Notes: Jones takes responsibility
Closer holds himself accountable for Tuesday's loss
DETROIT -- The Tigers do not have a captain. The way Todd Jones sees it, their bullpen does, in a way.
While Jones' frustration was tempered Wednesday morning after Tuesday's loss, he still wasn't happy with how it unfolded. The missed sign was one reason, but the bullpen struggles in general were another. When those happen, he feels like he should be the one to stop them.
Usually, that happens. On Tuesday, Jones' rough ninth inning continued those before him.
"It's not fun to be the butt of everybody's jokes, talking about our bullpen," Jones said. "I take a lot of pride in our bullpen, and it's frustrating. We just do what we can. We're down there trying to make pitches, and I should take a little more responsibility, because I'm the oldest guy in the 'pen and I've got the most experience. I feel like I am the most accountable. ...
"When I throw better, everybody gets in line. When the guy at the end of the game is doing his part, it seems like everybody seems to just kind of fall into place. And when I get a little sideways, it seems like everybody else does, too. You just have to try to find a way to dig through it and keep going."
In past years, it's the kind of role Jamie Walker would sometimes place on himself during the Tigers' past struggles. Now, Walker is in Baltimore.
It's a tougher expectation than many pitchers place on themselves, but Jones said it has nothing to do with injuries to key relievers behind him. Even if Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney were available and pitching well, Jones would feel the same way.
"I mean, I feel the other guys are doing the best they can," Jones said, "but I should be held to a different standard, because I'm older and I've got more experience. I'm just supposed to be able to go out there and do it. For the most part this year, I've done it. And when I don't do it, it looks really bad, because I'm the last one there."
As for how Tuesday night unfolded, Jones confirmed the missed sign involved the 0-2 pitch to Sammy Sosa. He interpreted the step-off sign as a slide step and thus delivered his pitch to Sosa, who lined it to left field for a single that continued the inning for Marlon Byrd's two-run triple.
Leyland admired Jones' pride in his craft, but he wasn't going to beat up Jones on the missed call. Jones had retired the first two batters of the inning beforehand before a two-out walk to Michael Young brought up Sosa.
"I just think that he's such a perfectionist, and I think what happens to him on occasion is he out-thinks himself," Leyland said. "He competes so hard, and he gets into it so much, that every now and then, he just doesn't let his talent do what's natural for him, and that's to be a heckuva pitcher. He out-thinks himself once in a while.
"He's done a heckuva job. He's an outstanding pitcher, and I have absolutely no problem with Todd Jones."
Robertson's return revisited: Nate Robertson can usually tell how he's pitching before the hitters have a chance to put the ball in play. If he can feel the right grip and the movement developing on the ball as he releases it, he can tell whether he has his stuff.
He was quite happy with what he saw Tuesday.
"Out there, I didn't really care what the velocity was, anything like that last night," Robertson said. "I was just more concerned about action. And as I threw those pitches yesterday and I saw the angle and the tilt on them, that's what I wanted. When you see that your pitches are doing what they should be doing, that gives you confidence."
Lost in the Tigers' late-inning demise was the return of Robertson, not just in presence but in stuff. Beyond scattering four hits over 5 1/3 innings, his four strikeouts marked his highest total since fanning five in back-to-back starts in mid-April.
In the two starts before he went on the disabled list three weeks ago with a tired arm, Robertson had recorded just three strikeouts total, all of them May 30 against Tampa Bay. Two of those strikeouts were called third strikes, meaning he had sent down just one batter swinging.
"Obviously, I wasn't beating them with my strikeout pitches -- my slider, things like that," Robertson said. "I wasn't really getting that kind of break. It was just kind of flat. So when it's that flat, I'm not getting many swings and misses on that, and my fastball was flat, too. The problem was I just couldn't put anybody away. It was just gone."
On Tuesday, it was back.
"I thought he did a tremendous job last night," Leyland said. "He looked pretty much like the Nate of old, I thought, and hopefully, we can get that to repeat for several starts. If he pitches like that, he'll give us a chance to win all the time when he goes out there."
Monroe rests knee: Wednesday's rainout provided a day of rest for left fielder Craig Monroe, who was going to be out of the lineup anyway to rest his left knee. Monroe has dealt with soreness there since Spring Training, when he missed time with patella tendinitis. He's able to play through it, but he felt it flare up during Tuesday's game, prompting a day to stay off of it.
Coming up: After Wednesday's rainout, the Tigers and Rangers will conclude their rain-shortened, three-game series with a day game Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Kenny Rogers (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will take the hill opposite Texas right-hander Kevin Millwood (4-6, 7.31).
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.