Despite the best efforts of Jason Grilli, the Tigers now have two straight wins. They might be able to start one of those winning streak things if this keeps up. (Does two games constitute a streak? I say it doesn't. Not in a 162-game season.)
But there's still no such thing as a sure win as long as Grilli continues to have a job in the Detroit bullpen. I realize he's not going anywhere soon with the injuries that the pitching staff is currently dealing with, but couldn't Grilli have let us enjoy an easy win without suddenly spilling everyone's beer?
The Tigers were cruising along. Nate Robertson pitched a fine game, giving up three runs and striking out nine batters. Best of all, Nate stayed into the eighth inning, which presumably would give the bullpen a much-needed break. To be somewhat fair, Fernando Rodney wasn't going to relieve Robertson, since he pitched in the last two games. I'm not sure why Zach Miner wasn't an option, as he threw only one pitch last night. Maybe Jim Leyland wanted Grilli to get some work in. Or maybe Leyland's doctor told him he needed to get his heart rate up. Bringing Grilli in the game usually does the trick.
What a buzzkill, dude. Grilli was at his flaming gas can worst, giving up singles to the first two hitters he faced, and then teeing up a softball that Jonny Gomes blasted out of the park for a grand slam. Just like that, a four-run lead that seemed comfortable and assured was gone. And that familiar feeling of dread was back. Could the Tigers possibly blow this one?
Fortunately, they've shown some resilience the last two nights. In the bottom half of the eighth, Detroit came right back and put three runs on the board. Maybe they were helped a little bit by Dioner Navarro not doing more to block the plate when Ryan Raburn scored that seventh run, but it really didn't matter because the Tigers added two more runs after that.
It would've been a damn shame if Detroit had lost this game, because this was one of those nights when virtually everyone contributed. Curtis Granderson had two hits, as did Sean Casey. Placido Polanco had three hits, and Magglio Ordonez joined him, also scorching one of those balls to right field for a home run. You just can't lose a game like that. Fortunately, the Tigers didn't.
Is Leyland Feeling the Burn?
It looks as if Leyland has realized that Ryan Raburn absolutely has to stay in the lineup as long as his bat stays hot. Giving him the start at second base tonight, while Placido Polanco took the DH spot, seemed to affirm that belief. And Raburn most certainly didn't disappoint, going 3-for-4, knocking in two runs, and beginning the 8th inning rally with a leadoff double.
He now has a hit in his last six games, has given the lineup some much needed juice after being bogged down by the continuing struggles of Craig Monroe (who went 0-for-3 tonight), and even helps give some of the regulars some rest with his ability to play so many different positions.