The good news is it’s only the 9th of April. You can still procrastinate on your tax returns for a few more days and Brad Ausmus is an intelligent human who, despite the fact that he’d probably still look handsome cloaked in failure, will not likely allow Phil Coke to drape him in late inning let downs much longer. As my esteemed Walkoff friend Grey mentioned on the tweeter machine after Coke gave up a walkoff double to Carl Crawford, many managers do use April to “see what they’re working with”. That said, I could also understand if the patience of the fan base for “getting Cokey going” is basically beyond the point (pun intended) of no return. We’re nearing a place where Coke’s sole contribution to 2014 Tigers games could be the twitter account he’s inspired (@PhilCokesBrain). Which kicks off the bad news. The bullpen has cost the Tigers a few, ahem, big games and plenty of “small” games for several years, arguably. And with Bruce Rondon in jeopardy of becoming Zumaya 2.0, there’s nothing close to an inspiring solution waiting in the wings. But we’re getting off course and the future is for another post. If I had one sentence to recap tonight’s game at Dodger Stadium it would go something like this:
Max Scherzer threw seven win-worthy innings of baseball, Austin Jackson continued to hit the ball hard, including his contribution to the Tigers sixth straight game with a home run, Victor Martinez looked solid at 1st base and is still a pure pro at the plate and Rajai Davis is simply not an every day left fielder.
Alas, Scherzer’s effort was not quite enough and the Tigers dropped to 4-2 (which is really not bad, guys) with their 2nd straight loss, this one coming after they battled back in the top of the 9th to tie the game at 2 and give us all a little free baseball, whether we appreciated it or not. Max ended up with another no-decision, Joba Chamberlain took the loss with a leadoff walk in the 10th to pinch-hitter Chone Figgins, who would represent the winning run, and Phil Coke took the lion’s share of a blame which could easily be extended to a team that swung at a plenty of questionable pitches and didn’t come through with their own big hits when the opposition issued the dreaded leadoff walk.
With a solo shot in the 2nd and a game-tying double in the 9th, respectively, Austin Jackson and Victor Martinez were the Tigers hitting stars of the night. It should also be noted that Andrew Romine showed solid patience at the plate in taking two walks, on top of making several big league scoops & laser throws to help Scherzer out of a few potential jams.
The bad news column did claim another member with Torii Hunter leaving the game early due to a left knee contusion he suffered after awkwardly sliding into the wall in foul territory. As of this recap, it doesn’t appear to be a severe injury but Tyler Collins could start in right Wednesday night as a precaution.
Bouncing back to the “good”, Ian Krol looked decent in the 8th, giving up just one hit and Joba Chamberlain did flash some nastiness with his off speed stuff in the 9th, striking out the side despite an all-bark, no-bite moonshot foul ball from Juan Uribe that gave heart palpitations to more than a few Tigers fans.
In summary, whether they are caused by unexpected injury, depth issues, a confusing lack of bullpen urgency on the part of upper management or some combination thereof, this early season game shined a soft SoCal light on a few areas of vulnerability for the 2014 Tigers. For now, it’s one game in April. We’ve got one hundred and fifty six to go (sounds longer when you write it out, yes?), so don’t start dropping those life boats just yet.
Until tomorrow. Or today. It’s late and I’ve got to get started on zzz’s and saving room in my stomach for a Dodger Dog AND a Coney. Yep.
Thanks for reading and sleep tight, Tigers fans.
(P.S. – I’ll be at Dodger Stadium tomorrow and you can follow my treatment at the hands of Dodgers fans via @AdSal44 on Twitter if you’d care to. Cheers.)