DETROIT (AP) – Jose Alvarez stood in front of his temporary locker in the Detroit clubhouse and answered questions with the same relaxed poise he showed on the mound.
“Tried to control the emotions the most I can,” the 24-year-old left-hander said. “Trust myself. I was pretty happy, this outing in the big leagues.”
Alvarez pitched six impressive innings in his major league debut, making the most of a one-day audition with the Tigers in Sunday’s 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians. He was called up to make this start when Anibal Sanchez’s shoulder acted up. Then after the game, Alvarez was sent back to the minors – but not before he impressed his manager, his teammates and a sellout crowd of 41,262.
“You certainly had to like his demeanor and his mound presence. I thought it was terrific,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He didn’t appear to be overwhelmed by anything. We kind of noticed that in spring training – this kid was pretty calm.”
Don Kelly hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth for the first-place Tigers, who completed a three-game sweep of Cleveland and lead the AL Central by 5 1/2 games over the Indians. Alvarez (1-0) held Cleveland hitless until Ryan Raburn’s fifth-inning homer. He allowed three hits and a walk and struck out seven.
Drew Smyly pitched two innings of relief. Joaquin Benoit finished for his third save.
Justin Masterson (8-5) allowed four runs in seven innings. He gave up a walk to Miguel Cabrera and a single to Prince Fielder to start the sixth. One out later, Kelly lifted a drive over the wall in right field.
Alvarez had thrown his last pitch by that point, but Kelly’s hit made him the pitcher of record.
“I can’t believe it,” Alvarez said. “My first outing and this guy gives me a good lead right after they take me out of the game.”
The Tigers have built their division lead behind terrific starting pitching.