Alburquerque continues to pick up steam
Tigers reliever's velocity up, and performance level has followed suit
DETROIT -- The Tigers were down four runs to the Twins by the time Al Alburquerque took the mound Wednesday night. His inning gave some hope that he'll be a presence again when the games are close.
After a miserable mid-April stretch and a sinus infection that left him out of sorts, Alburquerque turned in his fifth straight scoreless outing Wednesday. More importantly, he's been pitching better, reaching 95-96 mph on his fastball while showing improved bite on his slider.
Alburquerque threw 10 of 17 pitches for strikes. His two swings and misses were more than he drew in his previous three outings combined.
"He was good," manager Brad Ausmus said. "His last two outings have been good."
The improvement comes after Alburquerque and pitching coach Jeff Jones worked on some mechanical tweaks, among them an adjustment to quicken his delivery with runners on base. They also worked on sharpening his slider. His velocity, which was down a couple ticks last month, seems to have rebounded naturally as the weather has warmed up.
Speaking of Tigers pitchers trying to rebound:
• Justin Verlander is scheduled to throw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Friday in St. Louis, Ausmus said. It would be his second session off a mound this week, having thrown 25 pitches on Tuesday at Comerica Park. Verlander has been on the DL all season with a right triceps strain.
• Bruce Rondon is also scheduled to throw a bullpen session, according to Ausmus, but it won't be in St. Louis. The reliever, on the 15-day DL since Opening Day with biceps tendinitis, is not scheduled to make the trip with the team.
• Ryan Perry continued on the comeback trail with Triple-A Toledo Wednesday, tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings on two hits with a strikeout in a 1-0 loss at Rochester. The former Tigers first-round pick, signed to a Minor League deal in Spring Training, has 3 2/3 scoreless innings with the Mud Hens and 6 2/3 scoreless innings over four appearances overall.