video thumbnail

SF@DET: Villarreal has rough time in game vs. Giants

DETROIT -- The Tigers' bullpen is running thin.

For the third time in five games, a starter didn't pitch past the fourth and the bullpen was called upon to complete several innings, this time in a 15-3 loss at the hands of the Giants on Saturday.

"It was ugly, to be honest with you," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "You can't say much more than that. It was pretty ugly, obviously."

It was the third time in five games the Tigers gave up at least 14 runs, and Detroit had to make another roster move to have enough ready arms in the bullpen for Sunday's Interleague finale.

Four days after sending Daniel Schlereth down and calling up Brayan Villarreal, Villarreal is being replaced by Adam Wilk.

"You're stretching them out where you shouldn't be stretching them out, and it all starts with starting pitching," Leyland said. "It's that simple. That's what the game's all about -- starting pitching."

Max Scherzer lasted two-plus innings before a thunderstorm delayed the game for 2 hours, 36 minutes, and mercifully ended his night.

Scherzer struggled right from the get-go. He allowed a two-run home run to Pablo Sandoval and a three-run home run to Brandon Crawford in the opening frame as the Giants jumped to an early 5-0 lead.

He was able to strand a runner in the second inning, but found himself in trouble again in the third. Back-to-back doubles by Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross extended the lead to 6-0, and that was followed with a walk.

"His control was not good," Leyland said. "His control was just not good at all. He was all over the place, really, and didn't get in a groove it all. He just didn't have any command, which obviously was not good."

Scherzer got to a 3-1 count on Crawford before the game was delayed. Since starting the season 6-0 and running his ERA as low as 2.81, Scherzer is 3-4 in his past nine starts and his ERA has risen to 4.90.

"Three of our last five starting performances have just been not good, really not acceptable," Leyland said. "We're in a stretch of 37 [games] out of 38 [days] and we just can't just get behind the 8-ball like we've been behind the 8-ball. In three of those five games, we're just four, five, six, seven runs behind. That just can't happen."

The rain came quickly and heavily before lightening up. But it continually came and went, causing a restart time of 10:15 p.m. ET to be pushed back to 10:40.

After the game finally resumed, Villarreal came in to pitch for the Tigers and walked Crawford, although it was charged to Scherzer. Miguel Tejada sent the first pitch he saw into the left-field seats, as the Tigers gave up their third grand slam in five games and the Giants extended the lead to 10 runs. San Francisco added two more runs in the third off Ryan Perry and David Purcey allowed three in the sixth inning.

"What we had to do is get people out of their comfort zones," Leyland said. "We're asking Purcey to do too much. We're asking Perry to pitch the third inning, that's not good. That just won't work."

Detroit's bats finally woke up when Saturday turned into Sunday. Jhonny Peralta and Brennan Boesch hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning and Ryan Raburn added an RBI double in the ninth, but it was far too little, too late.

The 51 runs allowed over the past five games are the most for the franchise since 2004. The Tigers' rotation only has one starter, Justin Verlander, with an ERA under 4.40, and rookie Charlie Furbush will make his first start Monday.

The Tigers fell to 1 1/2 games back of the Indians in the American League Central, and although the standings might not mean much in early July, a pitching staff that came into Saturday with the fifth-worst ERA in the Majors is going to need to turn things around if the Tigers are to be successful in the second half of the season.

"I'm not concerned about anything," Leyland said. "It's very simple -- this is not acceptable. And somebody needs to step it up."

MLB.com Comments