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Detroit Tigers Bullpen Briefing: Struggles in Minnesota Abruptly End Quality Run

September 18th, 2014 at 9:22 AM
By Max DeMara

The Detroit Tigers lost two of three games on the road against the Minnesota Twins, and would have lost a third if not for clutch hitting in the ninth inning.

In all three games, a significant reason why the team lost, in addition to run scoring concerns and a few starting pitching errors, was the bullpen. After the last home stand, Detroit's pen had just come off a sparkling streak, but has quickly reverted back to shaky form in recent days.

Here's how the recently heaviest-used Tigers' late-inning hurlers rate in the latest edition of Bullpen Briefings.

1. Joakim Soria (2-4, 3.57 ERA, 18 saves). Monday, Soria picked up his 18th save of the season in clutch fashion filling in for the exhausted Joe Nathan. Since coming back off the disabled list, Soria has been pitching better (only two hits, two strikeouts and no runs in the seven innings pitched since his return) and is looking like a key piece for Detroit's stretch run.

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Joe Nathan, Joakim Soria Should Become Detroit Tigers’ Dual Closers the Rest of the Year

September 17th, 2014 at 9:30 AM
By Max DeMara

Monday night, the Detroit Tigers won a close game because their closer was able to get the job done. Tuesday night, they lost one because he couldn't.

The closer was different in both instances. Monday it was Joakim Soria, and Tuesday it was Joe Nathan. Soria got his save quickly, allowing the Tigers to win a game they had lost control of, while Nathan blew a save in a long and painful outing the Tigers probably had no business winning in the first place.

Nathan wasn't alone in sharing the blame. Ezequiel Carerra made a horrific defensive decision in the ninth, diving for Kurt Suzuki's hit. He missed, allowing Suzuki to double and the tying run to score.

That play not withstanding, Nathan helped kick start the Twins rally with a walk of Trevor Plouffe. Later, Aaron Hicks tapped a ball over the mound that Andrew Romine had no chance at making a play on, allowing Chris Hermann to score.

Though there were plenty of elements of bad luck at play and Nathan claimed he felt better in this outing, it's clear that the dual closer role could be an excellent idea down the stretch. Nathan had clearly lost steam by Sunday, and pitching Soria on Monday allowed the Tigers to get back on track.

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Detroit Tigers Need Elite Version of Max Scherzer at His Best Down the Stretch

September 16th, 2014 at 10:33 AM
By Max DeMara

Tuesday morning, the standings showed the Detroit Tigers still ahead of the Kansas City Royals by 1.5 games.

After a manic Monday night, it still feels plenty closer than that. The Royals won, stunning the White Sox late, while the Tigers, looking like a lock to win most of the night, had to fight off the Minnesota Twins in the ninth inning with a barrage of home runs.

With a 6-0 lead through the middle innings, the game was looking like it was close to a sure thing. Then, the Twins started chipping away, collecting runs off Max Scherzer in the fifth and sixth innings, finally chasing him and getting into Detroit's ever unpredictable bullpen.

Though it wasn't completely Scherzer's fault that the lead eventually evaporated, the starter allowed a game he had complete control of to spiral out of control in the middle innings. Six runs should always be enough with a pitcher like Scherzer, but his middle inning meltdown allowed the Twins to gain confidence.

Eventually, they tied the game off Joba Chamberlain. Both Chamberlain and Scherzer were saved when Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera hit clutch home runs, but Detroit should never have needed such a bailout late in the game.

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Talkin’ Tigers Week in Review: Detroit Tigers Starting to Feel Like Dangerous October Foe

September 15th, 2014 at 10:37 AM
By Max DeMara

For nearly two months, the Detroit Tigers stumbled and bumbled their way to losing a divisional lead and being on the outside looking in of the playoff hunt.

Now, as September pushes to its midway point, the Tigers that everyone remembers from the past several playoff pushes seem to be back. There's big game pitching, clutch hitting, big plays and even a little luck starting to return.

After taking two out of three from the Kansas City Royals and a weekend sweep of the Cleveland Indians, Detroit's back in first place for the first time since August 11. This time, the move into first feels markedly different than any other point during the year.

During the week, the Tigers saw plenty of playoff type plays go their way. Joe Nathan's clutch pick off set the tone. Then, Alex Avila and Ian Kinsler helped Detroit win a pair of games that they may have lost earlier in the season with huge home runs. All the while, Detroit got quality bullpen pitching and good starting pitching. In essence, it was close to a perfect week.

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Ian Kinsler the Latest Hero as Detroit Tigers Shock Cleveland Indians Again Behind Two-Run Shot

September 14th, 2014 at 5:55 PM
By Max DeMara

DETROIT—The Detroit Tigers will be sad to see the Cleveland Indians, and more specifically, their reliever Bryan Shaw leave town. Shaw melted down again in the late innings, allowing a two-run home run by Ian Kinsler which provided the winning margin in a 6-4 game.

For the first three innings, it appeared as if a starting pitching duel would be at hand. The Tigers and Indians went back and forth with dueling spotless frames. The fourth inning became the first trouble spot for Detroit. Justin Verlander loaded the bases after a walk and a hit batter, but rallied to get two big outs.

The next innings, some runs finally started coming. J.D. Martinez burned the Indians again, crushing his 22nd home run of the season to the center field shrubbery. Cleveland answered back quick with a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana, tying the score at one.

Verlander departed in the sixth, giving way to Blaine Hardy. With two runners on, Hardy walked Michael Bourn, and allowed an infield single to Jose Ramirez for Cleveland's 2-1 lead. The Indians added to the lead after Hardy hit a batter. Detroit responded with a Martinez single in the bottom of the inning and chased Trevor Bauer, but left two runners on.

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