Gm 9 Analysis: Pitching, Defense Poor in Loss

The Tigers couldn't keep the Kansas City Royals off the bases on Sunday, committing four errors and yielding 15 hits to the Royals as the club lost 9-5, dropping its third straight series to open the 2011 campaign.

The Skinny

Despite being a beautiful spring day for baseball, the play on the field was far from beautiful.

The defense was, at best, bad, as they team committed four errors on the day, almost all of which led to or helped lead to runs. However, not a single run went unearned.

And that right there encapsulates the job of the Tigers pitching staff, starting with Rick Porcello. Porcello was by no means helped by the defense, but did little to help himself.

While he relied more on his two seam fastball, the bigger problem was that the pitching just wasn't working that well. Of the nine hits Porcello gave up, eight came off his two seamer. He struggled to consistently keep it down in the zone, and the break on the pitch wasn't great.

And, when he wanted to come back to his four seamer, the velocity on the pitch wasn't there, regularly sitting at around 89-mph.

The bullpen wasn't much help, as each reliever that appeared had a hand in allowing a run to score, either allowing the runner on base, or allowing the inherited runner to score.

The offense somehow by the end of the day managed ten hits, but the club consistently trailed the Royals by a wide margin, and the total is slightly skewed by three singles in the bottom of the ninth.

Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila and Miguel Cabrera provided the fire power for the offense, each belting a home run.

The Star

There were no true shining stars on this day, but the closest one was likely Peralta, who went 3-for-4 at the plate, including the solo home run as well as a double. Of course, it's likely necessary to focus Peralta's star performance to his offense, as his limited range allowed at least one hit that might otherwise have been an out.

Key AB's Of The Game

Top 3, Rick Porcello (RHP) vs. Melky Cabrera (LHB)
This at-bat was a microcosm of how the entire game would play out for Porcello. With a man on first base, Porcello starts Cabrera off with a change-up that was fouled off, and then threw a two seamer for a ball to even the count at 1. Porcello brought another two seamer, very low in the zone, that Cabrera was able to slice down the left field line past a diving Brandon Inge. The situation was then compounded by left fielder Ryan Raburn, who came up with the ball firing to second, but instead sent the ball all the way to the tarp beyond first base, allowing the runner to trot home and Cabrera to advance to third. A hard hit ball finds a hole, and then the defense makes things worse.

Bottom 7, Luke Hochevar (RHP) vs. Miguel Cabrera (RHB)
Hochevar was quite good for the most part during the game, but this at-bat was an exception to that. Holding a 7-2 lead, Hochevar struck out Brennan Boesch to get the inning started, but the pitch was in the dirt, and Matt Treanor overthrew first base, allowing Boesch to reach on a throwing error. Cabrera had received a steady diet of breaking pitches to that point, grounding into a double play on a slider in his previous at-bat, and grounding out weakly on a sinker in his first appearance. Cabrera was ready for the breaking stuff this time though. He laid off a slider to get ahead 1-0, and then got a curveball that broke, but broke right over the middle of the plate. Cabrera hit a no-doubter into the left field seats, going 421 feet, and putting the Tigers back into striking distance, down three.

Bottom 9, Joakim Soria (RHP) vs. Alex Avila (LHB)
The Royals entered bottom nine with a five run lead, and were hoping to skate by without going to Soria. But three singles and a sacrifice fly brought a run and put the tying run on deck with just one out, and Avila had already gone yard earlier in the game, so Ned Yost took no chances and brought in Soria. In his previous at-bats, Avila took a splitter deep, but struck out on curveballs the other two tries. Soria took those learnings into account, firing three straight cutters to get ahead in the count 1-2, and then coming back with a curveball. Avila made contact with this one, but hit a grounder to first that was easily scooped up by Billy Butler for a fielder's choice. This at-bat didn't end the game (Brandon Inge would on the next AB), but to truly mount a comeback, the Tigers needed Avila to get on base without recording an out, and Soria made sure that didn't happen.

The Standings

3-6, tied for 4th in the AL Central

Up Next

Texas Rangers @ Detroit Tigers, Monday 4/11, 1:05PM
Alexi Ogando (1-0, 0.00) vs. Justin Verlander (1-0, 3.86)

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