DETROIT -- The last time Armando Galarraga started at Comerica Park, he looked at his win-loss record in amazement: Four wins all year, just two victories since his would-be perfect game on June 2, and a half-dozen no-decisions in quality starts.
He has had his share of games in which he pitched well and couldn't buy run support. Tuesday was not one of those, as the 9-6 loss to the Royals would indicate.
For the second time in as many nights, the Tigers lost a sizeable early lead against the Royals with a big fifth inning. This time, however, the Royals kept on rallying until it was too big for a Tigers' ninth inning to answer.
The Royals' big fifth inning on Tuesday came entirely with two outs. Galarraga had retired six straight batters and was seemingly on his way toward a well-deserved win when the top of the Royals order came around. The next seven Royals reached base safely, all on singles and walks.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland summarized it in just four words: "He didn't pitch good."
When asked to summarize Galarraga's season, Leyland needed only one word: "OK."
The frustration with Galarraga's summer might not rest only with Galarraga.
Catcher Gerald Laird senses the frustration from his pitcher.
"He's had so many good outings and bad outings," Laird said. "He's had ups and downs, and it's more just trying to find some more consistency. He's looked so good at times against teams, and then looked rough. So it's one of those things where you just have to kind of find a medium in there and just be a little more consistent."
Galarraga had a slow pace early as he searched for the strike zone, enough that Leyland visited the mound with head athletic trainer Kevin Rand at one point in the second inning, wondering if Galarraga's elbow was hurting. But Galarraga picked it up as he began to roll along.
Five of Galarraga's first 13 outs came via strikeout, including the final out in three of the first four innings. He sent Jai Miller swinging and missing wildly enough on a slider to lead off the fifth that the bat went flying toward third base as Miller went walking back to the dugout.
Once Lucas May grounded out, Galarraga was nearly through another smooth inning. But once Jarrod Dyson extended the inning with a ground-ball single through the right side, Galarraga wouldn't get that elusive third out until Miller came up again.
Dyson stole second base and took third on a passed ball as Galarraga went to a full count on Mike Aviles, whose liner back through the middle put the Royals on the scoreboard. Billy Butler's liner to right on the next pitch put runners at the corners for the heart of Kansas City's order.
Galarraga's next eight pitches missed the strike zone, walking Wilson Betemit to load the bases and Kila Ka'aihue to plate a run. When Galarraga regrouped and found the strike zone, Yuniesky Betancourt chopped it for a dribbler to the third-base side of the mound.
In what might have been the best demonstration of Galarraga's frustration, he dashed off the mound to field it, spun and fired in one motion, sending the ball sailing over Miguel Cabrera's head at first base and into foul territory in right field. Ka'aihue easily followed Betemit home to put the Royals in front.
"You could see that getting ready to happen," Leyland said. "You have to get set, try to make a good, firm throw. [Alfredo] Figaro threw one away [later]. All those plays, you can't make those mistakes."
Galarraga (4-7) threw 39 pitches that inning, 17 of them for strikes, though four of those balls were for an intentional walk to Alex Gordon that brought up Miller again. Galarraga left in the sixth after Dyson's double and Aviles' single plated an insurance run.
Galarraga gave up five runs on nine hits and five walks over 5 1/3 innings, stretching his winless streak to six starts. The first four of those were strong outings in low-scoring games, but Galarraga has allowed 12 earned runs on 17 hits over nine innings in his last two starts.
The Tigers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth, making a pair of add-on runs from the Royals in the top of that inning loom large. But as Leyland pointed out, closer Joakim Soria would've started the inning had the game been closer, rather than entering after the Tigers put up four consecutive singles off Greg Holland.
The one topic on which Leyland was expansive was the fielding miscues from the mound. Beyond Galarraga's wild whirl was Figaro's double-error in the ninth on Dyson's sacrifice bunt attempt. He struggled to pick up the ball cleanly, then fired wide enough of first base that Will Rhymes could only watch it sail by.
"It almost looks like panic sets in," Leyland said. "You can't do those things and win at the Major League level, and that's why you harp to the pitchers. The more little things you can do, the longer you can stay in games, and the more chance you have to win games. You talk about it and talk about it.
"It's happened several times this year where we've thrown bunts away, opened up big innings, and it's something that will be addressed by me personally next spring. I will be there when it's going on, I can assure you that."
What their pitching staff looks like by then remains to be seen. Galarraga's stinginess for good stretches of the summer works strongly in his favor for a spot behind the big three of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. But the Tigers will also have to decide what to make of the wins and losses.
Clearly, he's flustered, as shown by his remarks and through his argument with Alex Avila and Laird in the visiting dugout in Chicago last month. Tuesday likely didn't help.