So when Looper allowed a two-run homer in the first inning to Detroit designated hitter Gary Sheffield and a solo homer to right fielder Magglio Ordonez in the third, the die was all but cast on this interleague matchup.
But it would get a lot worse. The Tigers, who managed only 11 runs in five games against a very different Cardinals staff in last year's unsuccessful World Series try, had more than that by the end of five innings Friday. The Tigers' 14-4 win over the Cardinals marked the 11th time out of 23 losses this season that the Cardinals have been walloped by five or more runs. And in their last seven interleague road games, four of them at Comerica Park, the Cardinals have been outscored 69-28.
In this one, they even wasted a rare home run, a solo drive in the ninth inning by first baseman Albert Pujols, who had his first four-hit game of the season. "You can't enjoy that one," said Pujols. "It's a team game. It's not a one-person game. When you lose, you lose as a team -- no matter what kind of performance I had at the plate."
Looper was hit on the top of the left foot by a smash in the fifth inning with the Cardinals already down 5-0. He was lifted then, but he was coming out anyway.
"I just kept trying to battle my way through it, but I wasn't able to do it. I was basically terrible," said Looper.
TIGERS 14, CARDINALS 4: The Cardinals sank to 2-5 on this nine-game trip as six pitchers gave up 18 hits to the Tigers. RHP Braden Looper's ERA rose from 2.29 to 3.27 as he gave up seven runs in four innings. Counting last year's World Series and 2006 interleague play, the Cardinals are 1-5 in their last six games at Comerica Park.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--RHP Todd Wellemeyer was activated but didn't pitch after going through a fairly extensive throwing session on Thursday's off day in Detroit.
--Manager Tony La Russa and RHP Adam Wainwright had a pre-game meeting to establish that Wainwright's awful game on Tuesday in Los Angeles was not a result of arm trouble. Wainwright assured La Russa that that was not the reason.
La Russa said, "I said to him, 'Let's get this thing straight. You're a high-profile guy. If you struggle, there are going to be questions why you're struggling.'"
--RHP Anthony Reyes (0-6), Saturday night's starter for the Cardinals, returns to Comerica Park, where he won Game 1 of the World Series last year. He has not won since. He also hasn't had a hit since then although he will not bat Saturday night.
"My hitting has diminished from college to here," said Reyes. "Every year that goes by, I don't really practice swinging during the offseason. So it kind of goes away after awhile. That's probably something I need to address."
--For the second time this spring, RHP Brian Falkenborg has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Class AAA Memphis. Falkenborg, who pitched a perfect inning in his last appearance Wednesday, was sent out to make room for Todd Wellemeyer. But manager Tony La Russa said, "I don't think that is the last time we'll see him with the Cardinals."
--C Yadier Molina extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a second-inning double.