BOSTON — Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland had a theory about why Doug Fister looked completely different after a shaky start.
Fister walked three and plunked a hitter in the first seven batters he faced, but settled down to throw seven shutout innings as Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox 3-0 yesterday in a matchup of teams with the AL’s best records.
“This is what I think, and I’m probably crazy,” the veteran manager said. “People have talked about this park for 100 years and I think at the beginning of the game he was being a little bit careful, and I thought he got more aggressive as the game went on — and I thought it helped him.”
“Early on, I think he was being careful like a 1,000 pitchers have done before him. It’s hard to convince him that you have to be aggressive in this ballpark because if you don’t you’ll get burnt. I don’t have idea if that’s accurate, but that’s what it seemed like to me,” he said.
Fister (12-7) rebounded from a miserable start in his previous outing, holding Boston to four hits while walking four and striking out four. In his last start, he gave up 13 hits and seven runs in a loss to Oakland.
“Keeping the ball down, throwing pitches that I needed to induce the double plays,” the right-hander said was the difference.
The Tigers won despite missing Miguel Cabrera for the third straight game. He has been sidelined by a strained abdomen, though general manager Dave Dombrowski said the Triple Crown winner has been more hampered by a groin problem.
“I feel better,” Cabrera said as he stopped briefly while walking through the clubhouse.
Asked if he thought he’d play today, the slugger smiled and said, “I hope so.”