play at first. Even Martinez was smiling when his liner to right at 1B Chris Parmelee turned into a twin-killing when the first baseman tagged the base to get 1B Miguel Cabrera, who had singled.

--C Omir Santos caught RHP Doug Fister and his successors, giving C Alex Avila a second day off from catching this month. Santos singled in the second, and in the fourth, his hit-and-run groundout to first advanced two runners. "He's not an out," manager Jim Leyland said. "He can get a hit. He hit .250 one year with the New York Mets, so he's not an out. And Alex gets a blow. And I can keep Victor DH'ing."

--3B Brandon Inge hit his third home run of the season Saturday to give Detroit a 3-2 walk-off win over Minnesota. Each of Inge's three home runs this season has had some drama attached to it. Inge's April 13 home run gave Detroit a walk-off win over Texas. His second came when he was recalled from the minors Aug. 20, a home run in his first at-bat. "I was just looking for a pitch up in the zone. Since I've come back from Toledo, the way I swing may look weird, but I'm trying to swing hard," Inge said. "Earlier in the year, I was trying to feel from the ball and I hit it to right field. I like to drive the ball and I think I get the best results there. Fortunately, it was up enough where I could hit it beyond the fence."

--CF Austin Jackson got a base hit because of the threat of a bunt. Something Jackson has improved upon this season is his ability to bunt for a base hit and now that he's seen what it can do, he should get better in that department next season. What the threat of a bunt does is cause the third baseman to come in a few steps on the grass, which Jackson can use to drive the ball past him for more singles. Jackson squared around on the second pitch he saw from LHP Scott Diamond, but drew back for ball one. With the third baseman moving in, Jackson ripped a hot shot that scooted off 3B Luke Hughes' glove and into foul territory, which turned into a base hit. Jackson scored Detroit's first run on two straight singles.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Double plays hit into by DH Victor Martinez, three grounders and a line drive. Each of his ground-ball double plays was started by a different infielder (2B, 3B, SS) and he lined out to first with 1B Miguel Cabrera, who had singled, far enough off the bag to be doubled off.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought one of the big series of the year so far for me was the series in Tampa (Aug. 22-25). We won three out of four and that's hard to do. That was a huge series for us. We were pretty good, but we were possibly going into a hornet's nest there because they were pretty stingy with runs. It gave the whole club a lot of confidence." -- Manager Jim Leyland, on where his team's self-confidence began to build.

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