The only bad start Doug Fister had with the Tigers last year came against Baltimore, where he gave up eight runs in 5.2 innings. This was kind of reminiscent of that, except it happened much more quickly this time. You’d think a five-run lead with Doug Fister on the mound would mean smooth sailing the rest of the way but it’s not how things played out. He was essentially done in by two things: He wasn’t sharp and he became too predictable with his curveball. There was also a problem in the second inning of Omar Quintanilla hitting what should have been an inning-ending double play that wasn’t turned, but the kiss of death was walking Taylor Teagarden, who is hitting .097 on the season. Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy made him pay for that. His curveball command wasn’t as good as it usually is, as evidenced by the fact that he walked three, a high number for him. Even when he managed a decent pitch, it became clear that the Orioles were sitting on the curveball and hit it hard somewhere quite a few times. Other than that, there’s not much to extrapolate from this game. It was a bad game after a really good stretch and right now the only thing Fister should do is take note of what went wrong, make the necessary adjustments, and move on.
One bright spot to this game was that the bullpen did a very good job, and actually the bullpen has done a lot of good work recently. There was probably a lot of groaning when Luke Putkonen came into the game, but give credit where credit is due. He ate some innings and gave the Tigers a chance with 2.1 scoreless innings. Darin Downs continues to put in some nice work, kind of under the radar, actually. Another good sign is that Brayan Villarreal looks healthy again. His velocity is back, he’s throwing strikes, his slider is wicked, and he’s had two strong outings in a row since being rested for four days. Also, Joaquin Benoit has now had three good outings in a row (and four in a row without giving up a home run), so hopefully this means the bullpen is past their little hiccup.
The offense was quite puzzling today. It looked so good in the first inning. Almost all the Tigers were hitting the ball extremely hard off Wei-Yin Chen, with the exclamation point being Jhonny Peralta’s 3-run homer. Then after that, it just stopped. It was hard for me to tell if Chen made much of an adjustment, or if the Tigers changed their approach for the worse. The only observation I can make is that late in the game, the Orioles did not pitch around Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and it paid off for them. Specifically, in the seventh inning, after the Tigers got the first two men on, Cabrera took three straight called strikes (which was also odd), and instead of pitching around Fielder, they went after him and he grounded into a double play. On the flipside, usually when you score five runs, you’re going to win. Just not today.