The Tigers lost their second straight game to the Indians 6-3 this afternoon. Justin Verlander left after 6 innings with a 3-2 lead but the bullpen could not hold it. The Indians tied it 3-3 in the 7th when Bobby Seay gave up a triple to Grady Sizemore and a double to Casey Blake. Jason Grilli then got torched for 3 runs in the 8th to make it 6-3. He allowed a 2 run homer to David Dellucci and then left the game after Ryan Garko lined a double off his knee. Garko eventually scored when Tim Byrdak allowed a single and a sacrifice fly.
Seay? Grilli ? Byrdak? Why are these guys pitching key roles for a contender in the biggest series of the year so far? Injuries continue to mount and the bullpen is getting to be a big problem. They lost another reliever when Fernando Rodney was placed on the 15 day disabled list with biceps tendonitis. It's not supposed to be serious but any kind of arm injury to a pitcher is always concern. He was replaced on the roster by Zach Miner.
They now have the following pitchers to pitch between the starters and closer Todd Jones: Tim Byrdak, Bobby Seay, Wil Ledezma, Jason Grilli (who I suspect will miss some time after being hit in the knee today), Zach Miner and Jose Mesa. That is not the bullpen you would expect from a championship team. Many fans have pointed out that the Tigers have done well despite the injuries and the loss of Jamie Walker and they are right. However, they have won despite the bullpen rather than because of it.
The bullpen becomes less important when you are pounding the ball as they have been doing this month. While their offense is improved this year, they can't be expected to keep up at the same pace of recent weeks all year long. Once they start getting locked up in some lower scoring games against strong teams, the bullpen weakness will likely become more obvious. I said before that I believe that Dave Dombrowski will look for bullpen help outside the organization at some point and I still believe that will be the case.
And if the pitching injuries were not enough, Placido Polanco left the game with a strained oblique muscle today. He is listed as day to day and there is no indication that it is serious but oblique strains can linger so stay tuned. Losing Polanco for an extended period would likely mean a lot of at bats for Neifi Perez which is not a good thing.
Game 3 of the series will be tomorrow night on ESPN and will feature Fausto Carmona versus Mike Maroth.