PHOENIX -- The Detroit Tigers have a 6 1/2-game lead over Cleveland in the American League Central, but their bullpen has been one of the worst in baseball, so they decided to do something about it.
The acquisition of Texas closer Joakim Soria on Wednesday would appear to give them options in the back end. They traded pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel to Texas in return for Soria, who has 17 saves and a 2.70 ERA this season.
The Tigers signed former Texas closer Joe Nathan to a two-year, $20 million deal last offseason, but he has a 5.89 ERA and has blown five of his 25 save attempts. He has been a big culprit in Detroit's 4.41 bullpen ERA, which is among the bottom five in baseball.
Right-hander Joba Chamberlain has done well as the setup man for Nathan over the past two months, with just a 1.35 ERA in 29 appearances.
He came into the game earlier than usual on Wednesday, holding a 7-5 lead in the seventh inning.
It remains to be seen whether the 30-year-old Soria -- a two-time All-Star with Kansas City before missing the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery -- bumps Chamberlain out of the eighth entirely or whether Soria takes over for Nathan or serves some other role.
"I'm going to a new team, and that's going to be my new family and I will do whatever they want me to do," Soria said. "I want to help them win the World Series. That's what this is all about, and I hope to help them out as much as I can."
The Tigers gave up two former high picks for Soria, who is in the second year of an $8 million deal that has a $15.7 million club option in 2015.
Thompson, 20, was a second-round draft pick in 2012. He is 10-9 with a 2.96 ERA over 200 2/3 innings in the minors.
Knebel, 22, was drafted in the first round (39th overall) in 2013 and has a 6-2 record and a 1.26 ERA in 64 1/3 innings in the minor leagues. He was 4-1 for Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo this year.
STREAK: Won one
NEXT: Tigers (RHP Max Scherzer, 11-3, 3.34 ERA) at Angels (RHP Garrett Richards, 11-2, 2.47 ERA)
--RHP Joba Chamberlain got Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt to ground into a critical double play in the seventh inning Wednesday, the third time he has pitched in the seventh this season and the first since May. 7. "It was the nature of the game today," manager Brad Ausmus said of going to Chamberlain. "I felt like Joba was the one guy who could kind of stem the tide. Normally, I would like to have him pitch the eighth. I just thought this was a unique situation. This to me was the game." Chamberlain held a 7-5 lead, and the Tigers scored four runs in the eighth inning to take control in an 11-5 victory. Chamberlain has been scored upon twice in 29 appearances since May 14, and his ERA in that span is 1.35.
--RHP Joakim Soria, acquired from Texas on Wednesday, should give the Tigers plenty of options at the back end of the bullpen. With Texas this season, he converted 17 of 19 save chances and had a 2.70 ERA. He could replace RHP Joe Nathan, who has a 5.89 ERA and has blown five of his 25 save attempts. Or he could work as a setup man. "I'm going to a new team, and that's going to be my new family and I will do whatever they want me to do," Soria said. "I want to help them win the World Series. That's what this is all about, and I hope to help them out as much as I can."
--1B/3B Miguel Cabrera's shot off the screen on the left-field foul pole, which capped a four-run eighth inning, was his first homer of the month. "That was good to see," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Miggy's home run opened the game up for us."
--SS Eugenio Suarez was given a day off Wednesday after going 1-for-7 in the first two games of the Arizona series. He is 3-for-23 since a two-hit game in Kansas City on July 10, but manager Brad Ausmus said he has been pleased with Suarez's at-bats during the stretch. "It's certainly nothing to be concerned about," Ausmus said. "He is not taking bad swings. I'm not sitting him because of his performance. He's just not getting hits." The rookie is hitting .252 with three homers and 11 RBIs.
--LF J.D. Martinez did not start after feeling mild quad soreness when he broke out of the batter's box on his line drive that struck Arizona RHP Brad Ziegler in the rib cage in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game. "Nothing major, but I thought it would be best to give him a day," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Running down, he just felt a little something. I don't think it is anything of consequence." Martinez was available to pinch hit, Ausmus said.
--3B Nick Castellanos was given a season-high third straight day off Wednesday so the Tigers once again could get both 1B/3B Miguel Batista and 1B Victor Martinez in the lineup in the final game of the interleague series in Arizona. "My original intention was to play him one of the games, but I changed my mind," Ausmus said. "We're built for an American League schedule. I just feel more comfortable having Victor's bat in the lineup." Castellanos is hitting .265 with 23 doubles, six homers and 35 RBIs.
--RF Torii Hunter was given Wednesday off, a day after a night game, all part of manager Brad Ausmus' plan. "I just think to have Torii around for the long haul, he's going to have to days here and there," Ausmus said. Hunter, who turned 39 last week, is hitting .381 with four doubles, one triple, five homers and 20 RBIs in his last 16 games. Hunter will face his most recent former team, the Los Angeles Angels, in a four-game series that begins Thursday.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was the nature of the game today. I felt like Joba was the one guy who could kind of stem the tide. Normally, I would like to have him pitch the eighth. I just thought this was a unique situation. This to me was the game." -- Manager Brad Ausmus, after Chamberlain was brought in during the seventh inning and got Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt to hit into a double play with the tying runs on base in a 7-5 game.
--LF J.D. Martinez (sore quadriceps) did not play July 23.
--LF Andy Dirks (lower back surgery in March 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list March 29, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 21. Dirks said he has had problems with his lower back since high school, but it locked up on him early in spring training. He was cleared to resume light baseball activity May 2. He was throwing and taking dry swings as of May 10. He was throwing and taking dry swings as of May 24, and he was running again as of June 3. As of June 12, Dirks was hitting off a tee, doing soft-toss batting drills and running bases. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Lakeland on July 8. Dirks' rehab assignment was halted July 16 because of muscular soreness.
--LHP Pat McCoy (right hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list July 6. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on July 22.
--RHP Joel Hanrahan (Tommy John surgery in May 2013) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 19. He was throwing off the mound and playing long toss as of May 24. After a slight hamstring setback, he was only playing long toss from about 120 feet in mid-June. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session July 5.
--RHP Luke Putkonen (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list on April 21, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 22. He began a rehab assignment with Class-A West Michigan on May 7, and he moved his rehab to Triple-A Toledo on May 9. His rehab assignment was halted in mid-May, and he underwent surgery to shave down the bone in his right elbow on June 13. He is out until late July or early August.
--RHP Bruce Rondon (Tommy John surgery in March 2014) went on the 60-day disabled list March 29. He is out for the season.
--SS Jose Iglesias (stress fractures in both shins) went on the 60-day disabled list March 29. He was declared out for the season by GM Dave Dombrowski on June 4.
RHP Justin Verlander
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Rick Porcello
LHP Drew Smyly
RHP Anibal Sanchez
RHP Joe Nathan (closer)
RHP Joakim Soria
RHP Joba Chamberlain
RHP Al Alburquerque
LHP Phil Coke
LHP Blaine Hardy
LHP Ian Krol
1B Miguel Cabrera
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Eugenio Suarez
3B Nick Castellanos
DH Victor Martinez
INF Don Kelly
INF Andrew Romine
LF J.D. Martinez
CF Austin Jackson
RF Torii Hunter
OF Rajai Davis
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