Luke French deserved better. That's the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about the Tigers' 5-3 loss on Friday night to the Yankees. Not much more could've been from him, pitching at Yankee Stadium in just his third major league start.
French gave up just one earned run in his five innings (the Yankees' second run scored when Josh Anderson let Mark Teixeira's single whistle through his legs), and didn't allow a hit in two of those frames. Should the Tigers have scored more runs for him? Maybe, especially in the fifth, when A.J. Burnett walked two straight batters. But when Detroit had a runner on third with fewer than two outs, they drove him home. And that was almost enough for French.
Joel Zumaya, on the other hand, probably deserves a demotion. That's the other thought that surely occurs to anyone who watched his seventh-inning meltdown. Given how he's pitched lately, no Tigers fan could've felt good about Zumaya facing the Yankees with a one-run lead. And unfortunately, Zumaya confirmed those fears very quickly. (In 11 pitches, to be exact.) After allowing a single to Derek Jeter and a double to Johnny Damon, he missed three times trying to pitch Teixeira up-and-in.
Needing to throw some strikes (and not wanting to load the bases), Zumaya then served up two pitches low-and-in, typically a hot zone for a left-handed hitter. Teixeira launched the second one, which was in almost the exact same location as the first, into the second deck for a three-run homer and a two-run lead.
And the damage could've been even worse. After Teixeira's homer, Zumaya put three of the next five batters he faced on base. Fortunately, Melky Cabrera helped him out by grounding out to second base on the second pitch.
But should this be the last time Jim Leyland trusts Zumaya with a narrow lead late in a ballgame until he proves he can pitch a clean inning? Since a seemingly redemptive scoreless two-plus inning performance in Minnesota two weeks ago, Zumaya has given up five runs, seven hits, and four walks over his last 2.1 innings (four appearances) and blown two leads. He's blown four leads in his past nine outings. That's anything but relief.
Here's the difference in the ballgame: Zumaya took over for French and gave up three runs. Phil Hughes took over for Burnett and pitched two scoreless innings with six strikeouts. Which team is going to win, under those circumstances?
Comment of the Night:
When you predict impending doom before it occurs, that's probably worthy of the COTN.
do not want!!
And here is your runner-up, which provided a good laugh.