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DETROIT-- When it comes to Tiger-proofing, Augusta National has nothing on Comerica Park.
Detroit went against the grain when it built a new ballpark for the Tigers in 2000. Instead of constructing another retro bandbox, they made it a haven for sinkerballers, gap hitters and speed demons.
The problem is that the Tigers have none of the above, as they continued to demonstrate Tuesday night in an 8-2 loss to the White Sox.
Sox right-hander Dan Wright dominated the Tigers on a crisp evening in Motown, leaving Detroit 0-7 and gasping for air.
Throwing fastballs and changeups almost exclusively, Wright carried a shutout into the eighth inning and wound up allowing two runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings, walking no one while striking out four.
This is the same Dan Wright who repeatedly suffered the first-inning jitters in his rookie season before settling down. Pitching coach Nardi Contreras came up with an idea that seems to have worked.
"I really think it was more of a coincidence than anything, but it turned into a pattern, getting in trouble in the first innings," Wright said. "[Now] I warm up in the bullpen, take a few minutes off and rest. It's kind of like getting the first inning out of the way in the bullpen. I started to feel more comfortable."
But catcher Mark Johnson said Wright is virtually the same pitcher as last year.
"He's just throwing more strikes," Johnson said.
Detroit looked like the same team that underachieved under manager Phil Garner, whom Luis Pujols replaced after Garner was fired Monday. In his first game, Pujols watched his team play the same brand of sleepy baseball that got his predecessor canned.
After Royce Clayton doubled to right-center off knuckleballer Steve Sparks in the Sox's three-run fourth, second baseman Jose Macias took the relay throw and stood there for a few seconds, apparently unaware that Johnson was rounding third and heading for home.
Johnson's run gave the Sox a 3-0 lead, and the Sox poured it on against the porous Detroit bullpen. Frank Thomas cranked a two-run homer, the 350th home run of his career. Magglio Ordonez produced three doubles, while Clayton and Carlos Lee each drove in a pair of runs.
Wright was denied a victory in Seattle last week when Keith Foulke gave up four runs in the ninth. On Tuesday he cruised for his first victory, lowering the earned-run average of the rotation to 3.43.
"I've been on the hill a few times now," Wright said. "I'm not as overwhelmed [as in 2001]."
"Our starters are hopefully coming around," manager Jerry Manuel said. "We feel if we can get a good effort from Jon Garland [on Wednesday] and go back to Mark Buehrle, Todd Ritchie and Danny [Wright], we can get on a roll. [Wednesday] is a big game for us."
That's when the Sox end their season-opening trip before returning to Chicago for the home opener on Friday.
"I'm looking forward to playing at home," Manuel said, "And having the bottom inning in our favor."