The Detroit Tigers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in frustrating fashion by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and losing 3-2 in extra innings.
Once again the game the was on the line in the 9th inning when Joe Nathan took the mound and for the 6th time this season the Tigers closer blew the save.
But Joe Nathans failure wasn’t all is fault.
A large portion of the blame goes to the manager Brad Ausmus.
Max Scherzer was pitching a brilliant game and looked unhittable when his finished the 8th inning by striking out the last two Toronto Blue Jay hitters. With the way Scherzer was pitching it would have been completely justifiable to send him out finish the game with a one run lead. justifiable especially considering the state of the Tigers bullpen this season.
But instead of sticking with his ace, Brad Ausmus employed some old school strategy and sent his closer out for the ninth. Afterall that is the closers job to secure the victory with the game on the line. This is also a completely justifiable strategy. But only if you aren’t using the Tigers bullpen.
Now to be fair Joe Nathan’s failure in the ninth can be described as a combination of bad luck and poor timing. Jose Reyes hit a seeing eye single to start the Blue Jays rally in the ninth. A couple of hits later he scored to tie the game on pass ball by catcher Brayan Holladay. But that bad luck was created by Brad Ausmus’ decision to put him in the game in the first place.
Bottom line here is that Joe Nathan should be able to close a game even after working on his third consecutive day. That said Ausmus would have been better served letting Scherzer pitch the ninth considering Nathan’s recent track record. Brad Ausmus will need to make better in-game adjustments if the Tigers hope to win the world series.