Detroit — The one thing Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire knew about Artie Lewicki was that he’d compete, no matter what.
Lewicki, who has stepped into Mike Fiers’ spot in the Tigers rotation, was not particularly efficient Monday, nor overpowering, in the Tigers' 9-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox. He lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up three hits, three walks and he hit a batter.
But in the end, only three runs crossed.
“It could have been a lot better,” he said. “It also could have been a lot worse.”
It wasn’t worse, in a large part, because he competed his tail off and, despite not having his usual command, limited the damage.
“I think he knew he didn’t have his best stuff,” catcher James McCann said. “It was almost like he was searching, trying to find it. That happens. But he still kept us in the game.”
That Lewicki was at 82 pitches with two on and two outs in the fifth inning when he was pulled speaks to his command issues. Sixteen of his first 27 pitches were balls. This from a guy who has been a 65-percent strike-thrower this season.
“The pace just wasn’t there,” Gardenhire said. “I think if he could have just picked up the pace it would’ve been better. There was a lot of thinking in between pitches. It just never felt like it ever got going.
“That’s when I took him out when I did. It seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere.”
If it seemed like Lewicki was fighting himself on the mound, it’s because he was.
“I don’t think I ever repeated my delivery three times in a row one time,” he said. “When you can’t repeat your delivery, you don’t know where the ball is going. … I couldn’t get into a rhythm. And if you don’t have a rhythm, you can’t establish anything — your off-speed pitches or your fastball.
“That led to the command issues and it kind of snowballed from there.”
It didn’t completely snowball, though. He never caved in. He gave up all three runs in the third inning. A double by Adam Engel, a hit batsman and a single loaded the bases with no outs.
Two runs scored on sacrifice flies and another scored on a ground ball to the shortstop position that looked like it’d be a double-play ball, but the Tigers had shifted. Nobody home.
He was also helped out by McCann, who threw out two prospective base-stealers.
“I’m really happy these guys picked me up and we got the win,” Lewicki said. “That’s all that matters.”
Lewicki left with two on and two out in the fifth inning, with the Tigers down 3-2. Drew VerHagen needed one pitch to quell the rally.
“He will put this one behind him,” Gardenhire said. “And he’ll be back out there in five days.”