The Detroit Tigers badly needed Doug Fister back from injury, and tonight, they got a vintage performance. Unfortunately, Fister found out what several Tigers starters already knew: the team can’t score runs nor close games right now. It happened yet again, as Detroit dropped a 3-2 stunner to Seattle.
Fister was making his long anticipated return to the hill, and he would be the benefactor of some strange offense right away in the first inning. Andy Dirks spilt the gap with a double to center field. Two batters later, Prince Fielder hit a towering pop up, and doubled off Brendan Ryan, scoring the run. Detroit had a quick 1-0 lead. Fister looked like he didn’t miss a beat coming off injury, pitching well and getting some slick infield defense. Despite getting an unlucky break when Blake Beaven departed with injury forcing the nearly unhittable Hisashi Iwakuma on the hill, the Tigers did manage to add another run in the fourth, when Brennan Boesch singled in Fielder for the 2-0 lead.
Control remained the word for Fister all night through the seventh, as he cruised around the Mariner lineup with his usual impressive array of pitches. Watching Fister perform tonight was like turning back the clock to last September, when batters rarely looked like they had a clue at the plate while opposing him. Once again, the biggest issue was Detroit’s offense remaining unable to help Fister or the bullpen in the late innings, and that would be haunting. Octavio Dotel walked two batters and threw a wild pitch, helping Seattle tie the game on a Miguel Montero double. A sacrifice fly by John Jaso won the game by the shocking 3-2 final.
So many questions. Why was the unflappable Fister taken out early? Why was Dotel closing? Why can’t the offense manage to push four or five runs across consistently? Jim Leyland had better find answers soon, or his seat figures to get even hotter this summer.
Big Cat: Doug Fister. Welcome back indeed, Mister Fister. The Tigers’ pitcher picked up right where he left off last year, and was fantastic, economical and nearly untouchable in his return to Seattle. He pitched seven innings, giving up no runs and striking out three. Rarely was he in trouble, and the Mariners only managed four hits off Fister. The Tigers had to be ecstatic seeing Fister pitch this well off injury. Too bad Octavio Dotel and Jim Leyland failed him when all was said and done.
Stray Kitty: Delmon Young and Octavio Dotel. The time for Young to get going is now. Following his embarrassing dust up off the field in New York, it would be wise for Young to start hitting to help make the fans forget about everything else with his good play. Instead, he was another 0-4 today, and his average is continuing to plummet further. This act isn’t going to play well with the fans, who are going to start to remember Young for all the wrong reasons provided he cannot start swinging the bat like he did last fall. Dotel, meanwhile, couldn’t throw a strike in the ninth and imploded, allowing the Mariners to win the game.
Best Play Of The Game: Fielder’s double off the arm of Brendan Ryan. In one of the oddest doubles you will see, Fielder’s bloop fell perfectly and plunked Ryan in the arm, rolling into foul territory. Because there were two outs, Andy Dirks was able to score, and Fielder was able to reach second. The interesting play gave the Tigers a run, providing Doug Fister with some additional early confidence on the scoreboard.
Worst Play Of The Game: The Tigers failing to add runs in the seventh. The bases were loaded, and Miguel Cabrera was up. After pounding several foul balls, he rolled a grounder to third base and quietly ended an unexpected Tigers’ threat. These are the kind of situations where the Tigers’ offense needs to start piling on to take the pressure off the pitching staff and bullpen. Instead, they continued the early season theme of letting the opposing staff off the hook. That cost them in the ninth inning, as Dotel couldn’t get anybody out, allowing the Mariners to put up three easy runs and steal the game.
Central Focus: The Cleveland Indians took a double header from the Chicago White Sox, and the Tigers’ loss puts them 2.5 behind in the standings.
On Deck: Tomorrow, hame two of this series against Seattle will pit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander against Kevin Milwood. Play gets underway around 10:10 p.m.