Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Another Gut-Wrencher, And The Tigers Begin To Fade Away

How many more times can we put "Detroit Tigers" and "tough loss" in the same sentence?

Probably as many times as "Dave Dombrowski" and "bullpen help" will be lopped together in the coming months.

Last night in Chicago was another game that the Tigers' gas can bullpen let get away. First, in the 8th inning, when Kyle Farnsworth surrendered yet another home run -- this one to tie the game. Then, in the 14th, after the Tigers had taken an 8-6 lead -- when Joel Zumaya got the gas can out and gave up four runs, the last three on Nick Swisher's long home run to center field.

10-8, White Sox.

Time to get that fork out, because the Tigers are just about done.

Oh, I know teams have come from behind to nip the pack at the end of the season, and I know they've done so with bigger deficits than the 7-1/2 game margin that the Chisox lead the Tigers by this morning. I know that it happened just last season, several times: with the Yankees, Phillies, and Rockies.

But that kind of hot streak is only possible with an airtight bullpen -- the kind that doesn't treat leads like a buttered bowling ball that has no holes drilled in it.

The Tigers' bullpen seems to pitch OK when the game is tied or the team is behind -- they did alright last night between the 9th and 13th innings. But as soon as they have the lead, here comes the gas can.

It's tough to watch, and those naysayers before the season who worried about the Tigers bullpen -- even amidst the euphoria over the off-season moves involving the offense -- are looking pretty damned prophetic right now. Count me among the non-prophetic.

Don't get me wrong -- I knew the bullpen might be a concern. I just didn't know it would unravel this badly. Or this often, in the most critical of times.

And once again, Jim Leyland's ballclub is experiencing a miserable August -- the month that has been his bugaboo ever since he came to the Tigers.

The Tigers are much closer to the fourth-place Royals than they are the top of the division. Games like last night just suck the wind out of your sails, and when you string a bunch of them together, it can be almost too much to recover from.

Dave Dombrowski. Bullpen help.

Get used to that combination of words. I mean, besides the ones not fit to print here.


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