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Ray stellar in debut
Detroit Tigers pitcher Robbie Ray throws a warm up pitch against the Houston Astros in the third inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT (AP) — Robbie Ray provided a glimpse of what the Detroit Tigers saw in him when they acquired the pitching prospect for Doug Fister.
Ray, the heralded Arkansas signee four years ago who opted to skip college, gave up one run in his major league debut and got plenty of run support, especially from Miguel Cabrera, to help Detroit rout the Houston Astros 11-4 on Tuesday night for its season-high seventh straight win.
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When Ray walked off the mound and toward the dugout in the sixth inning, he was given a standing ovation by a crowd that included his mother, father, fiancee and her family.
"I did enjoy it," he said. "I started tearing up a little bit."
Some of those same fans may have wondered what the Tigers were thinking when they traded a 14-game winner to Washington for the 22-year-old Ray during the offseason.
"I got the sense that before today, they didn't know who I was," Ray said.
Now, they know and 27,939 fans probably liked what they witnessed from the hard-throwing lefty.
Ray (1-0) gave up one run, five hits and a walk, and struck out five in 5 1-3 innings. He probably earned another turn in the rotation because Anibal Sanchez is on the disabled list with a cut on his right middle finger.
"I'd be surprised if it was somebody else," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Ray responded well when Jose Altuve led off the game with a bloop down the right field line, which he turned into a double. Dexter Fowler followed with an infield single after Ray ran past first base when Cabrera tossed him the ball. With the poise Ausmus predicted he would have, Ray struck out the third and fourth batters in Houston's lineup and an inning-inning groundout got him out of the jam.
"That was a big inning," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "You have a guy who's making his first major league start on the ropes with the middle of the order coming up.
"But to his credit, he was able to get out of it."
The former Nationals prospect had a shot to have a scoreless start, but second baseman Ian Kinsler dropped a popup that allowed Fowler to score in the sixth inning.
"He's got good stuff and a good head on his shoulders," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "But people can't — or shouldn't — put pressure on the kid about being part of the Fister trade."
Cabrera homered in the first inning for his first of four hits and four RBIs. He raised his batting average to .293 after it was .206 on April 21. The reigning two-time AL MVP, who matched a season high with the four hits, had an RBI single in the seventh and a two-run double in the eighth.