The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals finished their series today and it was another pitchers duel. This time the ace’s hooked up and did not dissappoint. Accept of course if you were expecting a Tigers win.
Justin Verlander pitched seven scoreless innings scattering 3 hits and striking out 8. Verlander pitched 7 full innings for the second consecutive start and seems to be rebounding from an un-verlander like stretch of games. Although he seemed to have the game well in hand, Leyland still pulled him after the 7th, a sign that the Tigers brain trust is using a pitch count to limit his innings.
Royals ace James Shields was equally as impressive but suffered once again from lack of run support. Sheild’s went 7 strong innings giving up 2 runs on 7 hits. Shields gave the Royals a chance to win but it’s hard to win when you can’t score.
The Tigers runs were scored on a double by Brayan Pena and a single by Prince Fielder
The bullpen was a mixed bag. Drew Symly turned in another impressive outing pitching a scoreless eighth inning in place of the resting Joaquin Benoit. Then Jose Valverde was called in to close out the game in the ninth. He promptly gave up a single, got two outs then gave up a two run jack to Lorenzo Cain. Then in the bottom of the tenth Mike Moustakas singled home the game winner send the Tigers on the road with a 3-2 loss.
That was the Big Potato’s 3rd blown save of the season. It was Jim Leylands fifth bottle of Tums on the season.
Valverde’s blown save once again illustrates the Tigers biggest weakness this season: lack of consistency on the back end of the bullpen. Unfortunately, there is no immediate solution to the problem. Bruce Rodon, opening day closer, is improving in Toledo but still struggles with control. Joaquin Benoit excels as a set-up man but for some reason struggles as a closer. And Phil Coke is too inconsistent for regular ninth inning work. So it appears that the Tigers will have to look elsewhere to find their closer. Wherever they find him, they need to find him soon before this becomes a real problem.
With the loss the Detroit Tigers drop the series on the road against Kansas City. The series was highlighted by great pitching performances on both sides. It was a confidence builder for a Royals team trying to compete in the Central division. The Royals always bring their A-game when they see the Ole English D. Our boys of summer are going to have to deal with this Royals team again. Next time however the stakes may be a little higher.
The hit the road again this weekend for a three game set against the Minnesota Twins. Hopefully the Tigers can cure their Royal pains by knocking around the Twins starters.