The Tigers lost a tough one tonight 5-4. They blew a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning tonight, came back to tie it in the ninth and then lost it in the bottom of the ninth. The same pitcher blew it both times and Jim Leyland sat there and watched. I am not usually critical of in game managerial decisions but how can you allow Brandon Lyon to give up a three run homer to lose the lead in eighth, bring him back out in the ninth, let him load the bases and then give up a game ending sacrifice fly? With a bullpen full of fresh arms, I just don't get it. With this bullpen, he has no reliable options but it was clear Lyon did not have it and Leyland needed to try something else. Lyon, obviously doesn't escape blame here. He was awful and deserved the loss.
All of this spoiled an excellent performance by Edwin Jackson. I've been preaching ad nauseam about the inadequacy of win/loss records in pitcher evaluation lately and this is a perfect example why. I've been hearing all winter how much Jackson improved last year because he won 14 games. He wasn't good last year. He was mediocre but won games thanks to run support and a strong bullpen. Tonight, he pitched great but did not get a win because the bullpen couldn't hold the lead.
Jackson threw 75 pitches over the first seven innings, 54 of them for strikes. That is amazing efficiency for a pitcher with a history a control problems. He seemed to tire in the eighth allowing a lead off homer to Scott Rolen and started having trouble with location. Still, he pitched 7 1/3 innings allowing just one walk, two hits and one earned run.
The vaunted left side of the tigers infield has not been sharp in the first two games. They did not help in the eighth tonight. Brandon Inge made an error and almost made another one. Then Everett couldn't make a play on an infield hit.
Inge made up for his error with a game tying home run in the top of the ninth, a long blast into the upper deck in left center. He also had a double and has been swinging the bat well all spring.
Miguel Cabrera had a single, a double and two walks and seems to be laying off bad pitches so far, something he failed to do last year. He swung at 34.2% of pitches outside the strike zone last year (OSWING%). The league average was only 25.4%. Previously, he had percentages of 23.1% in 2006 and 30.2% in 2007. Not surprisingly, his OBP went down as his OSWING% went up: .430, .401., .349. This is something I will be revisiting frequently this year.