Inside Pitch: Zumaya's First Struggles

On Sunday, the Tigers completed a sweep of the Seattle Mariners. But it wasn't all good news, as youngster Joel Zumaya had his first rough outing of his young career. Plus, might it be time to give Chris Shelton a day off?

INSIDE PITCH
It might be a little risky to read anything into Joel Zumaya's poor performance in the eighth inning Sunday.

Zumaya entered with a 6-1 lead and exited with Detroit holding on to a 6-4 margin, the final score, as it turned out. He got two outs but gave up three runs on a pair of singles and two doubles.

Zumaya was his usual hard-throwing self, hitting 98 and 99 mph on the radar gun consistently and dropping his tough 12-to-6 curve in for strikes.

The Mariners were teeing off mainly on low fastballs. Location might have been as much of a cause for the three-run inning as anything.

Manager Jim Leyland gave Zumaya Saturday off after he came in and threw 31 pitches in a two-inning outing Friday night, not allowing a run.

There will be a bit of a learning curve as this is the rookie's first experience relieving and it's his first experience with Leyland.

REPLAY: Rookie right-hander Justin Verlander allowed one run over seven innings, and Craig Monroe belted a cushion-providing three-run home run in the eighth inning Sunday to power Detroit to a 6-4 victory over Seattle and a sweep of the three-game series.

Verlander didn't give up a hit until the fifth and left allowing just four in his seven innings. He struck out three in improving to 2-2.

Monroe's three-run shot gave Detroit a 6-1 lead, a margin that proved necessary when the Mariners scored three times against rookie Joel Zumaya in the bottom of the eighth. Fernando Rodney got the last out of the eighth, and Todd Jones worked a clean ninth to help the Tigers improve to 12-7.

The Tigers scored a pair of unearned runs in the first and added another in the fifth on singles by Vance Wilson, Curtis Granderson, a sacrifice by Placido Polanco and a groundout by Omar Infante.

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Justin Verlander turned in his second straight strong start Sunday, holding the Mariners hitless through four innings and allowing just four hits in seven innings.

Verlander was getting easy groundball outs and popups by offsetting his upper-90s fastball with a sharp-breaking curve.

He had just three strikeouts, in large part because he wasn't getting to two strikes on batters all that often.

--RHP Joel Zumaya experienced some difficulty Sunday in his first test in protecting a big lead.

Zumaya relieved RHP Justin Verlander at the beginning of the eighth Sunday with Detroit holding a 6-1 lead.

He gave up two singles and a couple of doubles good for three runs before being relieved by RHP Fernando Rodney, who got the last out of the inning on a strikeout.

Most of the hits off Zumaya came on low fastballs.

--1B Chris Shelton might be in line for a day off.

Shelton has played in all but one inning for Detroit this season, and he cooled off over the weekend, going 0-for-9 in Seattle.

Manager Jim Leyland has said he's toying with the idea of having C Ivan Rodriguez make his first start at a position other than catcher (and DH).

Shelton has played a lot mostly because Detroit has no other first baseman now that Dmitri Young is on the disabled list.

--RHP Todd Jones is 2-for-2 in saves since coming off the disabled list Friday.

Jones worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning Sunday, using mainly fastballs that tailed, to protect Detroit's 6-4 victory over Seattle.

Jones, on the disabled list since the beginning of the season with a bad hamstring muscle, made his first appearance the day he came off the disabled list and saved Saturday's victory despite giving up a run.

--LF Craig Monroe hasn't been getting a lot of hits, but he's swinging the bat better.

Monroe belted a critical three-run home run in the eighth inning Sunday to help the Tigers expand a 3-1 lead to 6-1, a margin that proved necessary when Seattle rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Monroe has not had a good road trip when it comes to hitting for average, but he's been making a lot of hard-luck outs and has been pulling the ball hard much of the time.

--C Vance Wilson was in the lineup Sunday to give C Ivan Rodriguez a complete day off. Rodriguez served as the designated hitter Friday.

Wilson had two hits Sunday in the Tigers' 6-4 victory.

Rodriguez has a sore foot but will start Monday night in Anaheim.

--SS Carlos Guillen was not in the field Sunday. He was, however, in the lineup, with manager Jim Leyland employing him as Detroit's designated hitter.

Guillen should return to shortstop in Anaheim on Monday night.

Playing short for the Tigers was INF Ramon Santiago, a former Mariner who has a Seattle-based fan club.

--3B Brandon Inge got a day off Sunday but will return to the lineup Monday in Anaheim.

Manager Jim Leyland wanted to accomplish the dual purposes of giving Inge a rest and getting INF Omar Infante back in the lineup. Infante had not played in exactly a week.

BY THE NUMBERS: .334 -- Opponents' batting average for the first 15 pitches RHP Jeremy Bonderman throws in a game over his 93 career starts.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We'd still at some point prefer to get (Tata) down there, but at this point, he's one of our 12 best pitchers. I don't know how it's going to play out, but right now, this is the move we decided to make." -- Detroit manager Jim Leyland on why the club decided not to send rookie RHP Jordan Tata to the minors when it activated RHP Todd Jones off the disabled list. It chose to option out RHP Chris Spurling instead.


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