This will probably become an old line very soon (though hopefully, we don't have to use it very often), but last night's loss had a very 2008 feel to it. The starting pitcher couldn't pitch deep into the ballgame, yielding to a soft middle of the bullpen that just wasn't capable of cutting off the bleeding. The infield defense made several ground balls an adventure. (Though the Angels' speed probably had something to do with that.) And the lineup made a mediocre opposing pitcher look good.
Whether it was because the Tigers had already mentally boarded the plane out of the Pacific time zone (even Jim Leyland was complaining about having to play at night, rather than getting away during the day), or it was just one of those nights that happens during a 162-game schedule in which everything that can go wrong seems to do so, this was an ugly ballgame. We got our first glimpse of the Edwin Jackson that Rays fans and baseball observers had warned us about, someone who could be inconsistent with his location.
Rather than the pitcher we saw in Seattle, who controlled the lower half of the strike zone and never gave hitters a chance to consistently get a bat on the ball, Jackson frequently left pitches up high, where Angels batters could easily smack them around the field. This was most evident in the fourth inning, in which Jackson allowed three consecutive singles (one of which should've been an error) to load the bases, and then walked two of the next three batters to bring in two Angels runs.
If every pitcher is due for a bad game, Jackson definitely had his last night. (Let's just hope he got it out of his system, like the flu he was fighting last week.)
Was the game already out of hand by the sixth inning? If so, then I understand Leyland bringing in Eddie Bonine to mop up. But down 5-2, the Tigers were still arguably in the game (and managed a rally one inning later), so why not bring in someone with a little more experience, such as Nate Robertson? Did Leyland think a sinkerballer like Bonine was more likely to put out the fire? (If that was the thinking, had Leyland been watching the Angels beat out ground balls, and the left side of his infield treat the baseball like a hot potato?)
As Kurt asked me during the game, what is the point of having Robertson on the roster if he's not going to be used in that situation? Did he fall into a crevice during the earthquake? Was he still looking for the glasses that Armando Galarraga had apparently stolen from him the night before? Did he steal Leyland's microbead travel pillow during the flight out to the west coast?
Maybe Bonine was getting one more shot before he's likely to head back to Toledo upon Joel Zumaya's return, and Leyland preferred to save Robertson for this weekend's series with the Royals. Who knows? We're just fumbling to explain something that didn't make a whole lot of sense.
After the Tigers had cut the deficit to 6-5 in the top of the seventh, and Bonine retired the first two Angels hitters in the bottom of the inning, the game fell out of reach for good. The next three batters reached base, each of them eventually resulting in runs. The big blow was a Chone Figgins bunt that Miguel Cabrera tossed wide to first base, allowing two runners to score.
Comment of the Night:
Are we allowed to just walk off the field
and catch an earlier flight?by Trysdor