Jeremy Bonderman pitched one of his best games as a Tiger tonight. He went 8 innings, allowing just one run on 6 hits and a walk with a career high 12 strike outs. Unfortunately his mates came up short against Devil Ray starter Mark Hendrickson who pitched a one hitter for 8 innings and the the Tigers were down 1-0 going into the bottom of the 9th. They managed to tie it in the 9th off Hendrickson when Ivan Rodriguez reached on an infield hit and came around on an error and a bloop single by Marcus Thames.
Joel Zumaya took over where Bonderman left off allowing no runs and no hits and striking out 5 in the 9th and 10th innings. That's 17 strikeouts in 10 innings for the two young fireballers. Strangely, two of the batters Zumaya struck out reached base when the ball got by the catcher Rodriguez. He got out of bases loaded jam unscathed however.
Then Todd Jones came in to pitch in the 11th and you knew it was a matter of time before the roller coaster would crash. He pitched a 1-2-3 11th but was shelled for 4 runs in the 12th. The highlight (or lowlight) was a 3 run double by Jorge Cantu. Jones now has an ERA of 7.27 and it's now turning into a sad situation. I don't know how much longer they can keep throwing him out there in key spots.
Of course, a lot of the blame tonight goes to the Tiger batters as they managed only 5 singles off Tampa Bay pitching. Their offensive weaknesses have been exposed quite a bit lately. Two of the biggest culprits have been Chris Shelton and Craig Monroe who have gone a combined 9 for 75 with 4 walks and 34 strikeouts in the past 16 games. Shelton has not hit well at all since his hot start and Monroe, Brandon Inge and Placido Polanco have been inconsistent all year long. This is something which needs to be fixed one way or another is they want to stay in contention.
Well, that's a lot of criticism for the team with the best record in baseball. I'm just concerned that they've been too dependent on the their starting pitching and that they'll start to fade if their offense doesn't start producing more. Oh yeah.... something needs to be done about Mr. Jones too.