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Left-on-left matchups don't deter Fielder

The SportsXchange

It isn't easy being Prince Fielder, at least according to Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

Fielder hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning Wednesday to give Detroit a 6-1 lead over the Chicago White Sox in a game the Tigers eventually won 8-6. The blast snapped the first baseman's 0-for-18 spell.

It came off a left-handed pitcher, too, which Fielder has seen a lot of this month.

"Prince got the lefty," Leyland said. "I said before, this time of year, lefties gotta get a hit off a lefty and righties gotta get a hit off a righty. As you see, there's so many pitchers in the bullpen at this point, you're probably not going to get a matchup that you exactly want."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura has 17 pitchers on his staff thanks to expanded rosters, and it seems as though he's using half of them nearly every game.

Ventura has been able to match Fielder against southpaw Donnie Veal, who hasn't given up a hit to a lefty in abbreviated action this season, and it's worked.

Veal retired Fielder once in each of the first two games of the series, but with Chicago trailing 3-1 with two on and two outs in the seventh Wednesday, Ventura opted for a different lefty, Leyson Septimo.

"I always believe in Prince no matter what," winning pitcher Max Scherzer said. "He's such a professional hitter. He knows what he's doing at the plate. Even if you see what appears struggling, it's only a matter of time before he snaps out of it.

"It was great for him to be able to get a slider and hit a home run. That's as good as it gets."

Leyland said, "Lemme tell you something, it's tough. Particularly a left-hand hitter, this time of year, when you're seeing a different left-hand pitcher every time you hit from the fourth or fifth inning on, that's tough. That's asking a lot. He's done it great.

"That's why I bunted (Tuesday) night. I knew they were going to walk (Miguel) Cabrera, but I feel totally confident with Prince against a left-hand pitcher. It didn't show up (Tuesday) night, but it showed up (Wednesday)."

Fielder did face Veal in the ninth, hitting the first pitch to center for an out. But by then Detroit had added two more runs, enough to withstand a late Chicago threat and pull within a game of first place in the AL Central.

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