The Tigers just can’t seem to get over the hump to reach the .500 mark.
Every time they get close, they lose to fall two games back.
The Tigers managed just two hits Friday against Pittsburgh Pirates starter A.J. Burnett in six innings, eventually falling 4-1.
“We didn’t swing the bats very well,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland told FOX Sports Detroit’s John Keating on the postgame show. “Burnett was pretty good and their bullpen’s good. So we just came up short. It was one of those nights. It wasn’t like we were hitting the ball hard all over the field, a couple balls but not much.”
ESPN Stats & Info offered the following statistic: The Tigers were 1-16 in at-bats ending in a fastball. Opponents hit .274 against Burnett’s fastball in his first 11 starts.
“He was tough,” the Tigers’ Austin Jackson told Keating. “He was able to use both his fastballs on both sides of the plate and use his off-speed pitches pretty well. We just couldn’t get too much going. I think the little pressure we did put on them, he got out of that.”
Meanwhile, in his second start off the disabled list, Doug Fister (1-4) did not do as well as he did the first time, in which he allowed the Colorado Rockies no runs on three hits in six innings.
The first three batters reached base and the score was 2-0 by the time the inning was over. Fister needed 23 pitches to get through it.
Things got worse in the second. Once again, the first two batters reached base. When Burnett was up, he attempted to bunt, which came right to Fister. Fister threw wildly to third and the ball ended up in left field, where Delmon Young picked it up and then dropped it. The two errors led to two more Pirates’ runs.
“We probably turned what would have been a third-to-first double play into two runs, which was obviously a no-no for us,” Leyland said. “And we couldn’t overcome it.”
Although Fister eventually settled down and pitched four more scoreless innings, the damage was done.
“It comes down to executing and I did a poor job of that,” said Fister.
Leyland believes part of Fister’s problem is that he has not pitched very much this season because of the two stints on the DL.
“I don’t think velocity had anything to do with (it),” Leyland said. “I think it was just a matter he lost a couple pitches with two strikes in very hittable spots. He wasn’t real sharp early but he settled in and pitched well.”
The Tigers are going to have to do a better job and not just with their fielding. While opposing pitchers do deserve credit, it’s not good to have to “tip your cap” to them every other night.
After beating the Rockies twice and the St. Louis Cardinals once to get to 33-34, the Tigers then dropped a decision to Jake Westbrook and the Cardinals, 3-1.
A similar pattern emerged Friday night when the Tigers couldn’t do anything against Burnett and their record dropped to 34-36. They have to win both remaining games against the Pirates to reach .500 and to continue their series-winning streak, which stands at four.
That’ll be up to Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, both of whom have pitched well lately.