Major League Baseball

Tigers expect Zimmermann to be ready to face Rays

mlb5.jpgTIGERS (37-82) AT RAYS (71-52)
6:10 p.m. ET; FS-SUN, FS-D, MLB.TV

Ryan Yarbrough is coming off the best outing of his career. He’ll have a good chance to match that dominance when he faces the weak-hitting Detroit Tigers (+1.5) on Saturday.

The Tampa Bay Rays (-1.5) left-hander mowed down the Seattle Mariners (+1.5) on Sunday, limiting them to three hits in 8 2/3 innings of a 1-0 victory. Yarbrough (11-3, 3.56 ERA) didn’t walk a batter while striking out eight.

Yarbrough, who lasted less than five innings in his previous two appearances, was disappointed that manager Kevin Cash didn’t allow him to get the last out. Emilio Pagan recorded the one-out save.

“Obviously, a little angry,” Yarbrough told MLB.com afterward. “But I think (Cash) would want me to be. I think he would want me to want to finish it. I don’t think I have any ill-will about it or anything. Obviously, Emilio came in and did a great job, and we won the ballgame and got a series sweep against a team that beat us up last year.”

Cash said he was simply playing the percentages. Power hitter Domingo Santana was due up, though Pagan wound up facing pinch-hitter Omar Narvaez.

“The thought process, simply in that inning, is that we knew Santana was coming up third … liked the better matchup with Pagan,” Cash said. “Very difficult decision, given obviously with what Yarbs provided for us. But felt like that was to give us the best chance to win.”

Yarbrough has been one of the league’s best surprises. He’s solidified the staff by going 6-0 with three no-decisions in his last nine appearances.

In his only career outing against Detroit, he pitched three scoreless innings of relief and recorded a victory.

The Tigers will counter with veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who will be activated from the 10-day IL. He wound up there earlier this month with a right cervical spasm. He received a nerve-blocking injection and the results have been positive.

“I’ve been playing catch (long toss out to 120 feet) the last couple of days and it feels good,” he told the Detroit News this week. “I just took some days off (five) and let the shot do its work. Then ramp it back up pretty quickly.”

Zimmermann (1-8, 7.13 ERA) allowed four runs on six hits in six innings to Texas on Aug. 4 prior to the IL stint. He’s 1-2 with a 3.95 ERA in seven career starts against Tampa Bay.

The Tigers won the series opener 2-0 on Friday night, getting a 10-game road trip off to a promising beginning. Rookie right fielder Travis Demeritte led the offense with two hits and a run scored. Joe Jimenez survived a shaky ninth for his third save since previous closer Shane Greene was dealt to Atlanta.

“We made a lot of really good plays out there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ve talked about it. These guys are right there, trying to get into the playoffs and all those things. We have to rise to the occasion. You learn from these games, playing a team like that, that’s relentless. A great win to start this road trip, a tough road trip.”

–Field Level Media

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