April 12, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Brennan Boesch (26) hit a two RBI single during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Boesch singled in the fifth to break a 1-1 tie, then singled again in the seventh to give his team a three-run cushion. He finished the day 2-for-4 with 4 RBI.
Of course, the other key plot point today was the major-league debut of Drew Smyly. The 22-year-old left-hander had a rough go at it to begin: He threw balls on seven of his first eight pitches. He sandwiched two walks around a hit to allow the Rays to load the bases before an out was even recorded. For awhile, you feared he'd walk in a run, too. But after a meeting with catcher Alex Avila and manager Jim Leyland, he seemed to settle in. He got a fly ball to shallow right for the first out, then struck out the next two batters.
He went 4+ innings, going out to the mound in the fifth inning but without recording an out. Only a Carlos Pena home run in the third inning marred his ERA. Smyly allowed four hits, three walks and a hit batsman while striking out four.
Alex Avila and Prince Fielder both had two hits. Avila hit a triple in the eighth to drive in Fielder.
Collin Balester picked up the win for the Tigers -- his first since coming to Detroit in a trade with Washington -- after pitching two innings in relief of Smyly. He helped the rookie erase a baserunner in the fifth.
Detroit went 5-1 on its homestand against the AL East. The Tigers now head to Chicago.