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Castellanos lone offensive bright spot in loss

Outfielder drives in both runs in series-opening defeat to Twins
MLB.com @beckjason

MINNEAPOLIS -- The question to Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire about his bullpen quandary had just started when his cellphone began blaring.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," the Kelly Clarkson ringtone began echoing through the small, crowded visiting manager's office at Target Field.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The question to Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire about his bullpen quandary had just started when his cellphone began blaring.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," the Kelly Clarkson ringtone began echoing through the small, crowded visiting manager's office at Target Field.

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"You guys gotta get out," Gardenhire said. "It's Al Avila."

Gardenhire did not clear out the room, instead jokingly asking his general manager if he wanted to go on speaker.

Video: DET@MIN: Machado lays out to rob Rosario of a hit

Their conversation was put off until later. The theme to Monday's 4-2 loss to the Twins, and arguably this recent stretch as a whole, was set.

"Lot of tough games just like this," Gardenhire said. "We've been in a lot of close games. Gotta figure out a way to make a big pitch, get a big out and get a big hit."

These are the games Gardenhire was brought in to lead the Tigers through, win or lose. He has set a tone, not through his phone in this case, that his team will compete until the last out. But he's also clearly making the best of a tough situation, trying to pull out close games with a bullpen of unproven, unseasoned arms.

Monday marked Detroit's fourth straight loss. Three of those losses have fallen on relievers after the Tigers held leads, the other a close game that broke open against the long end of the Tigers' bullpen. The losing streak followed a game the Tigers arguably stole last Thursday in Seattle with three hitless innings of relief.

Video: DET@MIN: Hardy gets Dozier swinging in the 3rd

Daniel Stumpf threw just two pitches during their four-game series in Seattle, spending most of the time working through his recent struggles. He threw a bullpen session Monday afternoon, fine-tuning his mechanics, then threw in the game Monday night, inheriting a 2-2 game in which Blaine Hardy and Louis Coleman had matched promising young Minnesota starter Jose Berrios, including Coleman stranding the go-ahead run on third by retiring Brian Dozier.

"I'm confident in my pitches," Stumpf said. "I'm not worrying about my last games. I'm not worrying about whatever."

An Eddie Rosario double on a high fastball well out of the strike zone set the Twins' go-ahead rally in motion, but it was a bases-loaded, four-pitch walk to Logan Morrison in a lefty-lefty matchup that brought in the tiebreaking run. Stumpf made some of his best pitches since early in the season, fanning Max Kepler on a 95 mph fastball out of the zone and inducing Rosario to chase a similar pitch in a 1-2 count, but it didn't yield better results for him.

Video: DET@MIN: Gardenhire comes back to Minnesota

This is the situation Gardenhire tries to manage, trying to guide Stumpf through extended struggles. He tries to pick and choose his spots, but with Hardy in the rotation for at least another turn, Stumpf is currently the lone lefty in Detroit's bullpen.

"With lefties, the only one out there, you don't really get good situations," Gardenhire said. "You have to come in and get lefties out. He had to go through a couple righties, too. He's just got to get the job done. That's the bottom line, and he just didn't get it done tonight. He walked too many people.

"That's the place where he's supposed to get outs. There's some lefties, some righties, but he's gotta get through that area. It just didn't work out."

Rosario then fooled center fielder Leonys Martin into a costly hesitation for an insurance run on Robbie Grossman's sacrifice fly.

In times like this, awkward as that sudden phone call might be, it was fitting.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Castellanos builds Tigers lead: Both Tigers runs came from Nicholas Castellanos, both times centering first-pitch fastballs from Berrios. His third-inning RBI single came one pitch after Berrios got Martin to hit into a double play, putting him one out away from escaping the jam. Castellanos is batting .357 (20-for-56) over his last 14 games with three home runs and eight RBIs.

Video: DET@MIN: Castellanos collects 2nd RBI with a single

HE SAID IT
"You can figure out that one for yourself. That was not a big league play." -- Gardenhire, on Martin's reaction on Grossman's sacrifice fly

Video: DET@MIN: Grossman plates Rosario on a sacrifice fly

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Twins almost took the lead in the fifth inning, thanks to Eduardo Escobar's two-out single to left that appeared to score Kepler, who was ruled safe on the field after sliding past catcher James McCann's swipe tag. After a 2-minute, 18-second review, replay officials ruled they had enough evidence to overturn the call, earning JaCoby Jones an outfield assist for his strong throw from left.

Video: DET@MIN: Jones nabs Kepler at home on overturned call

UP NEXT
Matthew Boyd (2-3, 3.19) tries to maintain his recent run of stingy pitching as the series continues Tuesday with an 8:10 p.m. ET start at Target Field. Boyd, who credits Hall of Fame inductee and Twins broadcaster Jack Morris with giving him advice on pitch mentality, has quality starts in six of his eight outings this season. The Twins will send Lance Lynn (1-4, 7.47 ERA) to the mound.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Nicholas Castellanos

Gardy stays loose as he faces his former club

Tigers skipper returns to Minnesota for first time as opposing manager
MLB.com @beckjason

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ron Gardenhire had been preparing for his return to Target Field a week ago, even trying out some of his one-liners.

"I'm trying to get all my friends to sit right behind the dugout," Gardenhire said last week before the Tigers embarked on their current two-city road trip.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Ron Gardenhire had been preparing for his return to Target Field a week ago, even trying out some of his one-liners.

"I'm trying to get all my friends to sit right behind the dugout," Gardenhire said last week before the Tigers embarked on their current two-city road trip.

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The seats at Target Field were empty as Gardenhire talked with reporters in the visitors' dugout Monday afternoon. After 13 years as Twins manager, though, he still had no shortage of familiar faces around him.

"It's always going to be in your history and in your blood," Gardenhire said. "I have a house here. I live here. I love this place. This organization showed me as much as respect as you could get as a coach, player and manager. So you know what, I've always loved this place and it'll never go away. But now I have a job to do with my Tigers boys and it's to whip their butts. That's not going to change. But this place, I have a lot of history here and a lot of great friends."

Video: Gardenhire talks return to Minnesota, time with Twins

This is not Gardenhire's first trip back to the Twin Cities in an opposing uniform. He was here last summer as Diamondbacks bench coach and received a warm reception from fans. This is a little different. He's not just managing again, he's doing so with a division rival.

Gardenhire became a hero in Minnesota in part because his Twins teams tormented the often-favored Tigers for years. Now he's in charge of teaching the Tigers to compete, including against his resurgent former club.

"Sitting in this dugout is a little different when you've been on the other side the whole time," he said.

In some ways, he's trying to establish the same mentality he had to instill with the Twins during his early years managing that young club. In other ways, between analytics and other trends, it's a different job.

Asked if he manages differently now than he did when he started here, however, the one-liner was quick.

"You can second-guess me and let me know," he chuckled. "Just check me out during the game. Go ahead. Been there before. We're just having fun, relaxed, doing the same thing I've always done, being myself. Honest with the players and being up front with the players, telling them exactly what I expect from them. Give a nine-inning effort every day. I'm not going to yell at them when we screw up on the basepaths trying to do something aggressive. We've talked about it.

"You might see us do some crazy things and some good things. But it's baseball. I want them to play. That hasn't changed a bit."

Boyd credits Morris

While Gardenhire was catching up with the Minnesota media, Matthew Boyd was at the other end of the dugout, catching up with Hall of Fame inductee and Twins broadcaster Jack Morris. The two had a long conversation when they attended a Detroit Red Wings game together in January, when they were both in Detroit for TigerFest and the Winter Caravan.

Boyd has credited that conversation with helping him going into what has become a promising season for him.

"I learned a ton," Boyd said. "It was a night I'll never forget, and it was really generous of him just to hang out and talk with me and share his perspective on the game and how he went about his business, what brought him success. Obviously, his mentality was what separated him and really put him in an echelon above the rest, along with the splitter."

Video: DET@SEA: Boyd strikes out career-high 9 in Seattle

Since then, Boyd has noted how similar Morris' ideas are to what Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio has been preaching to the club in his first year on the job.

Boyd, who starts Tuesday against the Twins, is not the first Tigers pitcher to benefit from Morris' teachings. When Morris was part of the broadcast team on some Tigers telecasts in 2003, he talked frequently with Jeremy Bonderman, then a 20-year-old rookie in Detroit's rotation.

"I'm just grateful," Boyd said. "He was an enforcer on the mound. He was in charge. He had a plan and knew exactly what he wanted to do, and he was fearless out there. A lot of valuable lessons I learned just from hanging out at a Red Wings game."

Injury updates

Miguel Cabrera, currently on the 10-day DL with a strained right hamstring, took a few rounds of batting practice with the team before Monday's game, and is scheduled for a more extensive session of early batting practice Tuesday. He still has to run bases and do agility work.

"He's actually feeling really, really good, taking a lot of swings," Gardenhire said. "Just let him go day by day."

Jordan Zimmermann (shoulder impingement) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. He'll have two or three bullpen sessions, Gardenhire said, before going on a Minor League rehab assignment that could last three starts.

"[Bosio] has a program that he's used for a long time, and that's what we're going to go with," Gardenhire said. "But he's feeling great. He's champing [at the bit] right now."

Alex Wilson (ruptured left plantar fascia) ran on the field Monday afternoon and has a bullpen session scheduled for Tuesday.

"I could pitch right now," Wilson said. "I just can't move, can't cover first. I can actually pitch; I just can't field my position, which is unfortunately a big part of it."

Jeimer Candelario (left wrist tendinitis) could begin a rehab assignment soon.

"He's smiling really big," Gardenhire said. "He's feeling really good. We have to decide whether we want to send him down and let him get some at-bats. The smart thing might be to let him get some [game] action, rather than just BP, and take a few swings before we activate him."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

Liriano's gem squandered in extra-inning loss

Veteran lefty takes no-hitter into seventh, allows one hit in eight innings
Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Francisco Liriano deserved better.

The 34-year-old carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and allowed just one hit over eight. It was his longest outing in three years.

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SEATTLE -- Francisco Liriano deserved better.

The 34-year-old carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and allowed just one hit over eight. It was his longest outing in three years.

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But after closer Shane Greene hung a two-strike slider in the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers ultimately got what they deserved Sunday on their way out of Seattle.

Jean Segura sent a 2-2 fastball from Buck Farmer the opposite way into right field to score Dee Gordon with no outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, and the Mariners won 3-2.

The Tigers' bullpen turned a 2-0 lead with one out in the bottom of the ninth into the team's third loss in this four-game weekend series at Safeco Field.

"You get a great performance by Liriano and you've got your closer in the ballgame, that's what you are looking for," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Video: DET@SEA: Kozma snares a hot shot at third in the 4th

Greene replaced Liriano for the ninth, got one out, then allowed Segura's infield single. Greene then threw two quick strikes to Haniger. But with catcher James McCann set up outside, Greene hung an 81-mph slider over the plate. Haniger put that mistake over the left-field wall for his 11th home run of the season, tying the game at 2.

"I couldn't have made a worse pitch at a worse time. And I paid for it," Greene said.

Greene entered Sunday third in the American League with 10 saves. He ended it with his third blown save this season.

Two innings later, Detroit lost for the fourth time in seven games against the Mariners over the last two weekends. At least the Tigers play at Minnesota and not Seattle on Monday.

"Hopefully, the sun comes up tomorrow," Greene said. "And I'll be ready to go."

Farmer has a 10.12 ERA in his last six outings. But he was the victim of bad luck Sunday. Two ground-ball singles beat him.

Gordon hit the first pitch from Farmer (0-3) in the bottom of the 11th through the right side for a single. The Mariners' zooming leadoff hitter got to second by stealing his American League-leading 16th base. Segura then slapped Farmer's two-strike fastball past first baseman John Hicks to win it.

Mariners reliever Nick Vincent (2-1) got the win by allowing a single to Hicks in the top of the 11th then striking out Niko Goodrum looking and McCann swinging.

The recently ineffective Liriano was almost incredible Sunday. Leading 2-0 after Hicks' home run in the first, Liriano allowed only a line-drive single to Haniger with one out in the seventh. It was the 76th of his season-high 102 pitches.

Video: DET@SEA: Hicks belts a 2-run home run to left field

The fifth pitcher born in the Dominican Republic to throw a no-hitter, back in 2011 when he pitched for the Twins, quickly retired Ryon Healy and Kyle Seager following Haniger's hit.

"He did what he had to do," Gardenhire said.

Liriano had slogged through two previous starts, allowing eight total earned runs while lasting just 4 1/3 innings against Cleveland and four innings at Texas. But Sunday, he shined. He walked three, struck out five and continually pitched ahead in counts. He used his slider up and down the strike zone to take advantage of eager Mariners.

"I was trying to get ahead in the count," Liriano said. "They were swinging early in the count, too."

Hicks' fifth home run of the season was his third in two weeks since Cabrera went on the disabled list.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Liriano walked Gordon Beckham one out into the bottom of the eighth. As Mariners pinch-hitter Mike Zunino was announced, Gardenhire walked to the mound. With his entire infield around him there, Liriano, then at 89 pitches, extended his left hand with the ball to give it to his manager, so Gardenhire could bring in reliever Joe Jimenez.

Video: DET@SEA: Liriano carries a no-hitter into the 7th

Gardenhire refused the offer. Instead, he patted the veteran left-hander on the chest.

"Yeah, I thought he was going to take me out," Liriano said. "But he asked me how I felt. I told him I felt good.

"He said, 'Just go get the next guy out.'"

Liriano responded by striking out Zunino looking at a high slider, and Andrew Romine on an 87 mph slider in the dirt. Detroit stayed ahead 2-0.

"We've got a history together," Gardenhire, the Twins manager from 2002-14, said of Liriano's time as a starter for him in Minnesota (2005-12). "He knows that normally when I come out I'm going to get the ball. ... Boz [pitching coach Chris Bosio] was saying he was done. I just thought he had a one-hitter going, and I thought he had enough to get that part of the order out.

"I trusted him. ... He knows me. He knows I have trust in him in those situations."

SOUND SMART
Liriano has allowed three runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts this season. He retired 16 in a row from a walk to Haniger in the first to that lone hit by Haniger in the seventh.

Liriano came within five outs of becoming the first pitcher born in the Dominican Republic to throw more than one no-hitter in his career. He, Juan Marichal (1963), Ramon Martinez (1995), Jose Jimenez (1999) and Ubaldo Jimenez (2010) are the only Dominican natives to throw a no-hitter.

Justin Verlander remains the last Tigers pitcher to throw one, May 7, 2011, at Toronto.

UP NEXT
The Tigers head to Minnesota for a three-game series against the Twins, starting Monday at 8:10 p.m. ET. It will be the first time in Gardenhire's career the former Twins manager has managed games against Minnesota in Minneapolis. Blaine Hardy (0-0, 3.38 ERA) makes his second spot start for injured Jordan Zimmermann. He faces Twins right-hander Jose Berrios (4-4, 4.05).

Gregg Bell is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Detroit Tigers

Cabrera making progress toward return

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Miguel Cabrera continues taking incremental steps toward returning to the Tigers' lineup.

The 35-year-old slugging first baseman rested before Sunday's series finale at the Mariners one day after he took multiple rounds of batting practice at Safeco Field. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the Tigers' plan is for Cabrera to take BP again on Monday as their road trip continues at Minnesota.

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SEATTLE -- Miguel Cabrera continues taking incremental steps toward returning to the Tigers' lineup.

The 35-year-old slugging first baseman rested before Sunday's series finale at the Mariners one day after he took multiple rounds of batting practice at Safeco Field. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the Tigers' plan is for Cabrera to take BP again on Monday as their road trip continues at Minnesota.

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The 11-time All-Star and two-time American League Most Valuable Player has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 4 because of a strained right hamstring. His return from the DL will be contingent on when he can show the Tigers he is able to run and field ground balls on the move without pain. He might not be able to make those strides until well into the coming week, at the earliest.

"He did fine. He took two groups' worth of [BP on Saturday]," Gardenhire said. "He was feeling pretty goosy. The big key is how he comes back [Sunday] after taking all those swings."

Gardenhire said because the Tigers were due to arrive in Minneapolis from Seattle so late into Monday, Cabrera will hit in the cages in Minnesota on Monday but will take full BP before Tuesday's game.

"[Sunday] is probably a go-get-your treatment, back-off day, and see how he comes out of it," Gardenhire said.

The first realistic time Cabrera could come off the DL might be during Detroit's home series against the White Sox beginning Friday.

"He hasn't run the bases or anything like that. So we've got to get him out on the bases," Gardenhire said. "We've got to get him fielding ground balls. He took some ground balls [Saturday], a little bit ...10 or 15 ground balls. Not really doing much movement. Just standing, infield-in type thing.

"There's things he has to get done to prove to himself and everybody else that he can really get out there and play the game, and dive around and all those things."

The Tigers haven't exactly fallen apart without Cabrera.

John Hicks, who entered the Major Leagues in 2015 as a catcher with the Mariners, hit safely in 14 of his first 17 games in May. He was tied for eighth in the American League among players with at least 60 at-bats with a .400 on-base percentage this month. Gardenhire said Hicks is working hard and improving his footwork and the nuances of playing first base.

The Tigers entered Sunday 7-8 with Cabrera on the disabled list. They started the season 13-17 before he got hurt. They were averaging 4.5 runs per game in their first 15 games with Cabrera on the DL. In their first 30 games with him in the lineup, the Tigers scored 4.3 runs per game.

Zimmermann update

Jordan Zimmermann is also poised to make progress this week in his return from right-shoulder impingement, which landed him on the DL May 6. The right-hander will throw a couple bullpen sessions then could go out on a rehabilitation start in the Minor Leagues next week. The Tigers' preliminary plan is one rehab start for Zimmermann before he could return to their rotation.

"Zimmermann's doing great. He's coming along really good," Gardenhire said.

"He's actually feeling really good. He's really happy with everything."

Left-hander Blaine Hardy is scheduled to make his second spot start for Zimmermann on Monday at Minnesota.

Gregg Bell is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera

Fiers, Tigers can't slow Mariners in loss

Rough sixth inning puts game out of reach for Detroit
Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Nearing 100 pitches, Detroit right-hander Mike Fiers asked manager Ron Gardenhire to go back out for the sixth inning against the Mariners.

Gardenhire let Fiers go out to start the sixth -- and the hurler walked Kyle Seager on four pitches, his first walk of the game.

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SEATTLE -- Nearing 100 pitches, Detroit right-hander Mike Fiers asked manager Ron Gardenhire to go back out for the sixth inning against the Mariners.

Gardenhire let Fiers go out to start the sixth -- and the hurler walked Kyle Seager on four pitches, his first walk of the game.

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That walk lit the fuse on a four-run rally, pushing the game well out of reach in Detroit's 7-2 loss to Seattle at Safeco Field on Saturday night.

Mike Zunino started the scoring with an RBI single off reliever Artie Lewicki and Dee Gordon capped the rally with a bases-loaded double off Lewicki's glove that trickled into right field and scored two runs.

"[Lewicki] said the ball was right at him, he thought it was right at [second baseman Dixon] Machado and didn't know if he should catch it or not," Gardenhire said. "And it ricochets off him, and there you have it."

With Mariners lefty James Paxton looking closer to his no-hitter form than the guy the Tigers beat in his last start, that was a bad combination.

Paxton (3-1) threw a complete-game three-hitter, but apart from a second inning homer by Victor Martinez, largely kept the Tigers off-balance. He struck out eight and walked one.

Video: DET@SEA: Martinez crushes solo home run to deep left

"He doesn't have one of those fastballs, at least for me anyway, you can take the other way; you've got to get on top of it," Detroit's Nicholas Castellanos said. "And that kind of opens you up to his offspeed stuff."

Fiers (4-3) gave up some early runs to Seattle on a solo homer by Jean Segura in the first inning, then a solo blast by Ben Gamel and an RBI triple by Segura in the second.

From there, he settled down, but against Paxton, the Tigers were always chasing. He finished with a line that included five-plus innings, six hits, four runs (all earned), a walk and two strikeouts.

And one successful debate about whether he should go back out to start the sixth inning.

"We're trying to get as much out of him as we possibly can," Gardenhire said. "And of course, what does he do? He talks me into it, then goes out and throws four straight balls, which he hadn't done all night long."

Lewicki gave up a single to Ryon Healy, then Zunino's RBI single. After walking Guillermo Heredia, Gordon's freak double into right broke the contest open.

Video: DET@SEA: Gordon smacks unusual 2-run double to right

"It was my first walk of the game, so I didn't really back up my talk there," Fiers said of his abbreviated sixth inning. "I asked him to give me another inning. Leadoff walks are definitely going to hurt, so I got us into that inning. Big inning, but it started with a walk, so it wasn't good."

Nor were the early home runs, a byproduct of Fiers pitching up in the zone.

"The home runs hurt," the right-hander said. "I've got to keep the ball in the park. If I do that, we're in a lot better shape."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
With Detroit trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Jose Iglesias nearly tied the game, slicing a pop into foul ground along the right-field line. Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger made the grab and momentum carried him into the crowd, with Niko Goodrum racing home from second. But umpires ruled the play dead before Goodrum got to third, so the would-be tying run was held up there.

Video: DET@SEA: Haniger makes great catch, falls into seats

SOUND SMART
If you're looking for a positive from Saturday's loss, you might look at Goodrum, who extended his hitting streak to a team-best eight games by beating out a huge chopper to Paxton near the mound. Goodrum is hitting .400 in that stretch.

HE SAID IT
"He was attacking and he got a lead and a good pitcher like him knows exactly what to do with it. He was popping it in there pretty good, the ball was really jumping." -- Gardenhire, on Paxton's complete-game performance

UP NEXT
Left-hander Francisco Liriano is trying to snap out of a May funk as his last two outings have been his shortest of the 2018 season so far. In that span, Liriano saw two no-decisions, allowing 11 hits and eight earned runs in 8 1/3 innings (an 8.64 ERA). He's also walked seven against six strikeouts. For the season, Liriano is 3-1 with a 4.03 ERA. He'll be opposing Mariners lefty Wade LeBlanc (0-0, 2.51) on Sunday at 4:10 p.m. ET.

Rob Shore is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Detroit Tigers

Gardenhire remains confident in Farmer

Right-hander is coming off a pair of consecutive rough outings
Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- In the gloom of the Detroit Tigers' clubhouse after giving away a four-run lead, losing pitcher Buck Farmer earned a glimmer of hope -- that manager Ron Gardenhire believed in him enough to protect a late-inning lead.

But then, after two bumpy outings, any measure of optimism will do.

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SEATTLE -- In the gloom of the Detroit Tigers' clubhouse after giving away a four-run lead, losing pitcher Buck Farmer earned a glimmer of hope -- that manager Ron Gardenhire believed in him enough to protect a late-inning lead.

But then, after two bumpy outings, any measure of optimism will do.

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"It means a lot; it means he has faith in me," Farmer said on Friday night. "Last night and tonight were two rough outings, but it's not going to stop me from continuing to try to get better every day."

Farmer went one-third of an inning on Thursday, allowing a hit and a walk. On Friday, it was worse, coming on in relief of Michael Fulmer, walking two straight batters, which would eventually be the winning runs in a 5-4 loss to Seattle.

Instead of stopping a Mariners rally, Farmer became part of a Tigers quartet of pitchers in the seventh inning that couldn't protect a lead.

In the moment, Farmer put the loss on himself, an emotion reflected in the loss that he took in the box score.

"You lose the lead late and it's on me," Farmer said. "It's always frustrating."

The loss led to some questioning of bringing in Farmer, rather than going with maybe a safer option in Joe Jimenez, the Tigers' established eighth-inning option. But Gardenhire wasn't having any of that.

"I've heard people say you could have brought Jimenez in there," Gardenhire said. "How many appearances and innings do you want to have Jimenez? He's supposed to be an eighth-inning guy, now you want to bring him in the seventh to try to get an out there and then the eighth -- he's already got 20-plus appearances. We're trying to protect that kid, too.

"Somebody else has to get people out."

The hope is that it could be Farmer, who is 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA in 20 2/3 innings this season.

Gardenhire admitted that the fluidity of the Tigers' bullpen at the moment opened up the possibility for the right-hander to get the opportunity.

"We're constantly mixing up pitching staffs, moving people in and out," Gardenhire said. "We have to continue to do that, but the last two outings for Farmer has been a little rough, he's just misfired. We were hoping he'd step into that role and be fine to where we could use him in the eighth inning where Jimenez is not going to pitch, which we did. ...

"When he's going good he's nice and calm, not trying to throw it 8,000 mph," Gardenhire added. "That's what he's looking for, and that's what we're looking for. And then he can be one of those guys towards the end."

But Gardenhire didn't see what he'd hoped for from the right-hander on Friday.

"The biggest thing you find is when he's erratic like that," Gardenhire said on Saturday. "If you're misfiring a little bit and you've got a 2-1 count and you throw a sinking changeup in the dirt bouncing away, that's not good enough. He's throwing 95. We want him to attack and he didn't attack yesterday."

Farmer was equally hard on his own performance after the game.

"I think I was just nibbling too much, got a couple of no-calls," Farmer said. "Didn't get balls in the strike zone as much as I needed to, walked two guys and that was the difference."

Rob Shore is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Detroit Tigers, Buck Farmer

Tigers come undone in seventh, fall to Mariners

Detroit allows five runs in decisive inning, squandering four-run lead
Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- It took one bad inning to undo what had been a superb night from Detroit Tigers starter Michael Fulmer. And in doing so, undid Fulmer's chance for his first win since April 7 as the Tigers fell to the Seattle Mariners 5-4 at Safeco Field on Friday night.

Mariners slugger Mitch Haniger hit an RBI double to cap a five-run Seattle outburst, a rally that saw the Tigers go through four pitchers before it was over. The Detroit foursome surrendered four walks in the inning, leading to a tying RBI single by Jean Segura and the go-ahead double by Haniger.

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SEATTLE -- It took one bad inning to undo what had been a superb night from Detroit Tigers starter Michael Fulmer. And in doing so, undid Fulmer's chance for his first win since April 7 as the Tigers fell to the Seattle Mariners 5-4 at Safeco Field on Friday night.

Mariners slugger Mitch Haniger hit an RBI double to cap a five-run Seattle outburst, a rally that saw the Tigers go through four pitchers before it was over. The Detroit foursome surrendered four walks in the inning, leading to a tying RBI single by Jean Segura and the go-ahead double by Haniger.

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It left Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire to bemoan wasting a gem by Fulmer.

"We had a great performance," he said. "You don't often do too well when you walk four guys in an inning. The seventh inning was a tough inning for us."

Up until then, it looked like a golden opportunity for Fulmer to get back on the winning track. Fulmer pitched 6 1/3 solid innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out seven and setting down 13 straight at one point.

But he also gave up three runs, which served to start the rally that undid Detroit. And it served as a reminder to the right-hander of his recent struggles getting through the late innings.

"It's all frustration," a crestfallen Fulmer said. "I just can't seem to figure it out right now. I just can't put a complete game together. All the work I've put in and it just falls apart."

Video: DET@SEA: Martinez powers RBI double into left field

But early on, Fulmer was on top of his game, as Mariners manager Scott Servais noted.

"He was dominant," Servais said. "It was commanding the fastball away, getting the slider over. There wasn't a whole lot we could do against him. He has a track record of being very tough. We got to him over in Detroit last weekend, but tonight he was really, really good. The stuff was really on fire and he was locating it very well."

The Mariners got to Fulmer as Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager led off the seventh with walks and were moved over on Ryon Healy's grounder to third. Ben Gamel followed with a two-run single to right that ended Fulmer's night.

But that still left the Tigers' bullpen with some work to do. And when the bullpen entered the game tied for the MLB lead with 10 blown saves, that was a worry.

Buck Farmer replaced Fulmer and walked Mike Zunino and Guillermo Heredia to load the bases. Lefty Daniel Stumpf came in for Farmer and induced Dee Gordon into a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 4-3.

Video: DET@SEA: Hicks plates 2 on a double in the 1st

Segura singled off Warwick Saupold -- Detroit's fourth pitcher in this bullpen conga line -- to bring home Zunino and tie it 4-4.

Haniger followed with his tiebreaking double, which would pin Farmer (0-2) with the loss. Reliever Dan Altavilla (3-2) earned the win for Seattle.

If Fulmer blamed himself for the loss, others were ready to take that responsibility as well.

"We lose the lead late, and it's on me," Farmer said. "It's always frustrating."

Up until the seventh, there was never a question of offense as the Tigers jumped on Seattle starter Felix Hernandez early. John Hicks hit a two-run double and Niko Goodrum added an RBI double in the first inning, giving Fulmer the support he needed.

Victor Martinez hit an RBI double in the fifth inning -- which then seemed like a luxury in a contest in which the Mariners didn't reach second base until the seventh inning.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Tigers jumped on Hernandez early as back-to-back doubles by Hicks and Goodrum staked Detroit to a three-run lead in the top of the first inning. That gave Fulmer a buffer for most of the night -- and it turned out the Tigers needed more.

Video: DET@SEA: Goodrum plants RBI double to center field

SOUND SMART
Hicks has been hot since taking over for the injured Miguel Cabrera on May 4. But he's turned it up a notch since May 12, batting .393 (11-for-28) and hitting safely in seven of eight games in that stretch. His two-run double in the first inning off Hernandez gave the Tigers an early lead.

HE SAID IT
"Fulmer was throwing fantastic, his pitch count was down and then all of a sudden, a couple of walks and you give up a base hit knocking in a couple of runs. Then you bring in Farmer and he walks a couple of guys. It becomes a merry-go-round." -- Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire, on the Mariners' seventh-inning rally that dismantled the Tigers

UP NEXT
Mike Fiers will get the start for the Tigers when they take on the Mariners at 9:10 p.m. ET on Saturday. The righty has won his last two starts, allowing three runs over that stretch of 11 1/3 innings. His last outing against Cleveland on May 14 was the third time in seven starts this season he'd gone six innings, allowing three hits and a run with five strikeouts. The Mariners will send James Paxton to the mound.

Rob Shore is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Detroit Tigers

Tigers activate Martin off disabled list

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Center fielder Leonys Martin was back in the lineup and led off for the Tigers against the Seattle Mariners on Friday after being activated from the 10-day disabled list. He went 0-for-4 with a run scored in the Tigers' 5-4 loss.

In a corresponding move, the Tigers optioned left-handed pitcher Ryan Carpenter to Triple-A Toledo.

View Full Game Coverage

SEATTLE -- Center fielder Leonys Martin was back in the lineup and led off for the Tigers against the Seattle Mariners on Friday after being activated from the 10-day disabled list. He went 0-for-4 with a run scored in the Tigers' 5-4 loss.

In a corresponding move, the Tigers optioned left-handed pitcher Ryan Carpenter to Triple-A Toledo.

View Full Game Coverage

The 30-year-old Martin had gone on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain on May 9. Martin is hitting .294 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 32 games.

"He's fine; he's been driving us crazy in here," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He came in, he said he feels great. There you have it. He wants to play."

Martin was able to do some running before the contest and noticed no aftereffects with his hamstring.

"If I go out there, I'm going to do my best," Martin said before the game. "I'm going to be 100 percent to play the game."

Martin, an eight-year Major Leaguer, enjoyed one of his finest seasons with the Mariners in 2016, hitting .247 with 15 homers, 47 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 518 at-bats.

Rob Shore is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Detroit Tigers, Leonys Martin

Faedo fires 7 shutout frames for Lakeland

MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Two of the top five prospects in the White Sox farm system took the mound on Friday night, and they didn't disappoint. Chicago's No. 2 prospect (No. 9 overall), Michael Kopech, rode his blistering fastball to his longest Triple-A start, while the team's No. 5 prospect -- and No. 56 prospect overall -- Dylan Cease turned in six scoreless frames of his own in Class A Advanced Winston-Salem's 6-0 victory over Down East.

Kopech tossed seven scoreless innings for Charlotte, giving up just two hits, walking two and striking out nine. He didn't allow his first hit until he yielded a two-out double in the fifth. The performance was a big turnaround after the 22-year-old right-hander surrendered eight earned runs over 3 1/3 innings in his previous outing.

"It was a night where three out of my four pitches were working for me," Kopech told MiLB.com. "My changeup wasn't great tonight, but I did throw it in some counts where I was able to get some swings over it and just go take advantage of putting guys behind with that pitch."

Watch: Kopech fans Haase on three pitches

Cease, meanwhile, allowed two hits, while walking two and fanning six for the Dash. The 22-year-old right-hander lowered his season ERA to 3.12 over eight starts.

Other top prospect performances from Friday's action:

• Two-way player Brendan McKay, the Rays' No. 3 prospect (No. 24 overall) made his pitching debut for Class A Advanced Charlotte, tossing five scoreless innings over which he yielded one hit and struck out five. McKay, who also plays first base, posted a 1.09 ERA in six starts for Class A Bowling Green before his promotion.

Tigers No. 3 prospect -- and No. 55 prospect overall -- Alex Faedo threw seven brilliant innings in Class A Advanced Lakeland's 1-0 victory over Tampa. He held the Tarpons scoreless on only two hits, walking one and fanning five. The performance lowered the right-hander's season ERA to 3.50 over eight starts and was a bounceback effort after he allowed eight runs on 10 hits over just two innings in his previous start.

"I'm not saying it's ever good to have a start [like my last one]," Faedo told MiLB.com, "but when it happens it really gives you a chance to reflect. And for me, it served as a reminder that I'm going up against professional hitters and everyone out there is trying to get the best of you and beat you, so I need to always get the best out of myself. So it definitely was a reminder that I need to pay attention to detail every single time I'm throwing. With everyone having access to a scouting report, it's crucial to put an emphasis on every pitch and just keep getting better every time I go out there. So that's been my focus."

Stephen Gonsalves, the Twins' No. 3 prospect and the No. 74 prospect overall, struck out 11 over 5 1/3 scoreless frames in Triple-A Rochester's 2-0 win over Pawtucket, walking four and giving up four hits. The 23-year-old left-hander has a 2.95 ERA in four starts for Rochester after a promotion from Double-A Chattanooga, where he posted a 1.77 ERA over four starts.

• Left-hander Alex Young, the D-backs' No. 23 prospect, tossed eight scoreless innings in Double-A Jackson's 4-1 win over Pensacola. He gave up just three hits and walked two while striking out seven, lowering his ERA on the season to 3.91 in nine starts.

Indians No. 23 prospect Ka'ai Tom had a huge night at the plate in Double-A Akron's 15-3 rout of Hartford, going 5-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs. The 23-year-old outfielder added 37 points to his batting average on the season, raising it from .190 to .227. The pair of homers gives him five in 32 games this season.

Tom blasts 2nd homer of the game

Marlins No. 21 prospect Pablo Lopez continued his sensational start to the 2018 season, tossing 5 2/3 innings while allowing no earned runs (three unearned), five hits and three walks while fanning 10. The 22-year-old right-hander's ERA for the season is 0.28 over six starts, and he has 37 strikeouts to seven walks.

Lopez gets 10th K

Padres' No. 21 prospect Chris Paddack continued his remarkable run in his return from Tommy John surgery, striking out 10 over 5 2/3 shutout frames for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore to stretch his scoreless-inning streak to 21 2/3 innings to start the season. The 22-year-old right-hander gave up just two hits and a walk and has yielded only seven singles and three doubles through his first four starts while posting a 36:2 K/BB mark.

"Tonight, we worked off the fastball command," Paddack told MiLB.com. "My curveball was working tonight. I threw a few changeups when I needed to. But other than that, we threw every bit of 50-to-55 fastballs, if not more."

Red Sox No. 24 prospect Chad De La Guerra went 2-for-5 in Double-A Portland's 8-4 victory over Altoona, racking up multiple hits for the fourth straight game. The 25-year-old infielder is batting .413 (19-for-46) with two homers in 11 games for the Sea Dogs after he hit .137/.158/.205 with one home run in 22 games for Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the season.

Royals No. 4 prospect MJ Melendez had a career night at the plate in Class A Lexington's 6-0 victory over West Virginia, doubling and homering twice while driving in a career-best five runs. The 19-year-old catcher raised his season batting average by 16 points in the process, and he is slashing .269/.330/.625 with seven home runs in 28 games.

Melendez told MiLB.com that after watching a recent MLB.com interview of Bo Bichette, in which the Blue Jays prospect credited a return to being himself at the plate for his emergence from a slump, he decided to do the same.

Video: Bo Bichette and Guerrero Jr. break down their at-bats

"I really felt like I was trying to do too much in the early and middle parts of the season. ... I'm just going back to sticking to my approach, hit the ball solid and not trying to do too much by not trying to lift balls out of the park, and let my physical abilities take over."

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Iglesias' clutch hit fuels come-from-behind win

Tigers score twice in eighth to win series opener vs. Mariners
Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Matthew Boyd had passed out 38 tickets to family members. He had what he estimated were "40 or 50 more friends" around his hometown ballpark. They were presumably in on their own dime Thursday.

Then he took the mound and dazzled. Boyd had a career-high nine strikeouts in his first career start in his backyard.

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SEATTLE -- Matthew Boyd had passed out 38 tickets to family members. He had what he estimated were "40 or 50 more friends" around his hometown ballpark. They were presumably in on their own dime Thursday.

Then he took the mound and dazzled. Boyd had a career-high nine strikeouts in his first career start in his backyard.

View Full Game Coverage

Jose Iglesias ensured all that didn't go to waste.

Video: DET@SEA: Boyd strikes out career-high 9 in Seattle

The Tigers' No. 8 hitter drove in the go-ahead runs in the eighth with a two-out bases-loaded single off Seattle reliever Nick Vincent (1-1) that scored Victor Martinez and Mikie Mahtook and kept Boyd from an underserved defeat in Detroit's 3-2 victory over the Mariners to begin a four-game series at Safeco Field.

Iglesias clapped his hands excitedly while on first base after his decisive single off the glove of shortstop Jean Segura, who made a diving attempt. Then he pointed at his roaring dugout after his second game-winning hit against the Mariners in four days.

The battered-yet-resilient Tigers won for the fifth time in seven games.

"Great, great ballgame. Extremely happy with the way the guys battled the whole game," Iglesias said. "Boyd, the 'pen did a great job today. We competed the whole game.

"Got a good pitch to hit. I was able to find a hole and help the team to win a game."

Video: DET@SEA: Matthew Boyd's family talks to Tigers' booth

Iglesias, who was batting .238 entering Thursday, also doubled in the fifth inning off Seattle starter Marco Gonzales. Iglesias had a walk-off hit to beat the Mariners in Detroit on Sunday.

The Tigers have defeated Seattle three times in four games since Saturday. They won for the first time in eight tries at Safeco Field.

Guillermo Heredia tied his career high with three hits for the Mariners. And reliever Ryan Cook shined in his first Major League game since Sept. 16, 2015, a span of 973 days between appearances. Cook, who's had surgeries in two of the last three years, retired all four Tigers he faced.

Yet Seattle lost for the second time in three games since Robinson Cano's 80-game suspension for a violation of baseball's drug policy on Tuesday.

"Detroit has played us tough. They're playing really good right now," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "They've got a lot of young players that are out to prove something. They beat us two out of three over there. They beat Cleveland two out of three and they come in and get the first one here tonight. Confidence is growing with that ballclub.

"Even though there's not some household names over there, they're playing really well."

Warwick Saupold (2-1) threw three pitches and got one out in the seventh before the Tigers' rally, for the win.

Video: DET@SEA: Saupold beats Segura to the bag for key out

Boyd, a native of Mercer Island across Lake Washington seven miles from Safeco Field, was smiling after having command issues with his fastball to begin the game. He fell behind 2-0 after Segura's double and Mitch Haniger's RBI single in the third. Then Boyd relied more on his slider. He used that pitch at speeds of 79 to 84 mph for six of his nine strikeouts.

He had tied his career high of eight K's by the fourth inning.

"It was exciting," said Boyd, who pitched collegiately at Oregon State. "Everywhere I turned I saw someone I grew up with. It was just really nice to have all love. ... It was a special day."

Shane Greene finished the ninth for his 10th save and second in three days.

Video: DET@SEA: Greene notches save to seal comeback win

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Joe Jimenez blew away Haniger, Kyle Seager and Ryon Healy on strikes in his perfect bottom of the eighth.

Yes, that middle of the Mariners' lineup is missing Cano and injured Nelson Cruz. Yet what Jimenez did with his 14 pitches and 10 strikes that the Mariners didn't come close to hitting left the usually stoic reliever grinning.

"He was pounding it. His fastball was jumpin'," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He doesn't smile very much. But he had a big smile on his face in the dugout."

SOUND SMART
Thursday's win was the Tigers' 18th one-run game already this season. Ten of Detroit's 20 victories this year have come in one-run games.

"We feel comfortable," Gardenhire said. "Stay close, and see what happens. It's just about a group of guys getting after it. … It's fun in our dugout in that way. We feel like we can do some things."

The Tigers won only 17 of 40 one-run games in 2017 en route to a 98-loss season.

UP NEXT
Leonys Martin will test his strained hamstring before Game Two of this four-game series expecting to come off the disabled list Friday to start in center field against former Mariners teammate Felix Hernandez (5-3, 5.66 ERA). Michael Fulmer (1-3, 4.37) starts for the Tigers. The 2016 American League Rookie of the Year has allowed 11 earned runs and three home runs in his last 10 innings, including six runs and two homers against Seattle last weekend in Detroit.

Gregg Bell is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Detroit Tigers

Martin comes to ex-teammate Cano's defense

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Leonys Martin said he's talked to Robinson Cano and that he believes in his friend and former teammate.

Martin, the Tigers' center fielder, says there's no way the Mariners' superstar second baseman masked performance-enhancing drugs with a diuretic Cano said was prescribed by a doctor in the Dominican Republic. Major League Baseball suspended Cano 80 games on Tuesday.

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SEATTLE -- Leonys Martin said he's talked to Robinson Cano and that he believes in his friend and former teammate.

Martin, the Tigers' center fielder, says there's no way the Mariners' superstar second baseman masked performance-enhancing drugs with a diuretic Cano said was prescribed by a doctor in the Dominican Republic. Major League Baseball suspended Cano 80 games on Tuesday.

View Full Game Coverage

And, Martin says, players around the league criticizing Cano for excuse-making need to back off. Martin played with Cano on the Mariners in 2016 and for most of 2017, when Seattle traded Martin to the Chicago Cubs at the end of August.

"We are really good friends," Martin said. "He's having a hard time right now. It's not an easy process. As a friend, I don't believe it. I know Robbie, and he's not the type of guy to disrespect the game. He doesn't need that. He's got no reason to do that.

"Everybody knows he got sick a couple years ago," Martin said.

Cano, 35, had sports hernia surgery to the left and right sides of his abdominal area in October 2015 after playing 156 games that season for Seattle. That was the second year of the 10-year, $240 million contract Cano signed with the Mariners before the 2014 season.

"I shared a clubhouse with Robinson Cano," said Martin, who is expecting to come off the disabled list Friday from a strained hamstring to play in the second game of this four-game series at the Mariners. "He's the type of guy who has to be aware of what he eats. … So that's why he was trying to take care of his stomach, or whatever.

"I don't make an excuse, but I don't think he did that. I know Robbie. He's not that type of guy. He's got no reason to do it. Two-hundred-forty million? He's the type of guy who's [close] to Cooperstown. He's got a lot to lose. So he's got no reason to see Robbie Cano doing that. He's the type of guy who would never do that.

"He needs more money? Let's think about that."

When Major League announced Cano's suspension on Tuesday, Martin was visibly upset inside the Tigers' clubhouse in Detroit. He was angry not just at what happened to his friend, but at what he was seeing on television and social media from other players around baseball. Some mocked Cano for excuses.

Justin Verlander, the former Tigers ace now with the Astros, posted on his Twitter account Tuesday as the news of Cano's suspension broke: "Aaaand excuse coming in 3….. 2…… 1……."

Tweet from @JustinVerlander: Aaaand excuse coming in 3..... 2...... 1......

"Everywhere you go, you see people talking about Robbie. You see players on social media talking trash about Robinson Cano," Martin said. "And they don't even know what happened. That's the thing that I don't get. That's why I get so mad. He's a special player, and we are supposed to be one family in this game. Don't judge nobody in this game. That's why I don't get it.

"We are not allowed to judge anybody. We don't know the reason. We don't know what happened, for real. So I don't get it. We are supposed to be one family, MLB, the players. That's what I don't get it. You see players writing stuff on social media. I don't get that [expletive]."

Martin then hit on one theme of the criticism of Cano. It's a friction as old as the game itself: pitchers versus hitters, and vice versa.

"You see pitchers out there using pine tar. That's cheating, too. To get a better grip on the breaking ball? That's cheating, too," Martin said. "Nobody's talking about that. …

"You never know, what's happened to Robinson Cano today can happen to you tomorrow. That's how it is.

"But it's OK. He's going to be OK. I know Robbie, and he's going to be OK. He's going to get out of this, and he's going to be fine."

Gregg Bell is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Detroit Tigers, Robinson Cano, Leonys Martin

Taking stock of the Tigers at quarter mark

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The first quarter of the 2018 season has featured the Indians and Twins jousting for the top spot in the American League Central, as many expected. No team in the division having a record above .500 is more of a surprise.

Let's also not forget a rebuilding Tigers squad sneaking into early contention behind mediocre starts from the division favorites. Here's what we know overall about the five AL Central squads at the season's quarter mark.

CHICAGO -- The first quarter of the 2018 season has featured the Indians and Twins jousting for the top spot in the American League Central, as many expected. No team in the division having a record above .500 is more of a surprise.

Let's also not forget a rebuilding Tigers squad sneaking into early contention behind mediocre starts from the division favorites. Here's what we know overall about the five AL Central squads at the season's quarter mark.

INDIANS

One thing we learned in the first quarter: The Tribe bullpen looks like a weakness. After having longtime setup man Bryan Shaw depart via free agency, Cleveland knew there would be a ripple effect throughout the relief roles. The Indians didn't expect things to get this bad, though. Through 40 games, the club's 5.45 bullpen ERA ranked 28th in the Majors.

What we'll be watching in the second quarter: On the positive side, fans will be watching to see if Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor -- who both finished in the top five in AL MVP voting last year -- can actually get better. They've again been one of the game's most dynamic duos. On the other side, the next quarter will show if players like Jason Kipnis and Edwin Encarnacion can pull out of their extreme cold spells.

Video: CLE@BAL: Ramirez clubs two home runs in win over O's

Key series or stretch of schedule: From May 18-27, the Indians will play nine games against the last two World Series champions. The seven games against the Astros, plus a two-game set on the road against the Cubs, will provide a good litmus test for the Tribe.

Stock watch: The Indians' stock is down right now. The team entered with extremely high expectations and has hovered around the .500 mark. They remain the division favorites, but the Tribe has plenty of kinks to iron out.

ROYALS

One thing we learned in the first quarter: The Royals aren't very good without All-Star and Gold Glove catcher Salvador Perez. With Perez on the disabled list, the Royals lost 15 of the first 20 games to open the season. They've been closer to who they're expected to be with him because of his presence in the offense and behind the plate.

Video: KC@CLE: Perez drills a 2-run shot to give Royals lead

What we'll be watching in the second quarter: Left-hander Danny Duffy. The Royals received plenty of offers for Duffy during the offseason but held off dealing him, either because they didn't like the return or because they consider him part of the future for when they complete their next rebuild. But Duffy is going through perhaps the worst stretch of his career; he's 1-5 with a 6.51 ERA. Duffy and the Royals say he's 100 percent and just in a slump. Duffy's value at the Trade Deadline could hinge on his second-quarter starts.

Key series or stretch of schedule: Near the end of June, the Royals will embark on a four-city road trip that starts in Houston for three games, returns to Kansas City for a makeup game against the Angels, resumes in Milwaukee for two and then concludes in Seattle for three. All four of those teams are either in first place or contending. That trip will test the Royals' character, especially if they continue to fade in the Central.

Stock watch: This team wasn't really designed with postseason intentions, but it shouldn't be this bad, either, so let's say its stock is down. This season is about the MLB Draft in June, flipping some veterans at the Trade Deadline to further restock the farm system, and getting some younger players (Brad Keller, Tim Hill, Jakob Junis, Jorge Soler, Cheslor Cuthbert) some valuable experience.

TIGERS

One thing we learned in the first quarter: The Tigers have taken on some of the characteristics of Ron Gardenhire's previous team, notably a more aggressive baserunning style and a willingness to compete until the final out. Their four walk-off wins are the most by a Tigers club through 40 games since 1993. Their baserunning has been epitomized by JaCoby Jones, who scored from first base on a single Saturday.

What we'll be watching in the second quarter: Can Matthew Boyd keep up his strong pitching? The left-hander quietly has become a front-line starter in the Tigers' rotation, averaging six innings per outing and tossing six or more innings of one-run ball in four of his first five starts. He has pitched deeper into games and drastically reduced his home-run rate by taking something off his fastball and improving his slider, allowing a .244 BABIP. If he can continue this stinginess as the weather warms up, the Tigers have a better rotation beyond Michael Fulmer.

Video: TB@DET: Boyd strikes out seven over six solid innings

Key series or stretch of schedule: The Tigers will play 18 games in a 17-day stretch from Memorial Day weekend into mid-June, thanks in part to a makeup doubleheader against the Yankees on June 4. Besides the Bronx Bombers, the stretch includes four games against the Angels and three-game sets against the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Indians.

Stock watch: It's steady. Everybody in Detroit knew this was a rebuilding season, so their record is no surprise. What has impressed has been the way they've competed. This is an entertaining team to watch, even if the results don't show it.

TWINS

One thing we learned in the first quarter: The Twins have had their depth tested with injuries to key players such as Ervin Santana, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Jason Castro, but they've started to play better after a rough stretch that saw them lose 12 of 14. Eduardo Escobar's production has been key, while Eddie Rosario has heated up and the pitching has been steadier.

Video: MIN@STL: Escobar skies a 2-run homer in the 7th

What we'll be watching in the second quarter: Buxton returned from the disabled list but has been a bit rusty so far, as he skipped a rehab assignment because his defense is so important to the team. If he can get it going offensively, it would be a major boost to the lineup. Right-hander Lance Lynn also must get it going after struggling so far and must get his command back on track.

Key series or stretch of schedule: May 31-June 10. The Twins have an 11-game homestand to try to make up ground, including a four-game series against the Indians from May 31-June 3. They follow that with a four-game series against the White Sox that includes a doubleheader before hosting the Angels for a three-game set.

Stock watch: Up. In fact, they've won 8 of 12 games.

WHITE SOX

One thing we learned in the first quarter: Year 2 of the rebuild, tabbed as development-focused, has been the toughest part to date, as mentioned a few times previously by general manager Rick Hahn. There's talent in place at the big league level, but there have been noticeable growing pains for top young pitchers such as Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer and even Reynaldo Lopez. The same held true for second baseman Yoan Moncada, who has steadied things after a slow start and become one of the team's more consistent offensive performers.

Video: Moncada hits leadoff homer in back-to-back games

What we'll be watching in the second quarter: Does Michael Kopech arrive? The right-hander ranks No. 2 among White Sox prospects and No. 9 overall per MLB Pipeline, possessing elite stuff, but he has struggled with command over his last two starts. Hahn will not rush Kopech or outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who is currently crushing the ball for Double-A Birmingham and is the organization's top prospect (No. 3 overall) or any other top prospect before that player checks off every box needed for promotion.

Key series or stretch of schedule: From May 28 to June 20, the White Sox play 20 of their 23 games against teams considered playoff contenders and three against a competitive Detroit team. That stretch includes 10 against the Indians and four against the Twins.

Stock watch: It would be easy to say it's way down considering the White Sox have won two series all season, have the worst record in baseball and have simply not played good fundamental baseball. But perspective is also needed to understand this team is building more for the future than success in the present. So a qualified steady or slightly down might be a more accurate read, as it's really about individual growth as opposed to team wins and losses.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals