Without his patented goggles but sporting a new windup and two-toned goatee, veteran right-hander Jose Valverde converted his first save of the 2013 season on Wednesday night as the Tigers defeated the Royals 7-5 at Detroit’s Comerica Park.
It was his first appearance since being promoted late Tuesday to the major leagues and he retired all three batters he faced — Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler — in order, throwing 18 pitches.
Valverde looked awful in last year’s postseason and couldn’t find a job this winter, but the Tigers decided in early April to bring him back on a minor league contract. He showed decent movement and velocity on Wednesday night against the Royals, even hitting 95 mph with his fastball at one point.
Joaquin Benoit has been shifted back to a setup role. He went 1 1/3 scoreless frames Wednesday.
ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.
Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.
The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.
The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.
Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.
Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).