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Published: 7/30/2008

Tigers hit Indians without taking batting practice

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Armando Galarraga gave up three runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 51/3 innings last night in a victory over the Indians. The right-hander leads the Tigers in wins and sports a 9-4 record with a 3.38 earned run average. Armando Galarraga gave up three runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 51/3 innings last night in a victory over the Indians. The right-hander leads the Tigers in wins and sports a 9-4 record with a 3.38 earned run average.
MARK DUNCAN / AP Enlarge
The Indians  Shin-Soo Choo watches his double off the Tigers  Armando Galarraga to drive in a run in the sixth inning.
The Indians Shin-Soo Choo watches his double off the Tigers Armando Galarraga to drive in a run in the sixth inning.
MARK DUNCAN / AP Enlarge

CLEVELAND - Jim Leyland doesn't deserve - nor does he accept - all of the credit when he pulls certain strings and gets positive results.

All he can do is write nine names into a lineup, and the rest is up to the guys swinging the bats.

But at times this year it's seemed he's had a sense about his team, knowing when certain players need to play and when others need a night off. He determined yesterday that his entire 25-man roster was a bit fatigued from recent events, and canceled batting practice.

Rested and ready, the Tigers responded with 14 hits in an 8-5 victory over the Indians one night after getting shut out for the 11th time this season.

Detroit now trails Chicago by 5 1/2 games and is five games behind Minnesota in the American League Central.

"It had nothing to do with whether we won or lost, probably, but the guys like it," Leyland said of skipping batting practice. He said he's already canceled batting practice for tonight's game, meaning players don't have to be dressed until 6:15.

"It puts them in better spirits. They can sleep in, stay out a little later, maybe have a beer," he said.

Something else Leyland will do again tonight is play Brandon Inge, who went 2-for-3 with a homer, a double, and three RBIs.

Inge, who caught last night and will play third base tonight, had an RBI double off Cleveland starter Matt Ginter during a three-double, three-run fourth inning. With the Tigers up 6-3 in the eighth, Inge belted a two-run homer off Rafael Betancourt for his eighth homer this year.

"I show up to the ballpark every day expecting I'm going to be playing, and more so the other days I get a letdown," said Inge, who's been Detroit's uber utility man this year.

The nightmare season for Betancourt continues. One of baseball's top relievers last year, he truly dominated the Tigers, shutting them out in 132/3 innings in 2007. In 41/3 innings against Detroit this year, Betancourt has allowed nine runs on seven hits.

"Betancourt's going to figure it out," Indians manager Eric Wedge said before the game. "The funny part about it is, he has a better breaking ball and changeup than he ever has. It's just a matter of putting it all together and working off his fastball and throwing his breaking ball where he wants to."

Miguel Cabrera led off the second with a solo homer and finished 2-for-5. Cabrera is batting .395 (17-for-43) with five homers and 15 RBIs in 10 games against the Indians this season.

Edgar Renteria and Gary Sheffield both had two-run doubles last night. It was Renteria's seventh extra-base hit in his last 70 games, and Sheffield's hit erased an 0-for-9 skid.

Armando Galarraga continued his reign as the Tigers' most consisted starting pitcher. He allowed three runs on five hits in 51/3 innings and picked up his team-high ninth victory.

"I don't know where we'd be with out him," Leyland said.

But all was not right with the Tigers. Questions still linger about their bullpen.

Joel Zumaya, who left Sunday's game with a right triceps issue, pitched 12/3 innings last night, allowing a run on a walk and two doubles. New closer Fernando Rodney pitched in a nonsave situation in the ninth inning and started by walking Grady Sizemore.

Sizemore later scored from third on a wild pitch.

Asked if he had concerns about his late-inning relievers, Leyland said: "Quite a bit if we don't start throwing the ball over the plate."

Leyland said Todd Jones might close tonight.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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