This whole season hasn't been easy for the Detroit Tigers, so why should its last week be any different?
With a chance to win two out of three in their final road series of the season, and the possibility of adding a game to their lead over the Twins in the AL Central, two of the Tigers' most dependable pitchers let them down. Edwin Jackson pitched well for five innings, allowing one run and two hits. And the Tigers' lineup twice gave him a narrow one-run lead.
But beginning in the sixth inning, Jackson left the ball up in the strike zone (perhaps a sign he was tiring out), and that got him in trouble. Alex Rios led off with a double, Scott Podsednik followed with a triple, and Gordon Beckham hit another double, resulting in two runs and the White Sox regaining the lead.
Jackson stayed in the game for one more inning, perhaps an attempt by Jim Leyland to see if the Tigers could at least tie the game and take Jackson off the hook for a loss. (Or Leyland didn't want to tap out the bullpen any further, after almost six innings of work last night.)
But he had to come out of the game eventually, and with Brandon Lyon pitching two innings on Saturday, Leyland had to use Fernando Rodney. (Rodney also needed the work, having not pitched since Thursday.) Using him in a non-save situation (as his 5.40 ERA under such circumstances indicates) is often playing with fire, and the Tigers got burned for it this time.
As was the case on Thursday, Rodney had trouble locating his fastball. When he did throw a strike with it, he left the pitch out over the plate and gave up singles to Mark Kotsay and Alexei Ramirez. But Carlos Quentin waited for a change-up, and when he got one low and away, Quentin took it opposite-field for a three-run homer. That put the ballgame out of reach. No expletives from Ozzie Guillen tonight.
Fortunately for the Tigers, the loss didn't cost them any of their first-place lead, as the Twins lost 4-1 to the Royals. (Atta boy, Zack Greinke!) That reduces Detroit's magic number to six, with Minnesota visiting Comerica Park for the next four games. The biggest series of the season begins tomorrow night.
Curtis Granderson appears to be finding his stroke when the Tigers need him the most. Grandy went 3-for-4 today with a home run, giving him six hits in his last two games. Maybe the Tigers need to hypnotize him and convince Grandy he's playing in his hometown for the next four games. At least when he's at the plate.
Comment of the Day:
Be careful what you say when Rodney comes into the game...