Thoughts on Game 8 of 162

Not bad: In his first start of the season, Phil Coke struck out seven and gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings. (AP)

Phil Coke’s transition as a starter got off to a shaky start, but he bounced back well to provide the Tigers with an impressive outing. Coke gave up just two runs and struck out seven over 6 2/3 innings. The Tigers bats never got going which led to the loss. Detroit’s only run came in the ninth inning on a solo homer by Ryan Raburn.

Hero: Bruce Chen

Chen kept the Tigers off balance on Saturday, surrendering just three hits and striking out seven in six scoreless innings of work. The pitching win was the first of the season for Chen, who owns a 3-1 record in starts against the Tigers since last season.

Positive day despite outcome: If Coke can continue to have starts like the one on Saturday, it will bode well for the Tigers. He was effective out of the bullpen last season but the Tigers reserved a spot in the rotation for him at the end of last year, thinking he could fare well as starter. Him in the rotation gives the Tigers a lefty presence that they haven’t really had since Dontrelle Willis was in the rotation early last season before being released. Coke pitching well also relieves the need to have to rush Andy Oliver or Jacob Turner to the majors and allows them to get more seasoning in the minors. Although both pitchers had strong season-opening starts in the minors.

Regardless of that, if Coke continues to have outings like that the Tigers should win a majority of the games he starts.

Up next: Kansas City, 1 p.m. Sunday

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