It looked good for a while. Miguel Cabrera got his first Tiger homer, Verlander pitched a one hitter for five innings and the Tigers were up 3-0 going into the sixth. However, the Tigers left a lot men on base early against Royals starter Gil Meche and fans feared it would come back to haunt them. We also knew Verlander wasn't going to go nine innings and that a shaky bullpen would have to hold the lead. As it turned out, the lead was not big enough and the Tigers went on to lose 5-4 in 11 innings.
Two themes for the team this year will be getting enough innings from their starters and the bullpen not imploding. Verlander ran out of gas today allowing a two run homer to Alex Gordon in the sixth and leaving with two on and nobody out and a 3-2 lead in the seventh. He did OK - 6 innings , four hits , one walk, six strikeouts - but didn't go as far as some would have liked.
Not surprisingly, the bullpen could not hold the one run lead in a tough spot. Jason Grilli allowed a single to John Buck for the tying run and Aquilino Lopez allowed another single to Mark Grudzielanek for the go ahead run. The Tigers tied it in the 8th on a homer by Carlos Guillen but Denny Bautista allowed the game winner in the 11th in his 2nd inning of work. In all, the bullpen - Grilli, Bobby Seay, Lopez, Todd Jones and Denny Bautista - pitched 5 innings allowing six hits and two walks for one run (in addition to allowing two inherited runners to score). Not great but not terrible either.
The Tigers will usually need to score more than four runs to win and they will do that very frequently this year not but not today. They had 16 base runners on 10 hits and 6 walks. They had four doubles and two homers but all of this added up to just four runs. Both homers were solo shots and 10 runners were left on base. I don't think this will turn into a trend but today it was a problem.
On the plus side, Guillen had three hits and Magglio Ordonez two hits. Brandon Inge walked and doubled in place of Curtis Granderson. Gary Sheffield walked four times. Rookie Clete Thomas doubled in the 11th in his first major league at bat. Unfortunately, Thomas was stranded on third when the final out was made.
Some will blame the bullpen for this loss but they don't have a dominant pen and really it did what could reasonably be expected from a mediocre collection of relievers. They lost more because they left too many runners on the sacks and their ace starter (although he didn't pitch poorly) didn't go quite as long as they would probably like.