Entering action Wednesday, Knebel has made two appearances for the Tigers. He gave up three runs in one inning against the Texas Rangers on Saturday, but he then followed that up with two scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics on Monday.
Perhaps he wasn't as star-struck by his opponents the second time around.
"[Adrian] Beltre was one of the guys I faced," Knebel said. "I grew up playing video games with these guys. It's my first time, and here I am facing guys I had been playing with in video games."
Knebel, 22, barely got his feet wet with Triple-A Toledo before getting the call to help a depleted bullpen. He appeared in three games, throwing four scoreless innings, with the Mud Hens after he was promoted from Double-A Erie, where he started the season.
"I was much more relaxed this last time," Knebel said. "This time it didn't matter who was up, I was just facing a hitter."
The A's already led, 6-0, when Knebel entered the game. His approach was as if the game were tied.
"Every run counts," he said. "I went in there trying to put up zeroes so we'd have a chance to come back. I went in to see if I could throw strikes and blank everything else out."