SEATTLE (AP) -- Strong bullpen management is yet another of Jim
Leyland's strengths that have helped the Detroit Tigers to the best
record in baseball.
Leyland exploited matchups and managed outs for five relievers
over the final four innings Saturday night as rookie Zach Miner
earned his sixth straight victory, 2-1 over the sinking Seattle
In addition to all the credit Tigers starters have earned for
going 18-1 with a 2.80 ERA since June 8, Detroit's relievers are
thankful to have Leyland in the dugout.
"He's pretty unique. He runs the bullpen the best I've ever
been around," said 13th-year veteran closer Todd Jones, the final
in the parade of relievers who earned his 23rd save.
"He does a good job protecting guys, making sure they don't
pitch three or four days in a row, playing matchups well. And he
builds guys' confidence well. Then once their confidence is up,
they go succeed."
Detroit is now a major league-leading 59-28, tied with the 1911
and '84 Tigers for the franchise's best record after 87 games. The
'84 team won a team-record 104 games and then the World Series. The
Tigers have a three-game lead over the Chicago White Sox in the AL
Central, assuring Detroit will be in first place at the All-Star
break for the first time since 1988.
Jamie Walker, Jason Grilli, Wilfredo Ledezma, Francisco Rodney
and Jones all protected the one-run lead for Miner (6-1) and
sending Seattle to its sixth straight loss -- matching its longest
home losing streak since 2000. The relievers allowed three singles
combined, walked none and struck out three.
Rodney relieved Ledezma with two on in the seventh. His wild
pitch moved both runners up. However, Adrian Beltre chased the
next, low pitch for an inning-ending strikeout.
The only relievers Leyland didn't use were Roman Colon and Joel
Zumaya, the latter whom the manager had used to end Friday's win
and wanted to avoid using again.
"Why not? I've got confidence in all of them," Leyland said.
"If I didn't, they shouldn't be here. I told them from the get-go:
Everyone I had was going to be used in big situations."
Seattle's Jarrod Washburn (4-9) allowed seven hits and one
earned run in six innings, walking two and striking out three.
Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt's error led to Carlos Guillen's RBI
and the decisive, unearned run in the third inning.
Miner allowed three hits in five innings for his sixth
consecutive win, tying Minnesota's Francisco Liriano and the Los
Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver for the longest winning streak by an
AL rookie this season.
Miner's only damaging mistake was when Raul Ibanez hit his
second pitch of the second inning just over the right-field wall
for his 20th home run. Ibanez had 20 in 162 games last season.
When asked if he could have imagined such a debut after his May
31 call-up from Triple-A Toledo, Miner said, "Not really. It
doesn't seem like I've been up here that long. It seems like I got
called up the other day, I'm so focused on my next start."
Miner struggled with his control -- only 47 of his first 82
pitches were strikes -- but he walked only three. He struck out a
He blamed his wildness on mechanical flaws, but was glad he had
Leyland's lead-savers behind him.
"Those guys were awesome," he said.
Seattle manager Mike Hargrove exemplified his team's frustration
at falling from a season-high two games over .500 last week. He
went nose-to-nose and traded profanities with home plate umpire Ted
Barrett after Ibanez argued he did not swing as Barrett had ruled
for a sixth-inning strikeout.
Barrett ejected Hargrove, who was then restrained by crew chief
Rick Reed before he spun his cap on the field from the dugout
It was the third time Hargrove was on the field challenging
calls in the game.
Ichiro Suzuki also had a run-in with Barrett, in the fifth. The
All-Star claimed he had fouled a pitch that skipped in front of
home plate. Barrett ruled Suzuki swung over the pitch for strike
three, and television replays appeared to support the ruling.
"If I had missed the ball, I would have run to first base,"
Suzuki said. "For him to say what he did, he's saying I'm lying
... I consider myself a player who plays honestly."
Seattle has scored two runs in its last 28 innings. ... The
Tigers are 33-14 on the road. They were 32-49 on the road last
season. ... Suzuki's first start this season at DH put Carl Everett
in RF for the first time since last Aug. 28, when he was with the
White Sox. Everett ran far to the foul line to catch Craig Monroe's
pop fly with two Tigers on to end the top of the fifth. ... After
the game, the Mariners designated seldom-used pinch-hitter Roberto
Petagine for assignment and promoted C Luis Oliveros from Double-A
San Antonio. They needed another catcher Sunday because Kenji
Johjima was allowed to leave for Japan a day early to visit his
wife and infant son, born June 30, during the All-Star break.