DETROIT -- Prior to Tuesday's game, Justin Verlander and Alex Avila were honored for their part in Verlander's no-hitter on May 7 in Toronto.
Tigers owner Mike Illitch was on hand to present the pair with commemorative awards, celebrating the seventh no-hitter in Tigers history. Verlander and former Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez were presented with similar awards after Verlander's first no-hitter in 2007.
Earlier this season, after the no-hitter in Toronto, Verlander bought Avila a watch with the date and "No-hitter" engraved on it.
Schlereth takes responsibility for struggles
DETROIT -- It was understandable how down Daniel Schlereth felt after Tuesday's 14-3 loss to the Mets.
Schlereth gave up six earned runs on four hits, but it was the two grand slams in the fourth and fifth innings that left a mark. He had given up four runs (three earned) in the last five appearances prior to Tuesday. He has been mostly used as a lefty specialist, but with as many as four left-handed pitchers in the Tigers' bullpen in recent weeks, Tigers manager Jim Leyland felt he hadn't given Schlereth enough opportunities to stay sharp.
But Schlereth put the blame on himself.
"It's not his fault," Schlereth said. "I've got to make pitches. Today was just a strange day for all of us, I think -- probably me the most. I guess that's how the game is. There's no excuses for anything like that. It wasn't [Leyland's] fault. It was a bad game today."
Coming into Tuesday, left-handed batters were hitting .182 against Schlereth, and Mets lefty hitters went 0-for-3, with two strikeouts and one hit batter, in the loss. It was the right-handed hitters going 4-for-5 with two walks that caused Schlereth's problems. Right-handers had an on-base percentage of .418 against him heading into Tuesday.
"It's just with right-handers right now, I'm struggling," he said. "I don't know exactly what's going on. I'm trying to pitch them in and I'm not getting those for strikes. I'm just struggling with right-handers. Left-handers, I'm doing a pretty good job against them. My command is there, just right-handers are giving me trouble. I've got to figure out a way to do a better job."
After Schlereth talked with the media on Tuesday, pitching coach Rick Knapp came over and put his arm around Schlereth to console him. The two then had a lengthy conversation.
Schlereth has been frustrated with his recent performances, and the 25-year-old will need to look for more consistency.
"I'm going to be upset about it for tonight and probably a little bit tomorrow morning before I get here, and hopefully it'll wear off when I start playing catch and as the game goes on," he said. "You've just got to put it behind you. That's the toughest thing for me to do. I'm pretty hard on myself. It's difficult, but you've got to do it."
Leyland carefully explains objections to call
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland commented on the record Tuesday about the objections and emotions that led to his argument with first-base umpire Ed Rapuano on Monday night. But unlike the argument itself, Leyland was very guarded about what he said.
He knew Andy Dirks was out at first base; that wasn't his problem. His issue was how the umpires came to that call after Rapuano initially called him safe.
"I don't care how it all came down," Leyland said. "My only point was in 48 years of baseball, I have never seen a play where a ground ball that was thrown to the first baseman was called one way and changed. I've never seen that in 48 years. I'm obviously smart enough to know the guy was out. The umpire, by his own admission, said he blew the call.
"My point is he should've been explaining that to [Blue Jays manager] John Farrell, not to me. When John Farrell came out, he should've said, 'I blew the call.' And then John Farrell can handle that accordingly, and they can argue whatever they want."
In other words, though Leyland never outright said it, he shouldn't have consulted with home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez on a play where he had the best view.
"They got the call wrong in getting the call right, in my opinion," Leyland said.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"Ed Rapuano is one of the best umpires in baseball," Leyland said. "He's one of the great guys. I have no issues with him whatsoever. But I was very upset, because I have never seen that in 48 years. I truly have not. I mean, you can open up a real can of worms if you start that stuff."
Rapuano declined comment to reporters before the game. He was the home-plate umpire for Tuesday's series opener.
A comparison could be made with Jim Joyce's controversial call last year that ruled Jason Donald safe at first and broke up Armando Galarraga's bid for a perfect game. Joyce did not appear to have the option of asking another umpire on that play, and admitted afterwards that he made the wrong call.
The counter-argument to that would be the end justifying the means. If umpires are expected to make every effort to get the call right, then Monday's conference could be welcomed.
Tigers' lineup more than the sum of the stats
DETROIT -- A look at the stats shows that the Tigers are third in the Majors in team batting average.
A look at Tuesday's lineup shows why. Five players in the lineup are batting higher than .300. Although the other four players are hitting below .250, Tigers manager Jim Leyland looks beyond the numbers.
"I don't really think about .300," Leyland said. "I think about track records. If you want to win up here, it's a combination of a lot of things."
While starters Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn have been floating around .200 for most of the season, Leyland has felt comfortable plugging in any of his bench players and finding success.
Young outfielders Andy Dirks and Casper Wells are hitting a combined .245 with seven home runs and both are very good in the outfield.
"This has been one of my most fun, because I think we can plug guys in that can do a pretty good job," Leyland said. "I think we have pretty good versatility."
Since returning from the disabled list on June 15, Magglio Ordonez has added a veteran presence to the lineup. Ordonez is hitting .265 (9-for-34) since returning and has had several hard-hit line drives snagged by diving infielders. Leyland said he will rest Ordonez on Thursday -- a day game after a night game -- but feels he can move him anywhere in the lineup.
"I feel comfortable hitting Magglio third, I feel comfortable hitting him sixth," Leyland said. "It works out pretty good. You pick your spots to hit him third and you pick your spots to pick him sixth."
Along with the offensive versatility, playing different lineups gets more players involved and helps build the team morale, Leyland said. Last season, the Tigers lost Brandon Inge, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez in a five-day span. Leyland said it is important to keep all his players sharp because he never knows when they could be called upon in a big spot.
"If those guys get chances to play and something happens and you need them, they have some at-bats, you keep them sharp," Leyland said. "Plus I think it's best for the team concept. I think it's important for Don Kelly to have you guys talk to him once in a while about doing something good, or Dirks, or Wells. I think that's important. I think that's all good tonic for a team."
Alburquerque available out of Tigers' bullpen
DETROIT -- The Tigers had everyone in their bullpen available Tuesday. That included Al Alburquerque, who pitched four outs Sunday for his second win in as many outings.
His past four appearances have lasted four outs or longer, and they've been followed by varying degrees of rest. His last two each came on three days' rest, including last Wednesday's win at Dodger Stadium with 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
It's a delicate balance for the Tigers with Alburquerque, who has thrown 14 scoreless innings over his last 13 appearances with five hits, eight walks and 23 strikeouts. They want his arm out there as much as possible, but they also don't want to risk overusing him and burning him out, or risking more soreness in his elbow.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland indicated there's no set schedule or limitations for him.
"He's been so valuable and his pitch count is up enough that I can't really pitch him two days [in a row] right now," Leyland said. "If he goes out there the next time out and throws 12-15 pitches, he'll be able to pitch the next day. It's not that I don't want to pitch him back-to-back [days]; I do. But if his pitch count gets up, I'm not going to do something foolish."
Alburquerque said Tuesday that his arm feels fine. He had complained about some soreness two weeks ago.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.