- Jair Jurrjens started for Toledo and gave up seven hits and one walk in five innings, eventually allowing three earned runs while striking out three. Jurrjens threw 79 pitches, 50 for strikes, in his first time in a game since he made a start for Norfolk on July 9.
Jurrjens fastball sat in the 88-89 mph range (one at 87, 15 at 88, 18 at 89, three at 90), and he threw 24 of the 37 fastballs for strikes (one swinging, seven taken, eight fouled and seven put in play -- three outs and four hits).
Jurrjens change-up sat in the 83-84 mph range (three at 82, 14 at 83, five at 84 and one at 85), and he threw 14 of the 23 for strikes (two swinging, four taken, three fouled and five put in play -- three hits and two outs).
Jurrjens breaking ball (a slider, I believe) sat at 77-78 mph (one at 76, four at 77, six at 78 and four at 79), and he threw nine of the 15 for strikes (four swinging, three taken, two put in play -- both outs).
Jurrjens threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 21 batters he faced and had just four 2-0 counts (only one ended up as a hit, with one strikeout and one double play) to go with three 0-2 counts (all outs, including a strikeout and a double play).
"I felt good," Jurrjens said afterwards. "If I would have caught a ground ball back to me [off the bat of Mike Fontenot in the second inning], it would have been a double play to end the inning [and would have kept Durham from scoring]. I got a little bit lazy on it. Then I made a bad pitch to the guy after that [for an RBI double]. But I thought I made pitches when I needed to and gave the team a chance to win."
I asked him about not having pitched in a few weeks, and he said, "Honestly, I got a little bit winded the last couple of innings. I hadn't been out there for a couple of weeks, and I feel like I'm in spring training again -- I have to build up my pitch count. I think, after the break I've had, for a first outing I did pretty well."
- Darin Downs pitched two innings for the Mud Hens, retiring the Bulls in order in the seventh before finding some trouble in the eighth. Downs got two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 seventh, then got the first out in the eighth before allowing two hits and a walk to load the bases -- and leaving the game because he reached his pitch count.
Downs threw 33 pitches, 19 for strikes, in just his third appearance (second for the Hens) since going on Detroit's disabled list July 7 because of shoulder tendonitis. When Jose Ortega came on and gave up a two-run double and a sacrifice fly, Downs was charged with three earned runs.
Downs threw 14 fastballs ... and I'd like to talk about the range for a second. In his first inning of work he threw five, all at 91 mph, and three were strikes (one swinging, two fouled). In his second inning he threw nine in the 88-91 mph range (two at 91, one at 90, four at 89, two at 88). Of those nine, five were strikes (one fouled, two taken, two put in play -- both for hits).
Downs threw 15 pitches that were either sliders or change-ups (I would say mostly sliders, but please remember I'm in the press box and don't have a great angle on them). The slider sat at roughly 85 mph (two at 83, four at 84, seven at 85, two at 86, one at 87), and eight were strikes. Again, to break that down by inning for a second, seven were strikes in his first inning of work (three fouls, one taken, two swinging and one put in play). In the second inning, he threw only one of seven for strikes ... a second reason for his problems in the second inning of work.
Downs threw only three curveballs, all three of which came in the first inning. They were all fouled off, with two at 74 and one at 76.
In short: Coming back for the second inning of work was a bit of a struggle. He said he will take Thursday off, then check in Detroit with the Tigers Friday to plan the next step; if all is good, Downs will return to the Mud Hens to pitch two innings Saturday. That's a tentative plan.
"I feel great -- my arm is healthy," Downs said afterwards. "I just don't have the stamina right now, and that affected my location a little bit."
- Here's a quick look at two other pitchers Tigers fans have seen this season: Luke Putkonen and Jose Ortega. Let's start with the one who threw the best first, as Putkonen retired Durham in 1-2-3 order with two strikeouts, using just 11 pitches to turn the trick.
Putkonen's fastball sat in the 92-94 mph range (two at 92, three at 93, three at 94), and he threw five of the nine for strikes (four taken, one groundout). Notice that I didn't differentiate between his fastball and sinker. Putkonen's change-up sat at 83-84 mph (two at 83, one at 83), with two of the three going for strikes (both swings for strike three). Dominating performance.
Ortega also threw 11 pitches, eight for strikes, but his numbers were strikingly different from Putkonen's. Ortega gave up a LONG double off the wall in right (to a batter he had down 1-2), then a sacrifice fly before getting a strikeout. Ortega's line looks relatively clean, but he inherited three runners -- and all three scored.
Ortega's fastball sat in the 96-97 mph range (one at 94, one at 95, three at 96, two at 97), with four of the seven thrown for strikes (one taken, one fouled, and two swung at). Ortega's slider sat at 84-86 mph (one at each speed). All three were strikes, but one was swung at and missed, one resulted in the double and one resulted in the sacrifice fly. The swing and miss was a nasty slider (at 85), the other two were not.
- Jose Valverde came on in the ninth and allowed a double before getting a strikeout and two groundouts in a scoreless inning. Valverde threw 20 pitches, 15 of which were strikes.
Valverde threw 13 fastballs at roughly 93 mph (one at 92, nine at 93, three at 94), and 11 of the 13 were strikes (two taken, two swinging, five fouled, two put in play -- one for a hit). He threw seven splitters in the 83-84 mph range (four at 83, three at 84), and four were strikes (two fouled, one taken, one put in play). The double was a tailing fastball that a left-handed hitter took down the left-field line for a double ... it wasn't a perfect pitch, but it was a good piece of hitting. The other swings against him were not good.
- Jordan Lennerton had a terrific night, finishing with four hits (three singles and a double) along with a walk in five plate appearances. Lennerton raised his season's batting average to .295 as he continues to excel in the second spot in the batting order.
In five games since switching to the second spot in the batting order, Lennerton has hit .471 with two doubles and a home run among his eight hits. He also has five walks and a hit batsman (against just four strikeouts) for a .609 on-base percentage. He has a simply obscene 1.373 OPS while batting second.
"For me, there's not a difference to my approach whether I'm hitting second, third, fourth or fifth," Lennerton said. "I'm going to stick with what works for me. ... I'm still getting lots of pitches to hit."
It's worth noting that Lennerton, who early in the season had more hits to left field than to right, pulled two singles to right field, had a single to center and a slicing double down the left-field line. He is pulling the ball more than he did earlier in the year -- and with a authority, as the single off the wall in right in the fifth would attest.
I will have Thursday "off" from the Mud Hens ... talk to you Friday!