Doug Mathis came out of the bullpen to give Texas four innings in an emergency spot start, and four other relievers shut out Detroit on one hit the rest of the way as the Rangers beat the Tigers 7-3 on Tuesday night.
Ex-Tiger Jason Grilli (1-1) pitched two perfect innings of relief with three strikeouts to pick up the decision.
“If we continue to develop our roles as we have, I put our bullpen against anyone in the big leagues,” Grilli said. “I think we thrive on that fact. Pitching and defense is what matters and we’ve been doing that well and I think our offense thrives off of that.”
Normally a long reliever, Mathis made his second start of the season and sixth of his career for Texas in place of Vicente Padilla, still weak from swine flu and scratched from the start about 3 1-2 hours prior to gametime.
Mathis allowed three runs and six hits in four innings. Grilli, Eddie Guardado, Darren O’Day and Guillermo Moscoso went the rest of the way, with Texas retiring 15 straight from the fourth through the eighth.
“It shows what character we have out there,” Guardado said. “We needed everyone to step up. We all did our part and contributed to this win.”
Ian Kinsler drove in three runs, and rookie Elvis Andrus homered and had three hits for the Rangers.
Kinsler, who was in a huge funk at the plate that shrunk his batting average from .272 to .242., highlighted a four-run second with a two-run triple. Kinsler began the night with 16 hits in his previous 103 at-bats.
Kinsler left the game before the seventh with a mildly strained left hamstring and will be evaluated on Wednesday.
The Rangers have taken two straight from the Tigers after dropping the previous seven meetings and have won eight of nine overall.
Detroit is 4-8 since the All-Star break and its sputtering offense has scored three runs or less eight times in that span. The Tigers have lost three straight and seven in a row on the road.
Mathis had been tough out of the bullpen, pitching 17 scoreless innings in relief since he was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 3.
But Detroit ended Mathis’ consecutive scoreless innings streak at 18 with a three-run second on Ramon Santiago‘s RBI double and Dusty Ryan‘s two-run single.
Texas answered with a four-run second off rookie Luke French – all with two out – on Andrus’ run-scoring single, Kinsler’s two-run triple and Michael Young‘s RBI double.
“The kiss of death was when we scored three and come right back out and give ’em four,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That pretty much sums it up.”
Kinsler’s sacrifice fly in the fourth and slumping Josh Hamilton‘s RBI single in the fifth ended an 0-for-17 slide to make it 6-3.
Leyland continues to be mystified by his team’s lack of offense. Detroit’s team batting average of .255 is tied for 11th in the AL.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our offense,” Leyland said. “It’s sputtered most of the year, to be honest with you. I still have confidence in ’em based on the track records, but at some point you’ve got to do it.”
Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher warned both dugouts in the seventh after Guardado threw an inside pitch to Adam Everett. Miner had thrown a pitch behind Kinsler in the sixth, drawing a reaction from the Texas dugout. Leyland questioned a pitch behind Clete Thomas‘ head thrown by Grilli in the fifth after Thomas had hit a foul ball deep into the seats. “I didn’t like that pitch,” Leyland said. “I have no problem with people pitching inside. That’s part of the game. But when a guy hits a loud foul and the next pitch is right behind your head and you don’t throw any other wild pitches, it looks suspicious. I’m not accusing anyone of anything. But it looks suspicious.”. … Santiago fouled a ball off his right shin in the fourth and was replaced at SS by Everett in the bottom of the inning. Santiago is listed as day-to-day. … Andrus, who’s 20, stole his 20th base in the fourth, becoming the 10th player in major league history to reach the mark before his 21st birthday.