ARLINGTON -- Brennan Boesch's last home run last season was a go-ahead shot in the eighth inning off Rangers reliever Mike Adams, who had just come over from the Padres at the Trade Deadline, to earn a major win. That was an eight-pitch at-bat with four consecutive 0-2 pitches fouled off.
Boesch's pinch-hit at-bat in the ninth inning of a tie game against the Rangers on Saturday lasted one pitch, a slider inside that broke Boesch's bat as he hit it on the ground to the right side. It was still hit hard enough that first baseman Mitch Moreland had a force play at home plate to retire Miguel Cabrera, who went on contact but didn't have the speed to force a rushed throw.
Manager Jim Leyland said hitting coach Lloyd McClendon talked with Boesch before the at-bat once Adams entered.
"Mac told Boesch exactly what Adams was going to do," Leyland said, "and he swung at a bad pitch. He threw in on him to tie him up, and that's what he did. That happens. Had he got it out over the plate, he might have smoked it. You have to look for a pitch in that situation that you can drive. He got antsy, and [Adams] cut the ball in on him.
"It wasn't a bad, bad ball, but it was probably a ball."
Boesch had three more first-pitch groundouts on Sunday against right-hander Yu Darvish, who jammed him on cutters in back-to-back at-bats to strand runners on base after Prince Fielder had walked twice.
Boesch went 0-for-7 for the series. The quick outs, in particular, were a major contrast to last Tuesday, when he saw 21 pitches over two at-bats against Phil Hughes.
"He's struggling right now," Leyland said after Sunday's game. "I don't know what to do with him, because he's fighting himself. He gets mad when we talk about relaxing, but he's just fighting himself."
Boesch, by the way, is now 3-for-15 with two walks and two strikeouts for his Major League career as a pinch-hitter. He's 1-for-5 in each of his three big league seasons.
Villarreal to undergo exam for elbow weakness
ARLINGTON -- Brayan Villarreal went to the mound Sunday for the second time in less than 24 hours in an effort to put Saturday night's loss out of his memory. Turns out he has bigger worries on his mind, the way his elbow is feeling.
It's just weakness at this point, not pain, and he was at least able to get through 18 pitches Sunday. Still, it's a worry for the Tigers, who have been trying to figure out Villarreal's on-again, off-again control and will now have his elbow checked out.
"You've got to find out the health issue. That's No. 1," manager Jim Leyland said. "Eventually you find out if he's OK. I don't know. He's not throwing good right now.
"He's gotten out of kilter right now for some reason. I don't have the answer to what that reason is, but you have to be able to do that up here. You have to be able to come back the next day and pitch because you're not going to use the other guys behind three runs. That's why we needed an inning from him."
Villarreal said he first felt some weakness after the All-Star break, when he was sidelined for the series in Baltimore. It went away, but apparently resurfaced in recent days.
"I felt like it was inflammation," Villarreal said. "It was weak, but I'm not sure what I've got. They're going to check me tomorrow."
That examination will take place in Minneapolis, where the Tigers have three games coming up against the Twins.
Villarreal took the loss against the Rangers on Saturday night after walking his first two batters in the ninth inning of a tie game. Leyland brought him back Sunday in an effort to get him past that but watched him give up two runs on as many hits with two wild pitches, all while retiring only one batter.
Leyland firm in stance against expanded rosters
ARLINGTON -- In case you haven't heard it in previous years, Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't a fan of expanded September rosters.
"I've been really adamant about that, really a stickler on it," Leyland said. "When I have that meeting with the Commissioner [as part of the special committee for on-field matters], I talk about that all the time."
Leyland said the committee talked about a rule change that would allow for expanded rosters in September but limit teams to a certain number of active players, kind of like the NHL's system with healthy scratches. That rule, however, never came into play.
"I was hoping they would do something like that," Leyland said. "Myself, if everybody went to 28, that wouldn't bother me at all. I think that's fine. That's just my feeling, but any manager who does a pretty good job of managing all year, and then at the biggest month of the year, he loses some of his ability to maneuver."
In other words, managers who play the matchups well from April through August suddenly have that advantage neutralized in September against a team with a deep roster. That's what gets to Leyland.
Schlereth adds scoreless inning in rehab stint
ARLINGTON -- Tigers reliever Daniel Schlereth tossed a scoreless inning despite two walks Saturday night for Class A Lakeland, raising the total from his Minor League rehab assignment to 3 1/3 innings of one-run ball on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
He is not close to a return to the big leagues. The next step in his rehab from left shoulder tendinitis is expected to be a step up to another Minor League level, much like Al Alburquerque did in his rehab assignment.
That doesn't rule out a closing stretch in the big leagues for Schlereth, who could give Detroit a situational left-hander if he's commanding his pitches better than his early-season stint before he was injured, and probably better than the stats suggest he did on Saturday. Given the roster situation, though, that promotion might not come until rosters expand in September.
Schlereth could still conceivably make the postseason roster under that scenario, since he was on the Major League roster earlier this season and then went onto the disabled list in the big leagues, not Triple-A.
Spirit of '76: Throwbacks jog Leyland's memory
ARLINGTON -- The throwback jerseys the Tigers were wearing Saturday were a design that dates to their 1976 road jerseys. Manager Jim Leyland was coaching in the Tigers' organization, but not in the big leagues. He was managing a prospect-heavy roster at Class A Lakeland, where he had just been promoted.
There's a mark in the manager's office in the clubhouse there to denote his presence back then. It's a Ty Cobb picture with a tear at the bottom that has been taped up. The wound, and the tape that holds it together, dates to Leyland in 1976.
"[That] was the year I spiked Ty Cobb," Leyland said. "The picture's still there with the Scotch tape still on it. That's hard to believe that it's still there."
Leyland remembers how he did it, too.
"I was ticked off after a game and I threw my spike," Leyland said. "And it flew and got the Ty Cobb picture and sliced him up a little bit. ... It wasn't the smartest thing to do."
Despite the Tigers' struggles with the bases loaded and nobody out over the last few days, they entered Sunday batting .301 with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break, second among American League teams behind only the Yankees. For the season, however, Detroit's .202 average with the bases loaded ranks second lowest in the AL ahead of only Cleveland.
The Tigers were filmed on and off the field this weekend by MLB Productions as part of its new weekly show, "Caught Looking," that will premiere Wednesday night on the NBC Sports Network. The show is intended to provide a behind-the-scenes look at contending teams during big series in the middle of a playoff race, following players as they head to the park, taking batting practice and prepare for games. The Tigers and Rangers will be featured in the debut episode.