Galarraga finds no answers in Tigers’ loss

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Tom Gage
The Detroit News

Detroit — Armando Galarraga didn’t end up with what was rightly his on June 2 — the night of Jim Joyce’s call.

Nineteen starts later, it’s difficult to determine what will be rightly his going forward.

Galarraga has struggled to win since his imperfect perfecto. He has won just twice since. Now he’s just struggling period.

Lasting 5 1/3 innings Tuesday night in a less-than-artistic game, the Tigers lost, 9-6, to the Kansas City Royals. Galarraga was out of sync for the second consecutive start, allowing five runs on nine hits.

The fact he has won just once in his previous 15 starts could be weighing heavily on him. Remember, he said the saving grace about losing his perfect game lay in the fact he pitched well.

That’s really all Galarraga has wanted to do this season: To be consistent and to pitch games around which he could construct a foundation of role security.

Now, with an ERA that has climbed back up to 4.44, it’s not entirely certain he even has that.

Manager Jim Leyland didn’t go down that road following the game. He said only that “He didn’t pitch good. He just didn’t have it.”

To be fair, Galarraga has pitched better than four victories would indicate. In 10 starts in which he either didn’t get a decision or lost, he allowed fewer than four earned runs.

He has been victimized by inconsistent support but also by a season that steadfastly refuses to be as successful as he hoped. It’s almost as if Joyce’s call was a portent of the frustration to come.

In any case, Galarraga’s record dropped to 4-7 with a loss that ended the Tigers’ four-game winning streak.

Down 3-0 in the fourth — a lead the Tigers put together with the help of consecutive home runs from Ryan Raburn and Miguel Cabrera off winning pitcher Bruce Chen (11-7) — the Royals took the lead for good with four in the fifth.

Galarraga retired the first two batters he faced in the fifth before the inning fell apart with hits, walks and his own costly throwing error.

The Royals added two more runs in the eighth with the help of two errors on the same botched play by Tigers reliever Alfredo Figaro.

“We walked guys with the bases loaded, threw bunts away, threw swinging bunts away,” said Leyland. “You can’t do that any level and win.

“Pitcher’s fielding, I assure you, is something we’ll work on in spring training — because it’s been bad. It almost looks like panic sets in.

“It’s happened several times this year that we’ve thrown bunts away. Next spring, it will be addressed by me personally. The pitchers won’t be getting out as early — but we will get better at it.”

Brandon Inge put an end to a surprising drought with an infield single in the third inning. Before that, he was 0-for-19 in his career against Chen.

The hit set up the Tigers’ first run because it followed a leadoff single by Scott Sizemore. After Gerald Laird’s sacrifice, Austin Jackson’s fly ball drove in Sizemore.

The back-to-back home runs by Raburn and Cabrera made it 3-0 in the fourth — after which the game went downhill for the Tigers until the ninth.

That’s when they scored three runs and would have won it with a two-out grand slam from Raburn off Joakim Soria. But Soria — now with 40 saves this year — has never allowed a slam.

Raburn grounded out to short instead.

Sept. 22, 2010