Galarraga hits speed bump in loss to Tribe
Right-hander roughed up after taking no-no into fifth
DETROIT -- Armando Galarraga wasn't thinking about déjà-vu as he worked through the Indians' lineup for four innings Monday night. For everyone else, though, it looked oddly familiar.
Not only had Galarraga not allowed a base hit Monday when he took the mound for the fifth inning, he hadn't allowed a run to the Indians in 20 innings all season. By the time he stepped back into the dugout, he had allowed five runs on four hits, three of them home runs, and retired just two batters.
"Everything happened so fast, I was in shock," Galarraga said after the Tigers' 6-3 loss. "That's a fast five runs."
It did not seem particularly quick to his manager.
"So much time between pitches, so deliberate, it was almost like every pitch they were preparing for a test," Jim Leyland said. "That was not a good pace to the game."
If it was a test, Galarraga has some more studying to do. As we went through the play-by-play damage aloud, he sounded like somebody who would've done a cram session right there if he thought it would help.
"They just kept hitting and hitting," Galarraga said. "Home run, another home run, double, walk, another home run. Boom, five runs, out of the game. And I sit down in the chair and I'm like, 'What the ...' I think about it: How did I give up those runs so easy?'"
To Leyland and the Indians, it wasn't necessarily the story of a brilliant performance suddenly gone awry, but a case of hitters finally catching up with what he had been doing for four innings.
"Galarraga just made some pitches eventually that they just couldn't miss," Leyland said. "The ball didn't really have much action on it. The velocity was OK, but there wasn't much action on the ball. And they just took advantage of it and hit them over the fence. At one point, they had three or four hits and a bunch of runs, and we had 10 or 11 hits and one run."
Galarraga became famous for his perfect-game bid against this team June 2, when he retired the first 26 Indians to the plate and would've finished off the effort if not for a blown call by first-base umpire Jim Joyce. Galarraga took a no-hit bid into the fifth inning the next time he met the Indians on Aug. 20, and settled for seven scoreless innings on three hits.
In both of those outings, Galarraga was able to get Indians batters to swing at his pitch, often a biting slider that they pounded into the ground for quick, easy outs. He racked up 15 ground-ball outs in his would-be perfect game, not counting the Jason Donald ground-ball single that should've been the final out, then struck out eight Indians in August.
Monday was different. The outs sometimes came fast, but very few of them were particularly easy. Tigers center fielder and Gold Glove candidate Austin Jackson caught six of the first 12 outs, and ran down all three outs in the fourth inning. The Indians didn't swing and miss at any of his pitches, including a slider that was more diving than biting as Cleveland's hitters watched it fall into the dirt.
"He wasn't as good today as the last two times we faced him," Indians manager Manny Acta. "We were hitting some balls hard early in the game right at people, so guys were a little more confident. They continued to pump each other up, saying, 'Keep swinging. It'll happen.'"
It took a while, but it happened fast.
After a first-pitch ball to Matt LaPorta to start off the inning, Galarraga left a slider over the plate for strike one, then threw another one in the zone. LaPorta didn't miss, sending it 412 feet to straightaway center field to break up the no-hitter and the shutout in one swing.
Two batters later, Galarraga couldn't get backup catcher Carlin to offer at back-to-back pitches off the outside corner. He tried to challenge Carlin on a 2-0 pitch and paid for it, watching Carlin send it deep to right for his first American League homer and a tie game.
Michael Brantley barely missed another homer three pitches later, settling for a double off the right-field fence. Galarraga regrouped with a fly ball to right field from Asdrubal Cabrera, but lost Shin-Soo Choo for a two-out walk.
"That," Leyland said, "was a killer."
Leyland called the deliberate pace scientific. In some ways, that might be true. Galarraga, for his part, was trying to figure out what to do.
"It's frustrating," Galarraga said, "because I need to keep a better rhythm. That's what I had before."
After a first-pitch ball, Travis Hafner made Galarraga pay for a hanging changeup, driving it 429 feet to right field for his 12th home run of the year.
Choo was 8-for-25 off Galarraga entering the night. Hafner, by contrast, was just 2-for-17.
"I threw the first changeup down," Galarraga said. "I wanted to throw a good changeup outside, and the ball was middle-in. He went up and got it. With runners, he's an aggressive guy."
That was it for Galarraga (4-8), who gave up five runs on four hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. To him, it was a continuation of the struggles over his previous two starts against the Rangers and Royals. The three starts combined have inflicted 17 runs of damage on 21 hits over 13 2/3 innings.
He has one more start Saturday at Baltimore to try to find that rhythm again. After all that has happened, he desperately wants to end this season on a good note.
"I want to have the feeling of throwing the last game OK," Galarraga said. "The last three starts have been horrible for me."