DETROIT (AP)—Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon has been watching Kenny Rogers pitch for over 20 years.
He still hasn’t figured out how to beat the crafty left-hander.
Rogers allowed one run in eight strong innings to earn the 199th victory of his career, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Devil Rays 7-1 Tuesday night.
Rogers is scheduled to go for his 200th win Sunday at Wrigley Field.
“The first time I saw him was in 1984 in Burlington, Iowa,” Maddon said. “He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s not going to throw you a good pitch until you make him throw one.”
Rogers (9-3), who would be the 10th active pitcher to reach 200 wins, allowed four hits and a walk and struck out nine, one short of his career high.
“I don’t go for strikeouts, but if I had known I was at nine, I would have gone after some other hitters,” Rogers said. “I felt good. I think there’s a lot of value in knowing how to pitch. I’ve been around a long time.”
The four-time Gold Glove winner also helped himself with a spectacular defensive play in the seventh. Jorge Cantu’s hard grounder hit the 41-year-old on his right forearm and rebounded to the first-base line, but he chased it down and made a diving toss to first for the out. Rogers received a standing ovation from the crowd of 20,935 when returning to the dugout after the inning.
“It bounced the right way for me to make the play,” he said. “I want to make those plays—I try to never give up on them.”
The play unnerved Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
“He’s a wild man when it comes to fielding,” he said. “He was doing that kind of thing in spring training, and it scared me, but you’re not going to change him. He’s too old.”
The AL Central-leading Tigers have won four straight.
“You have to feel pretty good,” said Carlos Guillen, who drove in two runs and scored twice. “This is where we want to be.”
Seth McClung (2-9) lost for the fifth start in a row, giving up six runs— five earned—on seven hits and three walks in four-plus innings. McClung has an 8.54 ERA in the skid.
“I’m not having a lot of success, but I’m having bits and pieces of success,” he said. “Two or three years ago, the Tigers kept running guys out there every five days, even though they weren’t having much success, and look how well it worked for them.”
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second, thanks to a Tampa Bay defensive mistake. With one out, Guillen lifted a fly ball into the left-field corner that Carl Crawford dropped for a two-base error.
The Tigers put the game away with six runs in the fifth, chasing McClung in the process.
Magglio Ordonez walked, loading the bases, and Guillen followed with a two-run double to right.
“If that was a fight, they would have stopped it on cuts,” Maddon said.
Tampa Bay got their only run in the eighth when Rocco Baldelli led off with a double, took third on a groundout and scored on Josh Paul’s sacrifice fly. ^Notes: An arrest warrant was issued Tuesday for DH Dmitri Young after he failed to appear for a pretrial hearing on a domestic violence charge. Young was granted permission to leave the team when he went on the DL last month. … Granderson ended the Devil Rays sixth with a diving catch of Crawford’s sinking liner to center. … Tampa Bay’s pitchers took batting practice before the game in preparation for this weekend’s interleague series in Philadelphia. … The Devil Rays bullpen has pitched 12 innings in the first two games of the four-game series.