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Plenty of blame to go around: Pin a 1-0 Tigers loss to the Red Sox on Leyland, the offense and bullpen

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Final - 5.18.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1
Boston Red Sox 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 1 4 0
WP: Daniel Bard (1 - 3)
SV: Jonathan Papelbon (8)
LP: Daniel Schlereth (0 - 1)

Complete Coverage >


BOX

KEY STAT

Tigers batting with RISP: 0-10.

They couldn't even get themselves a freaking sacrifice fly.

KEY PLAY

Scott Sizemore's sacrifice bunt in the 6th.

Jim Leyland out thought himself in a big way, breaking out the small ball too early. Austin Jackson led off the 6th inning with a double. Scott Sizemore was asked to sacrifice him to 3rd. Uh...I have a question. Jackson can't score from 2nd on a single? Regardless, he was moved over, giving up the out.

Unfortunately, the bunt didn't do anything more than give the Sox a free out. Brennan Boesch and the struggling Miguel Cabrera went down meekly to end the inning. Who was left holding a bat on his shoulder, left standing on deck? The Tigers' hottest hitter, Victor Martinez. That's small ball for you. Any chance of a big inning went out the window with the bunt.

I'd rather take my chances with Sizemore, Boesch and Cabrera swinging away with a speedy Jackson on 2nd base, thank you very much.

Nothing sticks in my craw more than giving away outs in the middle innings, but that has been Leyland's go-to strategy as of late.

KEY THOUGHTS

Losses don't get more frustrating than tonight's. Especially for Phil Coke, who had a marvelous start (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K), the best of his career. For the second loss in a row, the Tigers' starting pitcher deserved better. Much, much better.

Actually, so did the Red Sox starter, Clay Buchholz, who also tossed seven scoreless innings without getting a decision. But how much better was Coke? Coke only needed 78 pitches through seven, to Buchholz's 127.

Ryan Perry took over for Coke to the start the 8th, and got the first two outs fairly easily. But Leyland started over thinking again, and decided he wanted a righty - lefty matchup. He brought in inconsistent left hander Daniel Schlereth to pitch to the left hand hitting Carl Crawford.

It never, ever ends well when you give up late game walks. It's even more inexcusable when you walk a bottom of the order batter with two out. Scherleth allowed a base on balls to the badly slumping Crawford, batting 8th. Jarrod Saltalamacchia then drilled a liner high off the wall in left center, the game winning RBI double.The eight and nine hitters beat the Tigers. As I said, inexcusable.

So much for Schlereth being part of the 8th inning setup committee.

Of course, Al Alburquerque relieved Schlereth (after he hit Jacoby Ellsbury with a pitch to finish off a lousy evening) and got the one out that was needed. But it was one out too late.

But one Tiger wouldn't go down quietly. Martinez led off the 9th with a double. Jhonny Peralta moved him to 3rd with a ground out. But Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon proceeded to blow away Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn, striking both out.

Leyland, the offense, and the bullpen have all had better games. The fact it went down in Boston, in the mist, fog and rain, after a 26 minute delay, in over three hours, made the loss all the more excruciating.