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Stoic Simon just keeps winning for Tigers

Righty becomes American League's first four-game winner in 2015

DETROIT -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus took a look at Alfredo Simon as he was preparing to take the field Saturday afternoon.

"Right before we run out on the field, first thing, he's like, 'Man, Simon looks nervous.' Being sarcastic," catcher Alex Avila said.

The look from Simon at the time was the same look Ausmus and Avila saw as Simon worked through the middle of the Indians' lineup in the sixth inning after a Michael Brantley leadoff double, a potential rally in the making for Tiger killer Brandon Moss.

He took a look at Cleveland's two-homer, seven-RBI monster from Friday night, looked in at Avila, then pounded Moss inside to set him up for a splitter and a strikeout with Brantley on third and one out. It was one of the biggest outs of the game, and it was business as usual for him.

"He just … he just doesn't look like he breaks a sweat out there," Ausmus said. "I saw him get mad at himself on one pitch today, and that's the first emotion I've seen him show since he got to Spring Training."

Ausmus couldn't remember the pitch. Avila could. It was Simon's 27th and final batter, with No. 9 batter Jose Ramirez up and a runner on first base in the seventh inning.

"He fell behind 3-0," Avila said, "and on that 2-0 pitch that he fell behind 3-0, I could tell that he was a little like, 'Let's go,' and then he locked it back in and was able to throw a strike and get him to pop up. …

"To be honest with you, I haven't caught anybody like Simon. He's unique."

Simon also has a perfect record as a Tiger. With 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in Saturday's 4-1 win over the Indians, Simon became the first Tiger to win his first four starts in a season since Frank Tanana in 1988. He also became the first four-game winner in the American League this season.

He's not too affected by that, either.

"I don't even look at that," Simon said, "because the ERA and the wins, sometimes you pitch a good game and you don't win. Every time I go out there I just try and do my job, try to win the game. Everything worked really good today and I'm happy."

Facing a lefty-loaded Indians lineup for the second time in as many weeks, Simon didn't complicate the approach. He just improved the finish. He had a two-hit shutout through five innings in Cleveland before five consecutive hits knocked him out of the game.

This time, he took a three-run lead into the sixth inning, his lone run allowed on a Brantley RBI grounder through the right side. Half of the six hits Simon allowed came from Brantley, but the three batters behind him -- Carlos Santana, Moss and David Murphy -- were 1-for-8 with a walk combined off Simon.

"He was just playing catch, like normal," Ausmus said. "He had the same pitches working. I would say the split was effective, probably a little bit more effective last outing, he still had it at times. He got big swings and misses with it. I thought he threw more fastballs today than he had last outing."

Ausmus compares Simon's game to a game of catch. Avila had a different comparison.

"It's like he's playing Wiffle ball out there," he said. "Nothing will affect him."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.
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