Uh-oh. The bad road team is back.
In recent weeks, it was looking like the Detroit Tigers had finally triumphed over whatever demons plagued them on the road. But the bad juju seems to have found them again in Kansas City.
Tuesday night, relief pitching and outfield defense greatly contributed to Detroit's 7-5 loss. Last night, the bats were non-existent against Robinson Tejeda. Tejeda was on quite a roll coming into the game, having thrown 13 scoreless innings (in which he allowed only two hits). And the Tigers weren't the team to knock him off that track.
Tejeda shut Detroit out for six innings, holding them to just three hits with eight strikeouts. The Tigers' best chance to break through against came in the sixth, when Carlos Guillen was on third base with one out. Aubrey Huff hit a ball hard, but right at the second baseman. And Clete Thomas followed up with a strikeout.
Thanks to the missing offense, Justin Verlander couldn't get the win in his third straight pitching duel. Once again, he held the opposition to only one run. In six innings, he struck out eight Royals batters and allowed six hits. But this time, the Tigers' lineup couldn't break through in the later innings. (Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann may have looked on with envy. Especially after the Rays' bullpen blew yet another game for him.) You hate to see an effort like Verlander's wasted.
It was another rough night for the Tigers' bullpen. This time, the culprit was Fernando Rodney, who was curiously used to pitch the eighth inning, instead of being saved for the ninth. Pitching Rodney in a non-save situation, where his ERA is 5.46, was playing with fire. And this decision burned them. Rodney couldn't even finish the eighth inning, giving up three runs on two hits and a walk. And the Royals gave him an out, with a sacrifice bunt.
Rodney looked like a guy who hadn't worked in four days, and that was the justification Jim Leyland used after the game for pitching him. And if Rodney ends up serving his three-game suspension, it would've been even longer before he pitched.
I understand why the Tigers want to fight this suspension on principle. They feel the penalty is unfair. I also realize that it was a 2-0 game when Rodney came in, and Leyland probably wanted to use his best guys available. But with Rodney not pitching on Tuesday night, would it have been better to just keep him out the next two games and serve his sentence?
Comment of the Night:
is Grienke making an unscheduled start?? That could be the only explanation here
Apologies for the slowed-down GameThread last night. I know it was frustrating. But as Kurt mentioned in the post-game thread, there was a good reason for it. SB Nation has a new home page.