Friday, September 28, 2012

Tigers On The Road Again

After sweeping the Royals in a four-game series at Comerica Park, the Tigers finished the season with a 50-31 record at home.  Tonight, they hit the road for a three-game series at Minnesota and opened with a 4-2 loss.  They are now 34-42 on the road which gives them the biggest home/away differential in the American League by far.

The Bengals had their usual road problems tonight getting shut down by young lefty Scott Diamond who held them to two runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings.  They scored their only runs on a two-run homer by second baseman Omar Infante in the eighth.  They could do nothing against a Twins bullpen which easily retired all five batters.

The Tigers now have a home OPS of  .793 with 92 homers and 4.9 runs per game at home.  In contrast, they have posted an OPS of .728 with just 64 homers and 4.1 runs scored per game on the road.  Their home/road run prevention split is less extreme: 4.0 runs allowed per game at home and 4.3 on the road.

They also had their usual error in a key spot tonight when first baseman Prince Fielder booted an easy grounder to start the bottom of the seventh.  Manager Jim Leyland then left in southpaw Phil Coke one batter too long and he allowed a two-run homer to the switch-hitting Ryan Doumit.  On one hand, leaving Coke in the game forced Doumit to bat right handed which is his weaker side.  On the other hand, Coke struggles versus right handers (.390 BA, 1.011 OPS) and probably should not face them in a tie game in the late innings. 

The Twins scored their other two runs in the bottom of the eighth when rookie reliever Brayan Villarreal loaded the bases on walks and then allowed a two-run double to Doumit.  Villarreal has been good for the most part this year, but has had control troubles in high-leverage situations in recent games. 

So, the Tigers lost another road game and are now just a game ahead of the White Sox who beat the Rays tonight.  The Bengals better figure out how to win away from Comerica pretty soon, because that's where all the rest of their games will be played - two more at Minnesota and then three at Kansas City.  Meanwhile, Chicago is at home to finish the season. 

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