Game 62: Fister’s run support woes, take 4
Doug Fister is a 6-foot-8 pitcher who can field his position like an infielder. He can pound hitters into groundouts, or he can use his breaking ball to rack up strikeouts. With a healthy season so far, he’s reminding people how effective he can be when he can take the ball every five games and get the repetitions his health never really allowed him last year until the stretch run and postseason.
What he cannot do at this point is score runs for himself. That, at this point, is the hang-up.
The numbers over Fister’s last four starts are pretty good: 30 1/3 innings, 28 hits, nine runs earned, three walks and 26 strikeouts. He has pitched at least seven innings in each of those four games, pitched into the ninth inning June 5 against the Rays, then pitched an eight-inning complete game loss in Kansas City last night.
“Actually, if we had taken the lead, I was going to put him back out there [for the ninth],” manager Jim Leyland said.
He’s 0-3 in these last four starts, in no small part because the Tigers have scored four runs total over those last four outings. He went back-to-back outings without the Tigers scoring a run for him.
“Man, I feel so bad for him,” Torii Hunter said. “He’s been pitching his butt off. We just can’t get a win for him right now. He keeps going out there, he keeps chucking the ball. Eventually, we’re going to get something going for him.”
His second start in this four-start stretch made him the first Tiger in history (or at least since 1916, as far back as the data goes) to pitch seven or more scoreless innings with 12 or more strikeouts and not get a win. Last night added him to the complete-game loss category, which has been pretty rare for the Tigers under Jim Leyland.
Seven Tigers have pitched complete-game losses since 2006. Justin Verlander has four of them, including two last season. Fister is the first Tigers pitcher other than Verlander to throw a complete-game loss since Armando Galarraga did it in his final start as a Tiger, taking a 2-1 loss at Baltimore on Oct. 2, 2010.
“I felt good, felt strong,” Fister said after the game. “I appreciate the confidence that [Leyland] has in me.”
Play of the game: Salvador Perez’s third-inning triple not only drove in two games, it put him in position to score the go-ahead run two batters later on Lorenzo Cain’s infield single. It was a ball hit in right-center field enough that both Avisail Garcia and Torii Hunter went after it until the last second, leaving no one backing up the play once the ball got by Garcia’s diving attempt.
Out of the game: Miguel Cabrera generally pounds Royals pitching, but he’s now 0-for-6 lifetime against Aaron Crow. Ned Yost went to him in the seventh inning after Jeremy Guthrie hit Andy Dirks on a two-strike pitch to put the potential go-ahead run on base and move the tying run into scoring position.
Crow could have opted to walk Cabrera and load the bases after falling behind on a 2-0 count. Instead, he spotted a slider for strike one, got Cabrera to foul back a 95 mph fastball to even up the count, then sent down the Triple Crown winner swinging at another slider to end the inning.
Line of the night: Guthrie didn’t strike out a single batter over 6 1/3 innings, and walked three, but still held Detroit to two runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings to improve to 7-3.
Stat of the night: 6 — Inherited runners stranded by Crow in four June outings. He allowed half of his 10 inherited runners to score in May.