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Published: Tuesday, 7/29/2008

Indians starter mows down Detroit hitters

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Kelly Shoppach blasts a solo home run for the Indians off Tigers starter Kenny Rogers in the sixth inning last night. Kelly Shoppach blasts a solo home run for the Indians off Tigers starter Kenny Rogers in the sixth inning last night.
MARK DUNCAN / AP Enlarge

CLEVELAND The nine men who made up Tigers manager Jim Leyland s batting order last night were collectively batting .300 against Indians starter Paul Byrd.

Go ahead and lower that number a bit.

Byrd dominated Detroit for nearly eight innings and pitched the Tribe to a 5-0 victory. He scattered four hits and walked three in 72/3 innings in what was his final audition for contending teams interested in acquiring him by Thursday s non-waiver trade deadline.

The shutout was the 11th for Indians pitchers and Tigers hitters. Cleveland s 11 shutouts as a staff are tied for a major league high with Boston, while Detroit s 11 shutouts as a lineup lead the American League.

The Tigers lineup last night consisted of Miguel Cabrera, the reigning AL player of the week; Magglio Ordonez, who narrowly lost out to Cabrera for the league s weekly award; and Matt Joyce, a recent player-of-the-week honoree.

I must be a [expletive] manager. I had three guys win player of the week almost and we didn t do too good, Leyland said.

Leyland, whose Tigers trail the White Sox by 6 games and the Twins by 1 games in the AL Central, chalked this one up to the collective fatigue of his players and Byrd s performance.

Detroit played seven road games after the All-Star break, went home for a grueling three-game series with the White Sox, and began an 11-day road trip last night.

Leyland briefly discussed with his players following last night s game the toll the past several days has taken on them.

When I talk about a meeting, I m not talking about any screaming or yelling. I m talking about a couple calm comments to make the point of, hey, I understood this game tonight, Leyland said. They ve been through a lot. We were a little flat, and a lot of credit [goes] to Byrd, and you move on.

The numbers the Tigers hitters had against Byrd (5-10) coming in were somewhat deceiving. Byrd had two quality starts already against Detroit this year and entered the game with a 9-2 mark lifetime against the Tigers.

So on one hand, maybe Byrd didn t need much help in shutting down Leyland s bunch. But he said a tip from pitcher-turned-broadcaster Bert Blyleven helped him with his slider, which he said he used for three of his four strikeouts.

Byrd left the mound with two on and two out in the eighth to a standing ovation in what could be his final start as an Indian. Cleveland has already traded CC Sabathia and

Casey Blake, and like them, Byrd will be a free agent this winter.

I m in a win-win situation, Byrd said. I love it here, love the people in the locker room, the fans. But if I get traded I m assuming it will be to a team in contention.

Eddie Mujica relieved Byrd and retired all four hitters he faced. He hasn t allowed a run in his last 12 innings the longest scoreless streak by an Indians reliever this year.

The Indians pulled away from the Tigers with a three-run sixth off of starter Kenny Rogers.

Up 2-0, Kelly Shoppach led off with a homer and Asdrubal Cabrera later hit a two-run shot his first since May 12.

Curtis Granderson had two of Detroit s hits and has a seven-game hitting streak. Placido Polanco s hitting streak stopped last night at 11 games.

Both Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya should be available to pitch tonight.

Rodney, the Tigers new closer, threw 42 pitches Sunday against the White Sox. Zumaya left that game with tightness in his right triceps, but he felt better yesterday and could ve pitched if needed.

If Leyland had needed a closer last night it would ve been Todd Jones, which is ironic considering Jones was told three days ago he was no longer the Tigers closer.

Contact Joe Vardon at:jvardon@theblade.comor 419-410-5055.



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