Detroit Tigers new addition Jose Urena becoming reliable

When the Detroit Tigers signed right-hander Jose Urena for a year to a $ 3.25 million deal this off-season, General Manager Al Avila’s decision was met with skepticism.

Recall that for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, the 29-year-old had an ERA of 5.25 for the Miami Marlins. More importantly, one-year jug ​​rentals don’t often work in Detroit’s favor – they seem to spend more time on the casualty list than they do on the rotation. And Avila has not turned trading jugs for gold mines at close of trading in the past.

“Jose has a great ability to navigate a line-up and limit damage while his team stays in the game,” Avila said when the signing became official in late December. “That is exactly the stability that we are looking for for the 2021 season.” “

After two rocky starts, Urena is starting to live up to those expectations.

He has done well in two consecutive starts – against the Oakland Athletics on April 16 and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. He threw seven innings of a two run ball in each of these competitions. Even so, the Tigers lost 4-2 to the Pirates at Comerica Park and lost six of their last seven games.

“We had some opportunities to beat the strike zone against them,” said manager AJ Hinch after losing the three-game series. “I thought he did a good job. That made him very efficient. He had a few short innings.”

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Detroit Tigers' starter Jose Urena (62) will face the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park in Detroit on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

On Thursday, Urena gave up two runs with five hits and one walk with two strikeouts in his seven innings. The offense resulted in a moderate two runs, and the bullpen – especially Jose Cisnero and Gregory Soto – wasted his dominance by allowing two runs in the eighth inning.

The Tigers lost 3-0 against the A’s last week. Urena knocked out eight batters and allowed two runs with seven hits and two walks. Once again the offense could not support him.

Urena fought the pirates and only needed 89 pitches (52 strokes) to cross: 20 pitches in the first inning, 12 in the second, 14 in the third, 13 in the fourth, 13 in the fifth, five in the sixth, and 12 in the seventh. He gave up his two runs in the first inning on two RBI singles but never stumbled again.

“I got it into my head that I have to stop these guys,” said Urena. “We tried to get out quickly and be aggressive in the strike zone. If I do all of this and try to attack, we can take advantage of that.”

Urena threw 38 sinkers, 22 sliders, 22 fastballs with four seams and seven changes. He got eight swings and misses – three with his sinker, three with his slider, and two with his four-seater. He added 12 so-called strikes.

The movement and command of his power sinker and state-of-the-art slider helped him force 10 ground ball outs.

“I feel pretty good,” said Urena. “But that’s something we like to do together. Everyone puts something in, like defensive and offensive. Everyone tries to do their best and find out like quick outs and trying to make a game. That makes me feel good. “

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Akil Baddoo of Detroit Tigers after the doubles against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday April 22, 2021 at Comerica Park.

But the Tigers’ offensive collapsed at one of the game’s greatest moments. Rule 5 Draft Pick Akil Baddoo was on second base when JaCoby Jones – who linked the score to a homer in the fifth inning – pulled out the middle with an out in the seventh inning.

It should have been the starting shot.

Until Baddoo hesitated in his jump to the third base.

The third base coach, Chip Hale, had to stop him from turning the corner and running towards home plate. The next two batters – Robbie Grossman and Willi Castro – flew out with Baddoo on the third base.

The newcomer’s miscue stopped the momentum.

“We didn’t play enough winnable games,” said Hinch. “You give them a little extra opportunity here or there, or an extra 90 feet here or there, it comes back to bite you a bit. We played some of those tight games that we lost in, you can go back to Execution. Who gives 90 feet or who gives an out or an extra pitch? “

Despite the mistakes, Urena was still excellent for the second year in a row. If he repeats his success from his last two starts, the Tigers won’t complain about their free agent addition from last winter.

And neither do the fans.

“When we signed him we wanted him to eat a few innings but be good too,” said Hinch. “It’s one thing to be able to throw 100 pitches. You come in May and June, he’s going to throw 100, 110, 115, whatever it is. That’s one thing to be able to log those innings. He’s got that in the made. ” Past.

“We want him to be good, get the ball on the ground and let us play behind him. We want it to stay that way because as a veteran he can have an impact on our club.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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