He gets the opportunity to do so again Wednesday when they continue their four-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Despite a 16-30 career record entering the season, Durbin (7-3, 4.36 ERA) has been a primary reason the reigning AL champions stayed near the top of the Central division this year, going 6-3 the first two-plus months while veteran Kenny Rogers rehabilitated his throwing shoulder following surgery to remove a blood clot.
Rogers’ return in mid-June relegated Durbin to the bullpen, where he went 1-0 with one save and a 4.35 ERA in 12 relief appearances. But Tigers manager Jim Leyland has decided to re-insert the right-hander into the rotation after rookie Andrew Miller was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a strained hamstring.
“He’s one of my favorite pitchers because he’s a flexible guy,” Leyland told the team’s official Web site of Durbin. “He’s pitched the eighth and ninth for us, he’s pitched long and he’s started for us. He’s done a good job pretty much all the time, with a couple of exceptions.”
Ironically, the Tigers bullpen cost Durbin a win May 28 against the Devil Rays. He allowed two runs in six innings and left with a three-run lead before Tampa Bay rallied for a 6-5 victory. Durbin is 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in four lifetime starts versus the Devil Rays, but had not faced them since 2001 prior to that May start.
The Tigers (63-49) remained one-half game behind first-place Cleveland in the Central following a 9-6 win Tuesday. Rookie Ryan Raburn scored the go-ahead run in a three-run eighth and added two RBIs for Detroit, which has won consecutive games after losing nine of its previous 10.
“He’s a hungry player, and hungry players are dangerous,” Leyland said of Raburn, who had 14 RBIs in 17 games.
Magglio Ordonez had three hits for the second straight game and is 10-for-21 with two homers and five RBIs in his last five contests. He leads the majors with a .354 batting average.
The Devil Rays (42-70) have lost eight straight road games, and a defeat would match their season high established June 19-July 5. The latest defeat was difficult to take after Tampa Bay had rallied with a four-run eighth to tie the score at 6.
“That was like a roller-coaster,” Devil Rays designated hitter Jonny Gomes said. “My homer took us up, and some bloop hits off (Dan) Wheeler took us right back down.”
Tampa has lost 19 of its last 21 on the road, where it is 16-37.
James Shields (8-7, 4.45) tries to win for just the third time since June 15 for the Devil Rays. The right-hander has pitched well enough to win his last two starts, giving up three runs in each outing, but Tampa Bay has scored just one run in each game.
Shields made one mistake against Baltimore - allowing a three-run homer by former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff - in 6 2-3 innings on Friday and was saddled with the 3-1 loss. Shields has lost seven of his last nine decisions after beginning the season 6-0, compiling a 6.75 ERA in his last 10 starts.
“Every game is tough, every pitch is tough,” said Shields, whose lone start against the Tigers was a seven-hitter in a 5-3 win May 30. “I lost focus on that one pitch and it cost me. You can’t accept things like that. Personally I can’t accept things like that.”
The Devil Rays have not won on the road since a 14-4 rout of the New York Yankees on July 20.