Tigers Take Series From Yankees

Human InterestDetroit TigersTennisNew York YankeesA.J. BurnettWXMIMiami Marlins

One inning, the Tigers are getting no-hit by A.J. Burnett, with nary a walk. The next inning, they have five runs on three hits on their way to a 6-3 win.

One day, the Tigers are shouting at each other in the clubhouse at Cleveland after a series sweep, on their way to a seven-game losing streak, tied for the longest under Jim Leyland's managerial tenure. Four days later, closer Jose Valverde is yelling in the air on the mound with a win, and the Tigers have taken three straight to close a four-game set against the American League East-leading Yankees, who had lost consecutive games only once this season before their arrival in Detroit.

The Tigers, meanwhile, are back within two games of .500 thanks to their third winning streak of three games or more this season, which have accounted for 11 of their 15 wins.

For the season, they're pretty much treading water. Shorter-term, they're bobbing, so to speak.

"You can't do anything about it," said Brandon Inge, who has preached the no-panic approach, with the exception of last Sunday's emotional team meeting. "We do understand it's the long haul, not just what happens in April and May. We understand every game counts, but it's for the long haul. We want to take the same approach all year."

Inge believes that the one flare-up the Tigers did have, the meeting in Cleveland, will help them in the long run. It's one of the best things that could've happened, he said, because of the unity that came out of it.

"Tempers flare," Inge said. "Things happen. Teams grow closer."

That doesn't mean that teams panic.

"I've got all the confidence in the world," Leyland said. "You can't ride with the emotions of the fans every time. And I understand their emotions. I'm not making excuses. I'm just making a point. If we pitch good tomorrow night, we'll have another chance to win another game. We're going to win a lot of games. I've never lost confidence in this team, and I won't. It's a good team. We should win our share."

The approach on Thursday against A.J. Burnett was consistent, even if the results weren't.

Burnett has a no-hitter to his credit, having tossed one in 2000 with the Marlins, so he has a track record of no-hit stuff, even if his historic moment came with nine walks. But as the Tigers looked up at the scoreboard in the sixth inning, they had a run, but neither a hit nor a walk. Their lone tally had come in the opening inning, when fill-in leadoff man Don Kelly was hit by a pitch, moved to third on Burnett's errant pickoff throw and scored on Brennan Boesch's sacrifice fly. Burnett had sent down 15 of 16 Tigers after hitting Kelly with an 0-2 pitch.

Ramon Santiago led off the sixth inning looking to turn on a first-pitch fastball, and he got it. Santiago sent it down the right-field line rather than into the gap, but the hard bouncer skipped off first baseman Mark Teixeira and into right field, breaking up the no-hit bid. Kelly's sacrifice bunt advanced Santiago before Boesch, who was 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and two outs entering the game, sent a ground ball up the middle to draw the Tigers even.

Of all of Boesch's contributions, including the sacrifice fly and an eighth-inning solo homer, that one made him feel best.

"I felt we had to have it," Boesch said. "He threw me a couple of tough pitches."

Burnett and Victor Martinez battled each other for nine pitches before Martinez sent another ground ball through the middle for a leadoff single. It might have been the biggest at-bat of the game because of the rally that followed, but it was the only hit of the inning.

After a Magglio Ordonez walk, Ryan Raburn went to bat with the intention of bunting the runners over, but Burnett hit him with a 1-0 pitch to load the bases with still no one out for Inge, who worked a 2-0 count before launching a fly ball to deep left field to drive in the go-ahead run.

Ordonez and Raburn also moved up on the play, which became big two batters later, when Eduardo Nunez -- giving Derek Jeter a day off at shortstop -- overthrew Teixeira at first base for another error that turned Kelly's ground ball into two unearned runs.

"I just made a bad throw," Nunez said of his second error of the day. "That happens."

In that situation, it's a relatively rare happening. But it's something the Tigers aren't exactly going to apologize for capitalizing on.

"We got a break," Leyland said. "You don't look for breaks, but they also go along with winning streaks and losing streaks. Today, Raburn gets hit, loads the bases. In the last inning, [Russell] Martin hits a bullet off Valverde, and it goes to shortstop. A couple days ago, that goes into center field. That's just the way it is."

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