A bit of the rust wasn’t surprising, considering Urena hadn’t pitched since late May. He exited his previous start May 26 against Cleveland in the sixth inning with a right forearm strain, which sent him to the 10-day injured list until he was activated for Sunday’s series finale with the Chicago White Sox.
“I felt pretty good,” Urena, 29, said after his 11th outing this season. “That’s what I like. I like to compete, be out there and help the team. I feel great.”
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Urena allowed three runs (all in the secondinning) on six hits and two walks in five innings against the White Sox in his team’s 3-0 loss. He struck out one and threw 87 pitches, 57 for strikes. Without command of his slider early on, he gave up all three runs in the second inning.
“He was good,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “All in all, being off for 10 days and just throwing a couple bullpens and not having a ton of activity as he was getting healthy, I thought he gave us a nice outing.”
The White Sox’s three runs in the second were all the damage they needed to secure a win, as starter Dylan Cease (seven innings), reliever Aaron Bummer (one inning) and closer Liam Hendriks (one inning) posted zeros on the scoreboard.
The Chicago trio combined for 14 strikeouts and held Detroit’s offense to five hits and one walk. Cease finished with 10 strikeouts, Bummer had two and Hendricks recorded two, including back-to-back punchouts against Eric Haase and Nomar Mazara to end the game.
It took Urena 25 pitches to get through the second inning. He allowed a one-out triple to Adam Eaton and an ensuing single to Andrew Vaughn — giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead. With two outs, a Nick Madrigal double and Tim Anderson single put Chicago ahead by three runs.
“He made a couple mistakes up in the zone,” Hinch said. “The fastball up to Anderson that he was able to fight off, and they were able to fight off a couple other hits.”
Urena added: “You got to try to see the hitter, how they get in their approach. We see what is working and try to execute it. If you execute really good pitches and they get a base hit, a double, I’ll give them credit.”
Despite throwing 62 pitches through three innings, Urena worked around a pair of two-out singles in fourth for an 18-pitch inning. Then, he fired a scoreless fifth — in just 12 pitches — to complete his five-inning start.
Urena tossed 51 two-seam fastballs, 14 changeups, 12 four-seam fastballs and 10 sliders. He earned three swings and misses, two with his two-seamer and one with his slider, 20 called strikes and seven ground-ball outs.
“For me, I got to have my mind focused and try to keep under control,” Urena said. “Try to make early contact, try to get ahead in the count and try to execute pretty good location when I know they’re about to swing so I can get some quick outs.”
This season, Urena has a 4.25 ERA, 24 walks and 36 strikeouts in 59⅓ innings across 11 games. He signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract this past winter.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.