Five runs, three games, three losses.
Raise your hand if you expected this against Kansas City. In fact, raise your hand if you expected this against any team. I know it's a long season, and we were down Granderson for the series and Cabrera for a game, but still. Our pitching, supposedly our team's biggest weakness, was good enough to win in all three games. No, they weren't lights out, but we only allowed 4.3 runs/gm. Our offense was supposed to be able to break the scoreboard with our run totals. Obviously, many of those predictions, especially the 1,000 run total I've been seeing, were unrealistic. Nevertheless, this Tigers squad is capable of more than 5 runs against the Royals.
You might say we missed Granderson in the leadoff slot. But, I didn't see that in this series. Our leadoff hitters were 5-13 with a walk and a RBI. A .385 avg. with .429 OBP is nothing to scoff at. Renteria had all three Tiger hits in Wednesday's loss out of the leadoff spot.
Inge has filled in quite capably in Granderson's defensive spot as well. He threw out a runner at 3rd on Wed. and a runner at home on Mon. To top it off, he moved to third today, had two hits (including a HR), and actually walked! I'd say Inge has put all that trade talk on the back burner, wouldn't you?
If you're looking for offensive problems, look no further than Pudge. Pudge is at .083 with 4 K's and no walks. Leyland expressed interest in batting Pudge first at times. I have just one thing to say to that: PLEASE, NEVER. The man was never great at drawing walks, but since he came to Detroit, he has completely given up all plate discipline. He walked 11 times in 2005 and had just 9 free passes in 2007. Players tend to gain plate discipline as they age; they compensate for slowing bat speed with a better eye to get on base. To be valuable on offense, Pudge needs to hit the ball because he doesn't get on base any other way.
I have no problems with the way our starters pitched. Bonderman actually made it through the first inning without allowing any runs. Really, they should have given us the victory then. I can't remember the last time Bondo made it through the first without giving up a hit, much less a run. He was obviously tiring though in the sixth when he gave up a homer, single, and a walk to consecutive batters. We still should have gotten out of the 7th inning jam with two outs and one on. Lopez just threw a pitch that caught too much of the plate and Guillen drove in the 4th run. I am concerned that Bondo only had 1 K. If his elbow is fully healed, and his stuff doesn't have the same electricity, he could get shelled soon.
Rogers was his usual self. Six innings, 4 Ks, 1 walk, 2 runs. You can't ask for much more from a 43-year-old. If he can provide a quality start like that most of the time, I'll be very happy.
Verlander was the most dominating of the starters. He cruised through the first five innings without allowing a run. But, Alex Gordon, like he did to Bondo today, took a tiring pitcher deep. Verlander exited after allowing a walk and a single in the 7th. Grilli and Lopez proceeded to allow both runners to score. I don't know about you, but I can't expect either of those pitchers to get out of any jams. They're fine with no one on, but put a runner on base and watch him score.
That right there is, other than our surpisingly anemic offense, the crux of our problems. Our entire bullpen, save maybe Bobby Seay, is built around pitchers who are fine with no one on. But, they wilt like Nick Anderson in '95 Finals with runners on. Leyland will need to be extremely careful when deciding to remove his starters. If he lets them go a batter too late, we're doomed until Rodney and Zumaya return. Everyone knew that our bullpen would struggle, this series merely reinforced it. All you have to do is look what Lopez did today and Monday. Both times he entered with men on and allowed a run to score. Then he pitched a scoreless inning Monday and two scoreless today. It's almost fun to watch.