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Flirting With Dystopia: Devil Rays 8, Tigers 1

I really should begin and end this post with Mike McClary's text message to me: "What the hell is going on with this team?"

While driving around town today (and contemplating veering my car into a tree when the score became 8-0), it occurred to me that the Tigers might actually be lucky that they weren't swept in this series. And Tampa Bay has been a terrible road team this season. Just let that sit in your mouth for a second. Okay, you can spit it out now because it's like a dead rat.

I don't want to live in a world where we console ourselves with a split at home against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. That's dystopia, man. "An imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad." Remember when Neo swallowed the red pill in The Matrix?

It's enough to make you want to take the blue pill. Is that what last season was? A blue pill to this season's red pill? Have I taken this metaphor as far as it can go?

I don't want to knock the Rays, because that could be a good team in a couple of years. With all that fantastic position player talent (although it seems to be concentrated in the outfield these days), they'd have a chance if they could just get some starting pitching. And over the last two games, that's exactly what they've gotten. Depending on who you talk to, either James Shields or Scott Kazmir is the Tampa Bay ace right now, and the Tigers had to face them in consecutive games. I'd like to cut them a break for that. However, it wasn't too long ago when it didn't matter who pitched against this lineup; they were going to get a Detroit beatdown.

Kazmir was fantastic today against a batting order that previously mashed left-handed pitching, giving up just three hits in seven innings. The Tigers didn't have a chance in this game until Kazmir gave way to the bullpen. But by then (after the Rays added four more runs in the top of the seventh), the score was 8-0. Gary Glover pitched like he was ready to let Detroit right back into the game, but all they could manage was one run, thanks largely to a double-play ball.

Bright side? Give me a minute. Marcus Thames got two hits in his first game back from the disabled list. Craig Monroe didn't go hitless. The bullpen didn't give up an earned run in three innings. But the scoreboard renders all of that meaningless.

The slump continues. And for Tigers fans, it's getting more difficult to keep it down while watching this stuff. Four more games to get this thing working again until the 13-game stretch against the Indians and Yankees that could end up deciding their season.

We're probably beyond this point, but when do we start asking some tough questions about Jeremy Bonderman? Mark alluded to this after Bondo's last start: How long before he goes on the DL with the latest case of "tired arm"? This is now four straight bad starts. (And "bad" is being diplomatic, really.) Today was the fifth consecutive game in which he's given up eight hits or more.

And it was apparent early that this was going to be a long day for him. He only (only!) gave up one run in the first inning, but threw 30 pitches. Bonderman seemed to settle down for the next two innings, giving up just two hits. But he ran out of gas by the fifth, and it was pretty much over from there.

Have Michigan state troopers confirmed that Carl Crawford has indeed left the area? He should be registered in this state as a dangerous weapon. Crawford went 11-for-18 in the series, including a home run today to emphasize his dominance over Tigers pitching.