ANAHEIM -- Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge has had more highlight catches than he can count over the course of his career, but as best he can remember, he had never had a juggling catch until Monday night.Inge said he saw Jeff Mathis' seventh-inning popup on the way up, then saw catcher Alex Avila signal that he had no idea where it was going, so he took off after it behind home plate. "I knew I was coming close to where the weighted bats were [around the on-deck circle]," Inge said, "so I had to look down and see where they were. I looked up and couldn't find it. I saw it probably the last 20 feet down." He saw it the entire way once it popped out of his glove, which allowed him to reach for it and bring it back in. Inge had Tuesday's game off ahead of Wednesday afternoon's series finale, part of manager Jim Leyland effort to rest some of his hitters during the quick turnaround from night game to day game. Don Kelly started at third on Tuesday.
V-Mart's family staying on top of Final Vote
ANAHEIM -- Victor Martinez has been keeping loose tabs on the All-Star Final Vote balloting, but hasn't been entranced by it. He has regular-season games to worry about before he can think about the All-Star Game.His family, on the other hand, keeps looking for updates. "My wife is paying more attention," Martinez said. "She keeps telling me she's getting a lot of text messages." Their 6-year-old son, Victor Jose, meanwhile, keeps asking whether they're going to the All-Star Game. If big Victor can overtake Paul Konerko at the ballot box by Thursday afternoon, then they'll get to enjoy the Midsummer Classic. If not, Martinez said they'll spend the break at home in Orlando. Little Victor has not been doing a lot of online voting, big Victor said. His son spends a lot more time playing outdoors than inside on a computer, he said.
Leyland earns another ejection
ANAHEIM -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland was ejected by first-base umpire Joe West after an argument brought West to the railing of the Tigers dugout before the top of the seventh inning against the Angels on Tuesday.Justin Verlander had just retired the Angels in the bottom of the sixth inning when West and Leyland started exchanging words. West drew closer and closer to Leyland, who was in the Tigers dugout at the time, until West was at the railing and picking up the argument. Eventually, West made the motion and ejected Leyland, who was tossed eight days ago in a highlight-worthy argument with Ed Rapuano over his correction of a missed call with help from home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez. West was at first base for a controversial call in the second inning that arguably cost the Tigers a run. Howard Kendrick hit a ground ball in the hole to Jhonny Peralta with one out in the second, but West ruled that Kendrick beat Peralta's throw to first. Replays indicated first baseman Victor Martinez had the ball before Kendrick stepped on the bag.
Erick Aybar's ensuing double drove in Kendrick. It was the only run Tigers starter Justin Verlander allowed through the first seven innings of his duel with Angels ace Dan Haren.
Ironically, Leyland wrote the check for the fine handed down by Major League Baseball for the argument with Rapuano before the game in his office at Angel Stadium.Leyland and West had briefly exchanged words Monday night over a call at second base, with West seemingly pursuing the conversation while Leyland was walking back toward his dugout. Once Leyland was ejected Tuesday, he followed West back into the field of play before fellow umpire Chad Fairchild separated them.
Boesch exits after fouling ball off knee
ANAHEIM -- Tigers left fielder Brennan Boesch left Tuesday's game against Angels in the second inning, soon after he fouled a ball off the inside of his right knee. He is listed as day to day with a right knee contusion.Boesch was batting against Dan Haren with two outs and Austin Jackson on base when he fouled the pitch and collapsed to the ground in pain. He got up with help from head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and got back into the batter's box after a couple of minutes. Once Boesch grounded out to end the inning, he went back into the dugout and down the steps into the visiting clubhouse. Andy Dirks replaced him in left field for the bottom of the inning. Any loss of Boesch for an extended period of time would be a big loss for the Tigers, who have enjoyed a more balanced since he heated up in June. His .309 average for the season cracked the American League's Top 10 entering Tuesday, thanks to a .398 average over his last 30 games. Boesch entered the night with a 10-game hitting streak, during which he was batting .378 (14-for-37).
Knapp making most of time away
ANAHEIM -- Rick Knapp spent his Fourth of July away from a ballfield for the first time since he was 4 years old, by his estimation. He's going to head home to Florida and help his daughter move into an apartment, something he wouldn't have had a chance to do as Tigers pitching coach. He'll watch his son pitch this summer, something he was never able to do in his old gig.He's making the most of the time on his hands since the Tigers replaced him on Sunday. But the coach in him still feels that pull, still to the team that parted ways in midseason. "I'm going to see my son pitch this summer, which is something I never would've been able to do [otherwise]," Knapp said Tuesday afternoon in a telephone interview back in Michigan. "So I'm really happy that I'm able to do that. [But] I didn't want to do that." Whether the argument holds that the coaching arrangement with Knapp as pitching coach wasn't working, nobody can question the effort that Knapp put in. The hours could be "brutal," Knapp admitted, but it came with the territory. So, he said, did the blame for the Tigers' recent struggles. If the Tigers weren't in a must-win mode this season, if there weren't so many key officials without contracts past this season -- starting with manager Jim Leyland and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski -- it might well have been a different scenario. But he knows the business. "Deflect all the credit," Knapp said, "and take all the blame." He tried to deflect the credit on Justin Verlander, calling him an "unbelievable talent." That said, Knapp inherited Verlander coming off an American League-high 17 losses in 2008 and watched him post a 48-21 record and 618 strikeouts over 600 innings since, entering Verlander's start Tuesday at Angel Stadium. He allowed himself some credit on other guys. "With the struggles that [Joaquin] Benoit had early in the season, I'm happy we had an impact on him," Knapp said. "[Al] Alburquerque, too. ... "But I'm equally as disappointed that I didn't hold the key to Rick Porcello. It really is dissatisfying that I couldn't help Rick be better. And I can't say that sits well with me." He was also frustrated about Max Scherzer's recent struggles. High-scoring losses aside, Knapp had a couple key stats he could look at with pride. Out of Detroit's 45 wins entering Tuesday, 10 were on shutouts, either individually -- Verlander pitched two, starting with his no-hitter May 7 -- or as a team. And despite the routs they suffered last week, Detroit pitching allowed four runs or less in 47 of their first 86 games. "I'm not out to badmouth or blame anybody," Knapp said. "They told me that they were unhappy because the pitching staff was underperforming. And I can't disagree with that, to some degree." In the end, it's the future that has him disappointed more so than the past. "The fact that I'm probably most disappointed in," Knapp said, "is that I'm not going to be able to see this team, that I'm not going to be able to get on the dogpile at the end of the season, when we win the division. ... "I wish those guys the best. I think [new pitching coach] Jeff [Jones] is going to be great."
Tigers' top prospect holds down Harper
ANAHEIM -- Tigers top prospect Jacob Turner held highly touted Nationals prospect Bryce Harper hitless in their Double-A battle between Erie and Harrisburg. But Harper's teammates handed Turner a loss, roughing him up for seven runs on nine hits over seven innings in the SeaWolves' 7-3 defeat Tuesday night in Harrisburg.Harper, promoted to Double-A just this week, drove in a run on a groundout as part of his team's four-run opening inning. Turner held down Harrisburg from there until giving up a three-run seventh. Harper grounded out three more times, all against Turner. Harper helped make amends with a pair of outfield assists, throwing out Rawley Bishop and Brandon Douglas trying to stretch singles into doubles. The next time Turner pitches, he and Harper will be teammates. They're scheduled to take part in the All-Star Futures Game Sunday afternoon at Chase Field in Phoenix.