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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fuentes Is Spanish For L: Tigers 4, Angels 3

It's not that I missed yesterday's games so much as I ran out of time to write about them; at least, that's my excuse today. Today was about missed opportunities, Jered Weaver missing a chance for a deserved win, and Brian Fuentes looking pretty horrible.

Weaver himself came close to blowing the thing entirely in both the fifth and sixth. In the sixth, he managed to load the bases with two out, but got Johnny Damon to strike out looking (which resulted in his ejection). In the sixth, the Tigers scored their first run on Miguel Cabrera's double (hit so high against the wall I had to watch the replay to actually believe that Bobby Abreu had no chance of fetching it) and an RBI single by Carlos Guillen. That led to a one-out, man on first situation that felt much tenser than it should have been; but Weaver lucked out with Don Kelly's line drive double play to Kendry Morales to end the frame.

Weaver survived through seven, pitching more than well enough to win the game; but the offense didn't scrape anything off the Tigers save for the typical first-inning roughness from Jeremy Bonderman. Fuentes entered the game in the ninth, his first game since returning from the DL (and sending Francisco Rodriguez back down to AAA Salt Lake) — and made a complete hash of things almost immediately, giving up a leadoff homer to Miguel Cabrera and then walking the next batter he faced, Carlos Guillen. Guillen got picked off trying to steal third, but that only set up a rundown allowing catcher Gerald Laird to take second; and he scored on a Ramon Santiago single, driving in the game's winning run for the Tigers.

Sure, it's just one outing, but I have almost no confidence in Brian Fuentes.

ESPN BoxAngels recap

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Of course, it's easy to speak in retrospect/hindsight, but I'll never understand how it is that Fuentes could be deemed ready for a tight ninth-inning save situation with nary a rehab outing or, minimally, a middle-innings scenario first. He was almost set up for failure. And what little confidence any of us had in him as our closer is essentially up in smoke. This bullpen isn't as deep as it seemed, and our offense is still not 'right'. That 5-game win streak was/is false comfort.
No, he had a rehab outing; he had come back from a stint in Rancho. But I don't think that was enough, and facing a higher quality of competition is needed.

I didn't think the bullpen was worth a damn going into the season; my constant spring training refrain was, well, at least the guys giving up five runs in one inning won't make the team on Opening Day. Several of them did. Fuentes has been suspect for at least the second half of last year (his strikeout rates collapsed in the second half, 4.4 K/9 -- untenably low). Now this turd to start his season. Yech.

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