Tigers manager Jim Leyland wants to ease Phil Coke in, so he didn’t use him vs. David Ortiz

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DETROIT — Based on their history against each other, no one in the Tigers bullpen made more sense to pitch to David Ortiz in eighth inning Sunday night than lefthander Phil Coke.

They had faced each other 20 times, and Ortiz was just 2 for 18 against with four strikeouts.

Coke didn’t have an explanation for how he’d managed to muzzle Ortiz. His approach was to simply, “close your eyes and let it go,” he said. “And pray.”

But with the Tigers trying to make a four-run lead stand up with two outs and the bases loaded, there were many variables in play.

Coke, who rejoined the Tigers after being sidelined with an inflamed elbow, hasn’t pitched since Sept. 18.

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