Durbin, bullpen battered in loss
Tigers give up seven home runs in first half of twin bill
DETROIT -- As Jim Leyland likes to say, momentum is only as good as the next day's pitcher. Whatever momentum the Tigers had left over from Monday night's comeback exited Comerica Park on Tuesday afternoon along with more than a half-dozen baseballs off of Ranger bats.
Hours after Kenny Rogers and three relievers kept the Tigers close enough for a ninth-inning comeback, Detroit battled back for five runs in the eighth and another in the ninth. That didn't even cut the deficit in half in the Tigers' 13-6 loss in the opener of a day-night doubleheader with the Rangers. That's what a franchise record-tying seven home runs allowed does to a rally.
Just two other seven-homer games dot the Tigers' history books. One was an 11-4 loss on July 24, 1999 at Tiger Stadium, where the Red Sox went deep five times in four innings against Jeff Weaver. The other was a 15-2 loss to the Indians on July 17, 1966 to finish off a doubleheader sweep that dealt the Tigers a crushing blow to their hopes of catching the Orioles.
Whether this year's seven-homer game does anything for Detroit's postseason chances remains to be seen, but it was a microcosm of the pitching struggles that have helped to put the Tigers in a tough position with less than three weeks left in the season.
"There's a difference between having a little leak," Leyland said, "and totally letting the air out of the balloon right off the bat. Three, four runs, maybe even five, if you pick up one or two, you still feel like you're [in it]. But when the air's out of the balloon after three innings, that's not good. And that's basically what happened today. That's the way it is."
Chad Durbin has given the Tigers a chance to win this season on days when he had a leak, and quality outings when he has been on his game. His five scoreless innings last Thursday against the White Sox set up the Tigers for a 3-2 win to take the series. For that matter, Detroit was 9-9 in his previous 18 starts this season, and his long relief stints have often kept games manageable.
As he exited Tuesday's opener in the third inning, he was thinking about the innings to follow.
"I think about being in the bullpen and knowing that we have another game after this one, and we're only in the third inning," Durbin said. "Emotionally for me, you just feel like you've let down your bullpen, and you've let down any momentum that we might've been able to create on the offensive side."
Durbin's 19 home runs allowed entering the game ranked second on the team, but he had surrendered just five over 37 1/3 innings since the All-Star break. When he commands his pitches, he keeps the ball consistently down in the strike zone. This wasn't one of those times.
"It was a question of getting behind the hitters and not having good stuff or location," Leyland said. "That's a bad combination."
Seven of Texas' first 15 batters reached base safely, with six of them scoring. After three first-inning singles earned the resurgent Rangers a first-inning run, David Murphy led off the second inning with his second home run of the year.
Durbin retired the side in order from there, but a hit-by-pitch to Ian Kinsler led off the third. Two batters later, Marlon Byrd hit the first of his two home runs. Hank Blalock chased Durbin with a two-out double and scored on a Tim Byrdak wild pitch.
Jose Capellan followed Byrdak and struck out Kinsler to end a fourth-inning threat before Texas teed off in the fifth. Byrd hit a one-out solo homer, then Jason Botts walked and scored on a Murphy triple into the right-field corner. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez followed with back-to-back line drives into the right-field seats to put the Rangers into double digits before the midway point of the game.
Once Freddy Guzman went deep in the ninth off of Clay Rapada, the Rangers tied the Comerica Park record for home runs in a game set by Detroit three years ago.
"We just gave ourselves no chance," Leyland said. "Durbin obviously wasn't sharp. Byrdak wasn't sharp. Capellan was throwing pretty hard, but in the middle of the plate. That's just one of those games where our pitchers had a tough day, for the most part."
That made it a relatively easy day for Rangers starter Vicente Padilla (6-9) to improve to 3-0 in four career starts against Detroit. He held the Tigers to three infield singles, one of which was a Timo Perez ground ball that hit baserunner Omar Infante to end the third inning, while striking out six.
Five of the Tigers' six runs came in the eighth off of reliever Mike Wood, who has given up 12 home runs in 28 career innings against Detroit. Three runs came home on Mike Hessman's drive down the left-field line and just inside the foul pole.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.