Blue Jays-Tigers rained out
Most of the Detroit Tigers had a quiet evening Tuesday, waiting out a two-hour rain delay before their game against Toronto was postponed.
Joaquin Benoit, though, lost his job.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland told the media repeatedly before the game that he wasn't going to answer any questions about Benoit's status, but changed his mind a few minutes later.
While recording his pregame radio show with Tigers play-by-play man Dan Dickerson, Leyland confirmed that he was going to take Benoit out of the eighth-inning role. He did not announce a replacement.
Benoit started the season well, but has struggled over the past few weeks. In his last six outings, dating back to April 27, he has allowed 14 runs in five innings. He's lost three of the games.
''Obviously, he's struggling,'' Leyland said after Benoit lost Monday's game to the Blue Jays. ''It's not velocity - his velocity is still good. He's just not able to locate the ball when he throws it.''
For the season, Benoit is 1-3 with a 7.98 ERA - a far cry from last season's spectacular performance with the Rays. In 63 games, he put up a 1.34 ERA, allowing just 30 hits in 60 1/3 innings.
That earned him a three-year, $16.5 million deal from the Tigers, and he hasn't figured out why he isn't living up to that money.
''If I knew that, I would give you an answer,'' he said. ''I'm trying to figure that out. Things just aren't working right now.''
Benoit insists that he isn't injured, and Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp doesn't think the problem can be fixed with a simple tweak to his delivery.
''Is it mechanics? I don't think it's mechanics,'' Knapp said. ''I think it's just confidence. To throw the ball down, it isn't something you can think about, you have to leverage it that way. You have to know that you're going to throw the ball down and not have to think about it.''
Benoit was booed off the mound after Monday's outing, which saw him allow three runs in his only inning.
''I would love to hear them cheer but right now things are not going right and I can't blame them,'' he said. ''The only thing I can do is try to get better, try to be more consistent, throw strikes early and get people out. If I'm not doing it right now, I can't blame anybody.''
The good news for Benoit and his Detroit teammates is that Tuesday's rainout means they won't have to face the red-hot Blue Jays again until late June. This game will be made up on June 27.
Toronto lost three straight to the Tigers from May 7-9, but have won six straight since, including Monday's 4-2 victory.
The Blue Jays offense has been the key to the streak - averaging seven runs a game - and they have done it without Adam Lind, who has been out with a bad back.
Lind is hitting .313 in 32 games, and his 27 RBIs are tied for the team lead with Jose Bautista. He had hoped to return to the Toronto lineup in Detroit, but sustained a setback Monday and was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to May 8.
''He was taking batting practice, and it tightened up on him again,'' Toronto manager John Farrell said. ''We're going to send him down to Florida to our extended spring camp and let him work this out. The good news is that we're already half way into the 15-day period.''
The Blue Jays replaced Lind on the roster with one of their top prospects, Eric Thames. The 24-year-old was in his first year at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was hitting .342.
''I pride myself on my hitting, and I work very hard on it,'' said Thames, who had been scheduled to make his major-league debut at designated hitter before Tuesday's game was postponed. ''I listened to the veterans in spring training, I applied what they told me, and so far, it has been working in my favor.''
Farrell said that Thames will split time between leftfield and designated hitter.
''It is important that, when you bring a young guy up, you get him some work,'' Farrell said. ''You don't want to have him up here just to sit around.''
NOTES: Farrell will be at the All-Star game in Phoenix as a coach for Texas manager Ron Washington. He also went as a coach in 2008 while working for Boston's Terry Francona, but never made an All-Star game as a pitcher. ... The game will be made up on the night of June 27, which had been an off-day for both teams. ... Toronto will keep their rotation intact, with Tuesday's scheduled starter, Jesse Litsch, pitching Wednesday at home against Tampa Bay. Detroit, though, will skip Rick Porcello's start and let Phil Coke pitch Wednesday in Boston, as originally planned.