(Sports Network) – Before today’s finale against Detroit, former Tiger greats — and current Diamondback coaches — Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell will witness the honoring of the memory of legendary Tigers manager Sparky Anderson.
After that, it will be back to business as usual with Gibson’s Arizona club looking for a series victory in the rubber match of a three-game set at Comerica Park.
Prior to the game, the Tigers will retire the No. 11 worn by Anderson, who passed away last November at the age of 76. Anderson’s number will be just the seventh retired in club history and he becomes the 10th person, and only second manager, to have his number retired by more than one major league club.
Gibson, Arizona’s current manager, and Trammell, the bench coach, were both members of Detroit’s 1984 World Series-winning club that was managed by Anderson.
“You get locked in what you’re doing,” Trammell told Detroit’s website, “but I’m very happy to be a part of it. I think Gibby is happy, I know he is, that we’ll be able to smile and think about him. It would be better for him to be here and we could hear his words, but it’s like Tiger Stadium. I have the memories of Sparky … that nobody can take away. And that’s special.”
After the festivities are over, Gibson and Trammell must find a way to get Arizona’s bats going following yesterday’s 6-0 defeat at the hands of Detroit ace Justin Verlander.
Verlander struck out a career-high 14 batters over eight scoreless innings and become the second player in the majors to reach the 10-win mark. He allowed just four hits and one walk as Detroit rebounded from Friday’s 7-6 defeat to move into a virtual tie with Cleveland for first place in the American League Central.
“It’s not a goal of mine to have 10 wins before the break,” said Verlander, who hasn’t lost since April 27 and threw a no-hitter on May 7. “I just go out there every five days and pitch and do everything I can to help this team win.”
Alex Avila also helped, highlighting a four-RBI game with a three-run homer.
Gerardo Parra had a pair of doubles for the Diamondbacks, who failed to win a fifth straight game and also saw their seven-game road winning streak halted.
Arizona rookie starter Josh Collmenter had his homecoming game spoiled in six- plus innings. The Homer, Michigan native gave up six runs on 10 hits and fanned four with many of his hometown fans in attendance.
“I made a couple bad pitches,” Collmenter said. “Singles are OK, but the double and home run hurt me. I just left some of the pitches over the plate.”
Now a half-game behind the Giants for first place in the NL West, the D-Backs turn to Joe Saunders, who despite an ominous start to his last outing can win a second straight appearance this afternoon.
Saunders was taken deep on his first pitch of Tuesday’s outing versus the Royals, but settled down to finish with a line of two runs over seven innings to claim a 7-2 triumph. The lefty improved to 4-2 in his past six starts and 4-7 with a 4.35 earned run average in 15 starts this season.
“You don’t like to see a game started that way, with a home run,” Gibson told his team’s website. “But he settled down and pitched a good game, gave us seven strong innings.”
A former Angels hurler, the 30-year-old Saunders is just 1-2 with a 5.91 ERA in eight career starts against the Tigers.
After suffering a loss against one former team, Tigers right-hander Brad Penny will look to extend his domination of the club that drafted him back in 1996.
Penny was nabbed in the fifth round by the Diamondbacks, but never pitched in the majors with the club. He has made them pay ever since, going 10-3 with a 1.99 ERA in 18 career starts against them.
The 31-year-old will look to continue that success today and avoid a fourth straight winless start. Penny has lost each of his last two decisions, including a 4-0 loss against his former Dodgers club on Monday in which he gave up two runs on seven hits and three walks over six innings. Still, it was a better effort than his previous outing, when he lasted just 3 1/3 frames in a no-decision against the Indians on June 15.
Penny is just 5-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 15 starts this season, but does hold a 2011 home record of 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA in eight games.
Arizona has won 16 of 21 as the guest since a 5-13 start on the road and is also 8-3 versus the AL this season. The D-Backs did lose two of three at Detroit in late June a season ago.