Friday, April 11, 2008

Bullpen saves Tigers

The Tigers bullpen has taken a lot of heat from fans this year and deservedly so. Last night, they had perhaps their most embarrassing performance of the season walking seven batters and giving up eight runs in 2 2/3 innings in a 12-6 loss to the Red Sox. Tonight, the bullpen pitched nine innings and allowed just one run as the Tigers topped the White Sox 5-2.

How does a bullpen record 27 outs in a regulation game? Dontrelle Willis slipped and fell on a wet mound in the first inning and left the game with a hyper-extended knee. Aquilino Lopez entered the game with runners on second and third (two walks and a wild pitch by Willis) and got out of it with just one run scoring. He went on to pitch four innings allowing just one run on three hits and striking out four.

Fan favorite Jason Grilli pitched himself into a bases loaded jam with two walks and a hit batsman in the fifth but got escaped unscathed. He followed that up with two perfect innings. Denny Bautista then pitched a scoreless eighth and Todd Jones pitched a perfect ninth including two strikeouts to get the save. The composite line for the bullpen was

IP

R

ER

H

W

K

9

1

1

4

2

10


The bats showed some life for third straight night as 8 batters combined for 11 hits with Pudge Rodriguez the only one going hitless. After falling behind 2-0 early, they broke loose with a three run third highlighted by a bases loaded two out two run single by Magglio Ordonez. Hitting with runners in scoring position is something that the Tigers in general and Magglio in particular have not been doing this year. Another slow starter Miguel Cabrera also came up with a run scoring single in the eighth. He had two hits on the night.

Gary Sheffield did not start tonight due to a swollen finger so Jacque Jones was the designated hitter and Clete Thomas played left and led off. Once again, Thomas took advantage of his opportunity going two for five with a double and an RBI. He also made a beautiful throw to cut down Jermaine Dye trying to stretch a single into a double in the 8th.

Cabrera was limping around again tonight - presumably because of his quad injury. I have a feeling we may see him at designated hitter tomorrow with Brandon Inge at third and Thomas in center. As if there weren't enough injuries, Carlos Guillen seemed to strain his hamstring running to first in the ninth but stayed in the game.

Despite all the injuries, it was a good night for the Tigers and a fantastic night for a battered bullpen.

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