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|Blaine Hardy was supposed to be a short-term starter while injured Tigers pitchers recovered.
A string of solid outings by the veteran left-hander T.Y. Hilton Jersey , though, has Detroit management reconsidering that plan.
Nicholas Castellanos homered and Hardy pitched one-run ball into the sixth, leading the Tigers over the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on Sunday for their fifth straight win.
Hardy (3-1) allowed one run on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He has given up two runs or less in six of his seven starts – the first starts of his five-year career.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said he’s considering a six-man rotation when Francisco Liriano returns from the disabled list – a week after dismissing that as an option.
”We got some guys in there who might need extra days that could probably use it,” Gardenhire said. ”We started thinking we could probably do this with some of these guys, give them a breather going into All-Star break.”
Hardy said he won’t be sweating out a decision.
”I’ve really gone start to start from the get-go,” he said. ”Even if they tell me I’m in the rotation for the rest of the year, I’m probably going to do the same thing. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Jose Iglesias added an RBI single as Detroit improved to 8-1 against the White Sox this season, including 6-0 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Castellanos homered twice on Saturday and connected again in his first at-bat Sunday. Before Saturday, he was mired in a 1-for-21 slump over the previous five games.
Matt Davidson hit his 12th homer and Kevan Smith had two hits for Chicago, which has dropped four straight.
James Shields (2- allowed three runs on six hits in six-plus innings. Shields walked Jeimer Candelario with one out in the first and Castellanos followed with a homer.
”I got behind in the count to Castellanos,” Shields said. ”I thought he just popped it up, but it ended up going over the fence. They’re hot right now.”
After Davidson’s solo homer in the second – his first since May 13 – Iglesias drove in Niko Goodrum in the fourth to make it 3-1.
THE HEAT IS ON
The temperature at the start was 92 degrees and it rose a couple of degrees from there.
”The only place I’ve probably seen hotter weather is Texas,” Hardy said. ”It’s one of those things where you go out there and try to go as long as you can.”
With closer Shane Greene unavailable after pitching four straight days, Joe Jimenez struck out the side in the ninth for his second save.
”He’s been throwing really well as a setup guy whenever we put him in,” Gardenhire said. ”You can see the velocity. He’s a power guy and he’s confident now. He’s gotten over that I-don’t-want-to-make-a-mistake thing and he just attacks.”
Tigers: LHP Daniel Stumpf (ulnar nerve irritation) is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday.
White Sox: RHP Miguel Gonzalez (rotator cuff inflammation) reported no problems following a 25-pitch session on Saturday. The plan is for him to throw another session – 25 pitches or more – during the three-game series at Cleveland.
Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd (4-4, 3.23 ERA) starts the opener of a two-game series at Cincinnati on Tuesday night. RHP Sal Romano (3-7, 5.67) pitches for the Reds.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Covey (3-1 Denzelle Good Jersey , 2.29 ERA) takes the mound in the opener of a three-game series at Cleveland on Monday night. Covey is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his last three starts. RHP Trevor Bauer (5-5, 2.69) goes for the Indians.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays were a wobbly 34-40 on June 20, but have pitched their way back to .500 mostly without true starting pitchers.
On Saturday, five relievers combined to outduel Justin Verlander in a 5-2 victory, and as the series wraps up Sunday, the Rays are on even footing with the pitching-dominant Houston Astros on the mound.
“It’s pretty remarkable what they’ve strung together here as of late, and today was no different,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after Saturday’s win.
The Rays turn to their best starter of the first half in Blake Snell, who looks to be a first-time All-Star with a 10-4 record and a 2.31 ERA.
Snell has taken only one loss in his last eight starts, and was superb against the Astros on June 19, throwing seven innings and holding a potent lineup to one run and three hits in a 2-1 victory. He managed to survive seven walks, including three in one scoreless inning, getting key double plays to work his way out of predicaments.
In his last seven starts, Snell has a 1.27 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 5.21 ERA in four career starts against Houston.
The Rays, who have been above .500 for only three days all season, face a stiff challenge Sunday in Astros right-hander Charlie Morton.
Morton (10-1 Anthony Castonzo Jersey , 2.54) hopes to continue a career resurrection since coming to Houston. Before arriving, he was 46-71 in his career. Since joining the Astros, he’s 24-8 in two seasons with a career-low ERA this year and a career-best strikeout rate of 11.5 per nine innings.
Morton is 3-0 in his last four games, with three earned runs allowed in his last 19 innings and none in his last two starts. He faced the Rays on June 20 and dominated, throwing six innings and holding Tampa Bay to two hits and one unearned run. He was even better in his last start, holding Toronto scoreless in seven innings while striking out 13, one off his season and career high.
Houston manager A.J. Hinch doesn’t like playing at Tropicanaa Field, and his team’s bats have been stifled in all three games, including Thursday’s 1-0 victory. The Astros have lost eight games this season with Verlander starting, and in six of those losses, they’ve scored a total of five runs.
“I hate the results at this ballpark, if you look back at what we’ve done,” Hinch said. “Those are facts. It is what it is. We have another game (Sunday). We need to figure it out before then.”
Astros standout Alex Bregman said the stadium has given Houston problems, but some of the credit should go to Rays pitchers, who have given them fits this weekend.
“I don’t know if it’s the ballpark. I think they just have a good staff,” Bregman said. “They have been playing really good ball as of late.”
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