Defense was supposed to be the difference between this year's Detroit Tigers and last year's edition. And for the most part, the product has been as advertised. But when you don't score a lot of runs, that margin for error gets tight.
Did we say "error"?
Defensive lapses were really the difference in this afternoon's 3-1 loss to the Rays. Adam Everett's second-inning error didn't lead to a run, but it extended an inning for a starting pitcher who's still building up to his previous stamina.
But the key slip-up was in the third, when the Tigers should've escaped with only one run allowed. Gerald Laird let a pitch in the dirt skip past him, and instead of making the third out of the inning, Pat Burrell was safe at first. Carlos Pena followed with a RBI single, and the Rays had all the runs they needed.
David Price pitched what might have been his best game of the season, allowing just one run and five hits. As mentioned in our game preview, Price can beat himself with high pitch counts. But the Tigers aren't the kind of team that makes opposing pitchers work. And Price cruised past the seventh inning for the first time this year, throwing 106 pitches.
The Tigers really only had one good opportunity to score in the third inning, putting runners on second and third with one out. But Curtis Granderson struck out and Placido Polanco popped out, and Price didn't give Detroit any more chances from there.
Nate Robertson pitched as well as could be expected, considering he was making his first start of the year (and first since last September). Two runs and four hits over four innings (and 70 pitches) should hardly have been a losing effort.
But if Robertson's going to rejoin the Tigers' starting rotation, he might as well get used to having his efforts wasted by poor run support. It's been kind of a theme this year. (And really, it's been a theme for Nate throughout his Tigers career.)
Comment of the Day:
has nothing to do with Nate Robertson.