Rumor has it that Tigers lefty Phil Coke may be headed to the bullpen, but he sure looked like a starter tonight. He battled pitch for pitch with Red Sox Starter Clay Buchholz in the rain, wind and fog at Fenway. The Tigers left-hander departed after seven shutout innings and a brief rain delay with the score tied at zero. Coke allowed only four base runners - three singles and a walk - and threw only 78 pitches. Unfortunately, he got no support from his offense or his bullpen and lost 1-0.
If it were not for the 26-minute rain delay after the seventh inning, Coke probably would have been able to go another inning or two. I think Jim Leyland did not want to risk putting him back out there in the eighth after sitting through the delay on a cold damp night. Instead, Leyland went to the pen and we were reminded why there has been talk of Coke moving back to relief.
Joaquin Benoit is no longer the eighth-inning reliever and it is unknown who will claim that role. Tonight it was Ryan Perry, who got the first two Red Sox in the eighth. Next up was the lefty specialist, Daniel Schlereth, who walked Carl Crawford. Leyland then walked out to the mound and everyone in the ballpark including Schlereth thought he was done. The Tigers southpaw started to walk off the mound towards the dugout, but his manager told him to come back.
Leyland wanted Schlereth to pitch to the switch-hitting Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who does not hit left-handers well at all. It was the right call, but it didn't work. Salty smashed a double off the green monster to score the speedy Crawford with the eventual winning run. It was his first extra base hit off a lefty so far this year.
The Tigers couldn't do anything versus Buchholz and two relievers tonight. They managed five hits including four doubles, but they failed in all ten at bats with runners in scoring position.
I had a ticket to the game tonight, but decided to stay home due to the miserable weather. Given how it turned out, I think I made the right decision.