Small adjustments lead to results for Lowe, A. Wilson

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Alex Wilson has allowed one run in 3.2 innings over his past four appearances.

Detroit — Tigers pitching coach Rich Dubee goes about his job quietly. He rarely talks to the media and when he does, he limits his answers to short sentences and sometimes just a word or two.

But the results of his work — at least as it applies to two of the Tigers more important relief pitches — has been loudly evident the last few games.

Start with Alex Wilson.

From May 5-12, Wilson made five rough appearances. In 3.2 innings, he allowed seven runs (six earned) and eight hits as opponents hit .444 off him.

In four outings since, he’s allowed one run (a homer by Steve Pearce) in 3.2 innings as opponents have hit .154 off him.

The difference was a slight adjustment that he and Dubee made after watching video.

“It was just getting my (throwing) hand away from my head, and it actually freed my arm up a lot,” Wilson said. “It’s something I started doing last year, trying to protect myself because my shoulder was barking a little bit.

“Dubee and I sat down and looked at video and he said, ‘Hey, your hand is way closer to your head than it was last year. Let’s try moving it out.’”

The result was that his arm action was better, more fluid, which translated into increased velocity and crisper movement on his cutter.

“I knew something was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it,” Wilson said. “My cutter wasn’t sharp and my velocity was down. Now, I expect everything to be coming back to life a little bit.”

He got three quick outs to finish the game against the Rays on Sunday.

That was after set-up man Mark Lowe pitched an impressive eighth inning, with the Tigers holding a three-run lead. He gave up two singles and then slammed the door with two strikeouts and a foul pop out.

“It was nice to see Lowe recover and get out of that inning,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’re going to need him to be the guy either in the seventh or eighth inning.”

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It was Lowe’s third straight scoreless outing after a nightmarish five-outing stretch where he was tagged for nine runs and seven hits over 2.2 innings. Opponents hit .538 against him in those outings with a 2.171 OPS.

“The changes that I made have gone good for me,” Lowe said. “I am going to just keep riding it.”

The alteration involved Lowe’s hip rotation.

“It’s just making sure I’m throwing over my front side and not around it,” he said. “Think about your hips as a catapult.”

The goal is to drive the hips more toward the plate and not open them up. When he comes straight over his front side, he generates more power. His fastball was back up into the mid-90s on Sunday.

“It has to (boost velocity) because you are storing all your energy on your back side and you’re transferring it all onto your front,” he said. “As opposed to going around.”

In his last three innings, opponents are hitting .182 against him.

“It was good to have an inning like that (Sunday),” Lowe said. “You get into a jam and then get out of it. It builds confidence, which is something I definitely needed to build after last week.”

Around the horn

Miguel Cabrera and Cameron Maybin were named American League co-players of the week.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before,” Ausmus said of the co-award.

Cabrera was 11-for-22, with three home runs and six RBIs. Maybin went 12-for-20 with a homer, five RBIs and four stolen bases.

... The Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities, presented a gift of $300,000 to Detroit Police Athletic League before the game. The money was to support PAL’S Kids and the Corner campaign.

The grant is the largest single gift ever made by the Tigers Foundation and will go to support the new multi-sports complex at Michigan and Trumbull, the site of old Tigers Stadium.

Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Alan Trammell and Phil Coke made large contributions.

... The Tigers went into the game Monday having homered in eight straight games.

... The Tigers scratched left fielder Justin Upton about an hour before Monday’s game with right quad tightness. Steven Moya replaced him in left field and hit sixth in the batting order.

Twitter: @cmccosky