Friday, August 10, 2007

Season Slipping Away

All through the Tigers streak of poor play, I had felt that they would snap out of it the next night or the next series. That is, until they lost the last 2 games of the Devil Ray series 7-1 and 8-1. Although they split the series, the way they played against one of the weakest teams in baseball sapped much of my enthusiasm for the team. They are are only a game and a half behind so there is still hope but with their whole bullpen and now starting staff in shambles, it's hard to look forward with much optimism.

The offense did show some signs of life tonight but the pitching didn't. After falling behind 8-1 in the 4th inning against the Athletics, a solo home run by Gary Sheffield and a grand slam by Marcus Thames gave them a 5 run 4th and closed the gap to 8-6. They followed with 3 more runs in the 5th capped by a 2 run double by Magglio Ordonez to take a 9-8 lead. For a brief moment, the great comeback energized the Tigers dugout and the crowd was roaring. Tigers fans had thoughts that this might be the rally that would turn the season around.

Reality quickly returned in the top of the 6th as the Athletics exploded for a touchdown and a 2 point conversion to go up 16-9. Macay McBride who had just completed 2 scoreless innings went out for a 3rd inning, something which he never does. He loaded the bases, was still left in there, and then gave up a 430 foot grand slam to Jack Cust (7 RBI for the night) to center field. Zack Miner followed and was rocked for 4 more runs. Jason Grilli was not brought into the game in this inning only because he had pitched earlier and already contributed a run and 3 hits to the early 7 run deficit. Eventually, the game ended and the Tigers lost 16-10.

It was another awful performance by a Tigers starter. This time it was Jordan Tata who lasted just 2 innings and allowed 7 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. In the last 22 games, the starters have a 7.71 ERA in 119 innings. In that time, they have only 4 quality starts (3 or fewer earned runs, 6 or more innings pitched) - 2 by Nate Robertson and 1 apiece by Justin Verlander and Tata.

This has been one of my most negative posts of the the season so I'll end with some positives from tonight:
  • Fernando Rodney pitched a 1-2-3 9th. He has now allowed just 1 base runner and no runs in 3 innings since returning from the disabled list.
  • Gary Sheffield went 2 for 5 and his homer was his first since July 20th.
  • Curtis Granderson went 2 for 5 including his 18th triple of the year.
  • Magglio Ordonez had 3 hits in 5 trips including 2 doubles. He now has 41 two baggers on the season.
  • Cameron Maybin homered in his first game for AA Erie tonight

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