Normally, I'd probably write something about this being a relapse of the bad Tigers we saw earlier this season, with the lineup not being able to score enough runs and the bullpen giving a game away. And I'd love to include some wholly unoriginal snark about how abnormally large Petco Park is. But that's oversimplifying what happened tonight in the eighth inning.
Let's talk about Fernando Rodney, because this is a serious problem. If it's not disastrous, it's damn close. Jim Leyland can't possibly be considering putting Rodney in another game - even if it's mop-up duty - after what he did tonight. Not only were Rodney's pitches nowhere near the strike zone tonight, but he's so out of control that he almost hurt someone. The top of Jody Gerut's head was sizzling after Rodney air-mailed a fastball way above the shoulders.
And it wasn't just the fastball that Rodney couldn't control in that eighth inning; his change-up couldn't find the plate, either. Eight pitches, eight balls, two walks. You can say Rodney got squeezed on a couple of those pitches, but he also didn't demonstrate any sort of control to the umpire. You could also point out that Casey Fossum and Joel Zumaya couldn't clean up the mess Rodney created, but even if they weren't very good (Fossum was terrible, Zumaya was okay), they were asked to stop a boulder tumbling down a mountainside.
If Dontrelle Willis had to be sent to Lakeland due to his control problems, can we expect Rodney to be joining him down there by Monday? The man's ERA is 135.00. Think about that. Don't just read it, either; say it out loud.
If you saw someone make a sharp, tire-squealing u-turn on I-75 tonight, it was probably Denny Bautista, who has every reason to think he'll be wearing a Tigers uniform again very soon. Detroit has lost twice on this California road trip, and two games in their last 10. And both of those losses are on Rodney. Physical, mental - whatever the problem, the Tigers can't bear it right now.
What a fantastic turnout we had in the GameThread tonight. I don't know what it may have been like before I took over BYB last year, but that is easily the most active thread we've ever had. Some of the other SBN baseball blogs routinely have to create overflow threads, which is something we've never had to do. But I had to think about it tonight, and man, was that a nice feeling.
Thanks to spotstarters, Grant E., Zappatista, ThaWalrus9, BigAl, Boney, cannonad03, MikeMcClary, weso33 (Welcome!), Matt in Toledo, miggy4mvp, MackAveKurt, rock n rye, densogirl, spartyboy40, Axion (who stopped over from Gaslamp Ball, where I had to eat some crow), KZone (Welcome!), ahtrap, Juskimo, and slomo984 for a wild night. (And this recap would've been up a half hour ago, if not for keeping track of it.) Oh, if only the Tigers could've sent us out the door happy...