After salvaging the final contest of a brief homestand, the Detroit Tigers take to the road for the opener of their longest trip this season.
The Tigers kick off a 10-game swing with a four-game set against the Cleveland Indians beginning Monday at Progressive Field.
The win, though, was overshadowed by bullpen issues. Manager Jim Leyland announced prior to the game that Fernando Rodney would replace Todd Jones as the team’s closer. Additionally, set-up man Joel Zumaya left in the eighth inning with tightness in his right triceps and is listed as day-to-day.
Rodney relieved Zumaya, but after throwing 42 pitches in 1 2-3 innings, he may have limited his availability for Monday’s game in Cleveland (45-58).
“We can’t be going to war right now with pitchers that can’t pitch for three or four days,” Leyland said after his club won for the fifth time in seven games.
Despite their uncertain pitching situation, the Tigers reduced their deficit in the Central to 6 1/2 games, and could see that number shrink further as the division’s top two teams - Chicago and Minnesota - open a four-game series against each other on Monday.
“Still very much in contention,” center fielder Curtis Granderson said. “There’s what? 58 games left? Anything can happen. Especially considering it’s not even August yet.”
Detroit now puts its season-high five-game road winning streak on the line as it sends Kenny Rogers (8-6, 4.48 ERA) to the mound.
Rogers has won consecutive outings for the first time since reeling off three straight wins June 22-July 4, 2007. On Tuesday, he limited Kansas City to one run and four hits in a 7-1 road victory, but didn’t come back for the seventh inning following a lengthy rain delay.
The 43-year-old left-hander is 17-16 with a 5.02 ERA in 58 career outings - 35 starts - versus the Indians. He left without a decision after giving up an earned run and five hits over seven innings of an 8-4 home win on June 7.
Cleveland, which is 14 games out of the division lead, has dropped four of its last five overall and fell to 1-2 on a seven-game homestand after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Twins.
To avoid a third straight home loss, the Indians hand the ball to Paul Byrd (4-10, 5.28) as he seeks to build on his first win in over a month.
Byrd held the Los Angeles Angels to one run and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win on Monday. The right-hander had entered the game with an 0-5 record and 7.76 ERA in his previous six starts.
“That was the old me out there,” Byrd told the Indians’ official Web site.
Byrd is 9-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 19 appearances against the Tigers. He didn’t receive a decision on July 9, when he gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings of an 8-6 loss at Detroit.
The Indians are 3-5 versus the Tigers this season after losing two games in Detroit July 8-9.