Lobstein, Soria help Tigers shut down White Sox 4-1
Right now, the Tigers only have one trustworthy reliever.
Thursday, that was all they needed.
Kyle Lobstein allowed one run in a career-high 7 2/3 innings, and Joakim Soria finished the game with a four-out save, striking out all four batters he faced.
Soria hadn't gone more than one inning for a save in five years, but he couldn't have been any better. He's just the sixth pitcher in the last 10 years to pick up a save by striking out four straight batters.
"I felt really good, so I was ready to go," said Soria, who hadn't pitched since Sunday. "I just wanted to go out, have some fun and make sure to secure the win."
Brad Ausmus has been a firm bullpen traditionalist during his managerial career, picking one closer and using him as strictly a ninth-inning pitcher. That changed Thursday, less than 24 hours after Joba Chamberlain allowed four runs in the eighth to cost the Tigers what had looked like a comfortable win.
Ausmus didn't directly address Wednesday's game, but it clearly played a role in his thinking, especially after he said that Soria's extra rest wasn't the reason he did it.
"It certainly made it easier, but it didn't really have much to do with it," Ausmus said. "Sorie is usually effective with his pitches, so we knew we could ask him for a little more. We got great performances from both our pitchers on a day we needed it."
Soria is now 11-for-11 in save opportunities, and has only allowed five hits and two runs in 14 games.
"I've been watching him do this for a long time," said Victor Martinez, who is 1-for-10 in his career against Soria. "I hated him when I had to face him, because I knew he was going to throw strikes, so I only had three pitches to do something. It's great having him on our team now, though."
Of course, Soria's big finish was only possible because of Lobstein's performance. He improved on strong recent outings by only allowing seven baserunners and one unearned run to take a lead into the eighth inning.
"I know I sound redundant because I'll say this all season, but I was throwing strikes and pitching to contact," he said. "My plan is always to throw strike one, and then use my defense. If I get ahead in the count, it lets me throw pitches that aren't as likely to get hit hard."
The Tigers now return from a 5-5 road trip to face Kansas City in a weekend series. The Royals will be without one of their star relievers, as Kelvin Herrera began serving a six-game suspension on Thursday.
The series begins Friday, with the first pitch on FOX Sports Detroit at 7:08 pm.