The first 6 Tiger hitters reached base off of Jeff D’amico, scoring 4 times. Then the hail started to fall. Then in came Jake Westbrook who retired the next 21 Tigers on all of 82 pitches. Fortunately, Eric Wedge pulled him and the Tigers piled 6 runs on the Indians bullpen. For the Tigers, Nate Robertson had another strong outing. He scattered 5 hits and 4 walks over 6 2/3 innings while striking out 8. The walks are a bit concerning, but the other numbers look pretty impressive. Unfortunately Nate left with a two run lead which was surrenedered on two Jamie Walker pitches.
Once again, the bullpen fails to hold a lead. Their collective ERA is 4.84, which isn’t too bad. However, if you remove Nate Robertson’s 4 inning relieft stint it balloons upto 5.31. What’s more, this doesn’t include the inherited runners that were allowed to score (which I don’t happen to have at this point). I’m confident that once Urbina is all the way back, he’ll be able to effectively close games. What concerns me is that who is going to get from the 7th inning to the point Urbina can close? Is it time to recall Chris Mears or Franklyn German? And is there a lefty that can get people out? Walker was decent last year, so you’d expect him to improve. And what happens when the next Tiger starter gets shelled, and they need someone to pick up 3-4 innings? Gary Knotts is the guy know, but he’s been hit hard as well. Should the Tigers take a look at Pat Ahearne or Ariel Prieto? If the Tigers pen struggles in Minnesota, I’d expect we’ll see one of two roster moves.
Now that the bullpen has been addressed, the other issue is our rapidly shrinking outfield. Bobby Higginson apparently turned an ankle last night, and Alex Sanchez has a pulled groin. We know 2 things about Bobby and injuries. First, the guy will play in pain. Second, he’s a slow healer. In any case, he’ll probably miss a couple games. That leaves an outfield of Rondell White (good), Craig Monroe (can be good, but is struggling), and Brandon Inge (playing well, but…). The bigger issue is the cascade effect. First of all, White will be forced to play in the field for 3 games on turf, something Trammell wanted to avoid. Second, with Inge playing center that means fewer nights rest for Pudge. Third, who is going to DH? Norton? Shelton? What will probably happen is Munson will get a couple games at DH, and Infante/Norton will pick up third base.