Talk about a heartbreaking, soul-crushing defeat. A game that was all but over, until the Tigers' bullpen blew up in a most spectacular, and painful to watch, fashion. Was today's loss in Tampa the nail in Detroit's coffin? I'm not sure, but with a bullpen doing its best imitation of the Titanic, it may well have been.
You can give Jim Leyland grief for some of his decisions over this lost weekend of baseball, but I have no problem with his taking Armando Galarraga out of the game after 7 innings. Why? Tampa was starting to tag Galarraga, as he struggled somewhat in the in 7th, allowing a run. After 100 pitches, as good as he had been, Armando was likely gassed.
Leyand had Kyle Farnsworth ready and waiting in the wings. This was the exact sort of late inning situation Farnsworth was expressly brought back to Detroit to handle. It looked as if Leyland was correct in his strategy. Unfortunately, Farnsworth didn't handle the pressure well, thanks to his one extremely large and well-known drawback. His propensity to give up the home run. Or in this case, home runs. We now know why Yankee fans were more than happy to see Farnsworth go.
Then we had another adventurous (to put it mildly) Fernando Rodney appearance after an uneventful 9th for the Tigers' best reliever as of late, Bobby Seay. At this point, with Rodney going to a 3-2 count on every batter he faces, then walking the vast majority, I think we've seen the end of the Rodney as closer experiment. He just doesn't throw strikes. Not at a rate conducive to low pitch counts and 1-2-3 innings. FSD cut to Leyland on the bench as Rodney was imploding. He looked as if he were on the verge of blowing a blood vessel.
Which leaves us the question, if not Rodney, then who? Joel Zumaya is on the shelf...AGAIN. Let alone his control has been Rodney-esque. Speaking of which, the fans would rather see Rodney DFA'ed than close any more games. We were witness today to Farnsworth's shortcomings, why he's been pegged as a setup guy, not a closer. That leaves...Bobby Seay? Why the Hell not? He's the only reliever who seems to realize throwing strikes are a GOOD thing. Hey, if any of you have a better idea, I'm sure Leyland would love to hear it.
Before the game, Leyland went off, calling out his team while claiming he was on the verge of making big changes. One being playing more "kids." I think what happened in Tampa this weekend, and especially this afternoon, has accelerated Leyland's timetable.
It's early August, the Tigers are 7 games back, and fading. If the time for some significant lineup changes hasn't already passed, it soon will. Though realistically, what moves can Leyland make? Playing "kids" does not a playoff team make. I doubt he has any moves left in his magic bag of managerial tricks which could suddenly remake the Tigers into a playoffs bound juggernaut.