Weren't the Detroit Tigers supposed to be great at this Interleague Play thing? Yet here we are, staring at three straight losses to National League teams (and an overall 2-5 record this season). And last night's stumble may have been the most dismaying, because the Tigers generally win when Justin Verlander is pitching.
Of course, he's not going to be great every time. Pitchers don't always have their best stuff in a given game. Sometimes, it's a bad match-up. Whatever the reason, it just wasn't Verlander's night. And it was bad from the very beginning. Three of the first four batters he faced reached base (one on an intentional walk). He balked in a run. And after the smoke cleared, the St. Louis Cardinals had a 4-0 lead.
Verlander went on to give up five total runs and eight hits in four innings of work, one of his shortest outings of the season. This was a game in which the offense needed to help pick him up, and they're not capable of doing that right now. The Tigers have depended far too heavily on their starting pitching (particularly from Verlander and Edwin Jackson) to win ballgames, and that imbalance caught up with them in a big way last night.
The Tigers probably weren't going to win last night's game once Verlander gave up four runs in the first. But a comeback was within the realm of possibility. That is, until Nate Robertson took over in the fifth inning.
For the second time in his last three outings, Robertson came into the game like a match dropped into a puddle of gasoline. He gave up singles to the first two hitters he faced, and walked the third. Then, with the bases loaded, Robertson walked in a run. (The other three runs scored when Ryan Perry came in and served up a bases-clearing double. He wasn't very good, either.) He threw 15 pitches, and only four of them went for strikes.
In his last three appearances (totaling three innings), Robertson has given up eight runs, six hits, and four walks. Wherever Dontrelle Willis ends up after being taken out of the Tigers' rotation, Nate Robertson should be giving him a ride.
The Tigers did show some power last night, with Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge hitting home runs, though it certainly wasn't enough to overtake the deficit that the pitching staff created. (And that's not a great Cardinals lineup, folks.) Two guys (maybe three, if Jim Leyland would start Marcus Thames) can't do it by themselves every night. But if a few others can begin swinging the bats with some authority again, that could go a long way.
Comment of the Night:
We had a great turnout last night in the GameThread, and it started from the very beginning. If only the Tigers didn't put a damper on the fun right away. Still, thanks to everyone who stuck it out to the very end.
it’s going to be one of THOSE nights?