"No squandering!" is a popular mantra in the BYB GameThreads. Unfortunately, one of the reasons it's become so popular is because the Detroit Tigers do the exact opposite. They squander. They trifle. They fritter. They waste.
Oh, did the Tigers waste one tonight.
Armando Galarraga pitched the game we've been waiting to see from him since April, allowing just one run and five hits over seven innings. He also struck out seven Royals batters, tying his second-highest total of the season. If Galarraga begins to pitch like that consistently again, that's a huge boost to the Tigers' playoff chances.
But the lineup also needs to score runs consistently. Until it does, efforts like Galarraga's are going to be wasted. We've already seen this far too much already. Marcus Thames and Ryan Raburn brought their big bats tonight, combining for two homers and three RBIs, and that was almost enough to push Detroit to a win. But without a timely hit from anyone else in the batting order, the Tigers couldn't capitalize on Gil Meche, who issued five walks in his 5.2 innings, yet escaped with only two runs allowed.
There's plenty of other blame to go around, however. It also doesn't help when your bullpen gives up three runs in the late innings. Joel Zumaya had pitched well in his last two outings, but relapsed back into a reliever who just can't be trusted with the game on the line. And if you didn't know already, Fernando Rodney reminded everyone that he's anything but reliable when pitching in a non-save situation.
With this loss (the first in their last nine home games), both the Twins and White Sox cut a half-game off the Tigers' AL Central lead, instead of Detroit adding a bit to their first-place margin.
We already laid blame at Zumaya and Rodney's feet, but it bears mentioning again. Because a lock-down bullpen takes care of a game like this, even if the offense can't come up with an insurance run to pad the lead. And tonight was yet another reminder that while the bullpen has been pretty good on several nights, it's not consistent enough to be dependable.
Both Zumaya and Rodney pitched well on Friday night in Minnesota, giving the Tigers a chance to win an extra-inning marathon. That shouldn't be discounted. But it also shouldn't let them off the hook for blowing this game. No team's going to win when their late-inning relief gives up three runs and four hits in two innings.
Comment of the Night:
That is the theme for tonight.