DETROIT - The Tigers traded away five young arms after last season to acquire the big bats of Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria.
Cabrera and Renteria both contributed to Detroit's last two wins over Cleveland, including yesterday's 5-2 triumph, but it was two budding right-handers the Tigers either traded for or held onto who stood tallest in their latest victory.
It started with Armando Galarraga, 26, who earned his Tigers-best fifth win in what is becoming his first full big-league season. But Galarraga might not have been the pitcher of record if not for reliever Freddy Dolsi, 25, who is seeing his first major league action.
Dolsi inherited a bases-loaded mess from fellow reliever Zach Miner in the eighth inning, and struck out Jhonny Peralta and Ben Francisco to preserve Detroit's three-run lead.
Dolsi, promoted to the Tigers on May 4 from Double-A Erie, had never pitched above Single-A before this season. He's quickly earning his way into manager Jim Leyland's good graces.
"Our [minor league] people recommended him, and I was a little shocked," Leyland said. "It looks to me at this point like somebody knew what they were doing."
Dolsi has a 2.13 ERA in 11 games with the Tigers. Leyland said yesterday that Dolsi was "still a little crude" - meaning his pitching skills are unrefined - and also said he has a chance to be a "back-end pitcher."While Dolsi is a product of the Tigers' development program, Galarraga was acquired from Texas without fanfare in a February trade. He won both of his starts with Toledo and has been Detroit's best starter since he was called up on April 16.
Pulled from the rotation for a start so Leyland could give Dontrelle Willis a chance to show what he can do, Galarraga was back in yesterday in place of Jeremy Bonderman, who's likely out for the season after having a blood clot removed over the weekend.
Galarraga was victimized by RBI singles from Grady Sizemore and Ryan Garko. He gave up four hits, struck out four, and walked two in 52/3 innings.
"He's good," Garko said of Galarraga. "He's a strike thrower, but he's not getting barreled-up on. He's missing barrels [of bats] but getting contact."
Cabrera, who along with Willis came to the Tigers Dec. 5 for six players [four of them pitchers], had two more hits yesterday, including a two-out, RBI single off Cleveland starter Jeremy Sowers in the first. Cabrera's RBI single Saturday put Detroit ahead in its 8-4 victory.
Renteria went 0-for-4 yesterday, but hit a grand slam Saturday and made two strong defensive plays in the first inning yesterday that set the tone.
With Curtis Granderson's solo homer in the second inning yesterday, Placido Polanco's two-run single in the fourth, and Cabrera's hit, Detroit scored four of its five runs with two outs.
Todd Jones worked the ninth for his 311th-career save, tying him with Tom Henke for 16th on the all-time list.
"It looks like we're starting to get a feel," said Leyland, whose Tigers now trail the Indians by 1 1/2 games for third place in the American League Central. "Knock on wood, we look like we're playing a little better."
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