How have the Tigers become to back-up catchers what spinach is to Popeye? Last night, Kelly Shoppach knocked five extra base hits, something only eight other players in the history of baseball have done. Today, Sal Fasano - Clu Haywood mustache and all - swung a big bat, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
It wasn't the biggest bat in the Indians' lineup today, however. Grady Sizemore hit his second three-run homer of the series, part of a four-RBI day for the one shining star left in the Tribe's beleaguered lineup. But I can handle getting beaten by the guys who are supposed to beat you. Sure, I'd rather Tigers pitchers get them out. But this is what star players do. Sometimes, their guy is better than your guy. 37-year-old journeyman catchers don't often fit that description, though.
For the second straight start, Justin Verlander wasn't very good, giving up six runs in 5 2/3 innings. But what really chapped Jim Leyland this time around was Verlander's lack of control and poor pitch selection. Hitting Fasano and walking Asdrubal Cabrera made Sizemore's home run more damaging than it had to be.
“He’s got the No. 9 hitter up and Grady Sizemore on deck and he throws him a 3-2 breaking ball,” Leyland said. “That’s not acceptable. I don’t have a problem with the home run, but what happened before that was not excusable.”
With a few exceptions (Armando Galarraga, Casey Fossum, Bobby Seay), it feels like Leyland's words could be applied to his entire pitching staff during this four-game series. Clay Rapada was only due for a one-game stay with the big league club, but pouring gasoline all over Verlander's fire with three runs, three hits and two walks in just 1 2/3 innings might ensure he doesn't see Detroit again until September. He's just the latest example of how the Tigers aren't pitching well enough to get where they want to be.