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Braves 5, Tigers 3: Offense comes up short in rough night for the bullpen

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Zimmermann wasn’t awful, but he left earlier than the bullpen could afford.

Detroit Tigers v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin Liles/Getty Images

Jordan Zimmermann was alright in his first actual start in a while, but the Tigers offense fell asleep at the wheel. With the bullpen struggling and no run support, the Tigers lost 5-3 to the Braves with the tying run at the plate, unable to gain precious ground for the final Wild Card spot.

Zimmermann wasn't the issue, the offense was. Against Braves starter Aaron Blair and his 8.02 ERA, the Tigers' bats had nothing. Blair has given up an average of 11 hits per nine in his 14 starts entering Saturday night, with a 4.6 BB/9 and nearly two homers in the same. He hadn't struck out more than five batters in a start, yet the Tigers whiffed throughout the night.

But this isn't the first time the Tigers have done this. It's been their modus operandi for much of the season. Facing aces, they've done damage, but when it comes to the struggling pitchers the team has come up empty far too often. The same was the case this time around, and all they managed was an RBI double by Ian Kinsler, and a blasted 114-mph home run by Justin Upton.

To speak nothing of Zimmermann, who merely hit his endurance wall after being on the disabled list for so long, the bullpen was frayed enough to cough up three runs. The last thing the Tigers needed was a shaky 'pen, but Alex Wilson surrendered a home run to Nick Markakis, and Shane Greene gave up two in just a third of an inning.

But of a truth, even with the bullpen’s struggles, the offense squandered quality scoring chances — the bases loaded eighth-inning mess to top it off.

ROARS:

Justin Upton: Homered in the seventh to make it a one-run game at the time.

Ian Kinsler: Had just one hit and a walk, but his knock drove in a run on a double in the third.

HISSES:

Tigers offense: Just five hits but had the bases loaded and a couple of other scoring opportunities. They also had nothing against a struggling starter and struck out 10 times against Blair, who set a new career high because of their lack of efforts.

Bullpen: Kyle Ryan and Justin Wilson escape criticism in this because they didn’t allow a run, but Alex Wilson and Shane Greene struggled mightily. They gave up a combined three runs on four hits in 2 13 innings.

J.D. Martinez: He gets his own hiss, because he struck out thrice and grounded into the eighth-inning bases-loaded inning-ending double play. That’s about as awful of a night as one can have.

STATS AND REACTIONS:
  • Justin Upton's home run in the seventh was his 31st of the season, tying a career high, which he set back in 2011 when he was with the Diamondbacks.
  • Shane Greene has been a shell of his former self, having fallen off the edge of serviceability. Since he gave up a three-spot on Aug. 17 — the first time he'd done so since June 17 — he's put up an egregious 9.17 ERA with just 18 strikeouts in 16 games pitched entering Saturday's game. Opposing batters are hitting .329 off of him in that time, and reaching at an alarming .390 percentage. Perhaps the only positive is that he'd not allowed all nine inherited runners to score — though he's gotten himself into enough trouble on his own.
  • After going on a tear in his return from the DL, J.D. Martinez has hit a dry spell. Since Sept. 11 he's batting just .209/.295/.358 entering play on Saturday, with 22 strikeouts (not counting tonight) and only two home runs in 18 games. He's walked only nine times and knocked four doubles, scoring six runs.
  • Drawing the infield in rarely works, and it’s a ridiculous idea in the first place. Just don’t do it.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:

Source: FanGraphs