DETROIT -- One of the major reasons behind Doug Fister's dominant run of pitching down the stretch last year after his trade to the Tigers was pitching coach Jeff Jones' encouragement to have him throw more curveballs. Now that Fister looks like he's rounding back into that form, his curveball is a big reason behind his resurgence.
Fister threw almost as many curveballs (24) as sinkers (29) during Saturday night's game against the Indians, according to data from MLB.com's Gameday. More important, he threw 14 of them for strikes, including five swings and misses, according to brooksbaseball.net. It's an uptick from his season average of curveballs, which he throws about once every five pitches.
"He did what he always does. He pitches ahead, changes speed and has that good curveball," Indians manager Manny Acta said after the game. "He pretty much just manhandled us."
The curveball looked sharper than it has for most of the summer. Jones noted on Saturday that he has seen better curveballs from Fister over his last couple starts. It isn't something they've emphasized during side sessions. Rather, Jones believes the improvement has come about with time and repetition now that he has been healthy for nearly two months.
More impressive to Leyland was the fact that Fister worked through the Indians' lineup with so few pitches, reaching just two three-ball counts all night.
"You saw a masterpiece last night," Leyland said on Sunday morning. "That's about as good as you're going to see without being a dominant stuff guy. That was the art of pitching at its best."
Right thumb sprain sends Raburn to DL
DETROIT -- It continues to be a frustrating season for Tigers second baseman/outfielder Ryan Raburn, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday morning with a right thumb sprain.
The injury occurred during the team's road trip in Cleveland. However, it first appeared Raburn would be OK, manager Jim Leyland said.
"We thought it was going to be fine," Leyland said. "But it's not."
Despite receiving daily treatment, the injury progressively got worse, resulting in the DL stint.
"He can't grip the bat," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. "He first felt it working out. He's been able to kind of work with it a little bit. It's been bothering him off and on, and then it just got gradually sore over the last few days."
The move is retroactive to Aug. 1, meaning Raburn will be eligible to return when the team begins a three-team, nine-game homestand on Aug. 17. Raburn is hitting .172 this season with 12 RBIs. He's started only two games since July 21.
As a result, Danny Worth was recalled from Triple-A Toledo for a team-high fifth time this season. Worth said he got the call late Saturday night, and he was one of the first in the clubhouse early Sunday.
Asked if the constant back and forth gets frustrating, the 26-year-old Worth said, "No. It's just playing. [I'll] take what they give me and keep on trying to improve. Hopefully, I can be up here on a full-time basis in the future some time."
Worth had to quickly settle in, as he started at second base and hit ninth.
Leyland trying to help Cabrera rest ailing leg
DETROIT -- During the Boston series, Miguel Cabrera fouled a ball off his left shin and, as a result, the third baseman has been experiencing some "drainage" in his ankle, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said on Sunday morning.
"He's just getting some drainage in his ankle from that," Rand said. "His [lower] leg gets sore just the more he's on it."
Therefore, manager Jim Leyland wants to get Cabrera off his feet as much as he can. He's subbed Cabrera out defensively late in the past two games, shifting Omar Infante to third base each time. He also saw a perfect chance to give Cabrera a day as the designated hitter on Sunday vs. Indians left-hander Chris Seddon.
"He doesn't like to particularly DH day games, but this is a good little [opportunity]," Leyland said. "You try to use a little sense."
Infante started at third, while Danny Worth played second base and Delmon Young got a rare day in left field. With Ryan Raburn's injury, Leyland said he considered starting Infante in the outfield -- where he hasn't played since 2010 -- but decided to rest Cabrera instead.
It's Cabrera's fourth start of the season at DH. He is 3-for-12 (.250) with a double and one RBI. He was the DH seven times in 2011, and went 5-for-26 (.192) with no extra-base hits and an RBI.
Stats say Young becoming more selective
DETROIT -- Is Delmon Young quietly getting more selective at the plate? Time will give a better sample size, but the numbers over the past week and a half are somewhat startling.
Young had just eight walks in 82 games as of the Fourth of July, but he has had six walks in his last nine games entering Sunday's series finale against the Indians. He actually has as many walks as hits during that span. None of those walks have been intentional.
Before anyone credits the recent lineup move, note that only one those walks have come since Young moved down to sixth in the batting order behind Brennan Boesch.
The stretch has pulled him off the pace for the lowest ratio of walks per plate appearance this year. His .038 ratio ranks fourth among American League hitters, trailing White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez (.024), Boston infielder Mike Aviles (.034) and Ichiro Suzuki (.036). Young's walks-to-strikeouts ratio (0.21) remains third-lowest behind Ramirez (0.19) and Baltimore's Chris Davis (0.20).
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.