It is not clear whether closer Joaquin Benoit will be available Thursday afternoon for the Detroit Tigers. With the way the Chicago White Sox are playing it's not clear the Tigers will need him. But Tigers manager Jim Leyland was clearly not thrilled that he felt he had to use Benoit for a second consecutive game Wednesday night in a 6-2 victory over the White Sox. The Tigers entered the ninth inning with a 6-1 lead. Luke Putkonen who was pitching for the first time since July 13 allowed a home run to Dayan Viciedo with the second pitch he threw in the inning. He retired Josh Phegley before Leyland replaced him with Phil Coke who allowed a single to Alejandro De Aza the only batter he faced. In came Benoit to clean up the mess just as he did the not before when Al Alburquerque walked the first two batters in the ninth with the Tigers holding a 6-0 lead. Leyland is always careful not to overuse Benoit. One question about Benoit's availability for Thursday during Leyland's postgame session with the media Wednesday night was the impetus for a 90-second statement on the current state of the bullpen beyond Benoit Drew Smyly and Bruce Rondon who has been solid lately but struggled a bit Wednesday night. "I'm not sure about that just yet" Leyland said when asked about Benoit's availability. "Obviously he didn't throw many pitches. But I've got to be careful. That's one thing we've got to stop doing. We've got to start getting through that inning without having to use him all the time. We just have to do that because if we don't we're not going to have a closer before it's over with because he's going to be worn out. You can't do that. "We've got to get some of our guys to get some outs. With four- five- six-run leads in the ninth inning you've got to have some guys get some outs without using Benoit. That's just as simple as it is. Obviously in defense of Putkonen he hasn't pitched in quite a while but at some point you've got to be ready and that's part of that job. He got a big out for us in the ninth. Then we didn't get the left-handed hitter. "That's what I'm saying. We've got to get those outs because you can't be bringing the closer in all the time like that. You can't do it. It won't work. But I don't want to sound like I'm upset. I'm not. I'm just making a point. It's as simple as it is. You've got an opportunity to get Benoit off tonight and you've got a day game tomorrow and we can't get through that. We've got to get through that. It's as simple as it is. "We didn't do it last night. We didn't do it again tonight. That's just not acceptable. You've just got to do better than that. Like I said I'm not upset at anybody. But that's the facts of life. That's why I tell you guys all the time that entire bullpen is huge. Getting outs like that in a 6-1 6-0 game that's huge for you. You've got to get those."
Leyland laments being forced to use Benoit again in blowout: 'That's just not acceptable'
Michigan Live | Jul 25