Pelfrey shoulders blame for Tigers' loss

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — All that positive energy and good feeling from the rousing, come from behind 4-2 win Friday night dissipated quickly Saturday night.

Most of it was gone after the first inning.

Momentum in baseball really is only as good as the next day’s starter.

The Royals walked all over Mike Pelfrey, scoring four runs before the Tigers even came to bat and cruised to an 8-4 victory at Comerica Park.

BOX SCORE: Royals 8, Tigers 4

“This game is on me,” Pelfrey said afterward. “I put the bullpen in a bad spot. I put the offense in a bad spot. I take full responsibility for it.” 

Pelfrey could not locate home plate umpire Vic Carapazza’s strike zone. He walked two batters, then hit Paulo Orlando with the bases loaded in the first. He also gave up RBI singles to Alex Gordon and Cheslor Cuthbert. 

He walked two more batters in the second before leaving with the bases loaded and two outs.

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“I expected to be a little out of sync because we had a couple of extra days off, but I didn’t expect to be that bad,” he said. “I was terrible. I didn’t get ahead. Half the guys I faced I either walked or hit.”

The 1⅔ innings was the second shortest outing of his career and it came after two of his best starts of the season — limiting the Rays and Blue Jays to a run in 6 and 6⅓ innings before the All-Star break. 

 “I expected to be a little off, like I said,” Pelfrey said. “Pitching is all about rhythm and timing. But I didn’t expect to feel like I never threw a ball before. It was embarrassing.” 

He knew he was off in the bullpen before the game.

“I wasn’t any good in the 'pen,” he said. “I threw a ball that (catcher James) McCann couldn’t even get a glove on. Pretty bad.”

He didn’t blame Carapazza’s strike zone, either.

“I thought he was fine behind the plate,” Pelfrey said. “I was just terrible. I need to get back on a routine here and I will be better.”

Ian Kinsler almost single-handedly tried to make a game of it. He doubled and scored on a single by Cameron Maybin in the first, then hit a two-run home run, his 18th on the year, in the third. 

That made it 5-3, but it was as close as the Tigers would get. 

“That’s not how you draw it up,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “The goal now is to win the series. Win tomorrow and today is forgotten.”

The Tigers paraded six relievers after Pelfrey left.

Right-hander Dustin Molleken pitched scoreless baseball in the third and fourth, but he gave up a single to Cuthbert and, after a wild pitch, an RBI single to Christian Colon to start the fifth.

Left-hander Kyle Ryan was summoned and things got messy. He gave up a single to left-handed hitting Jarrod Dyson, which was the first mistake.

Colon was going to stop at third, but seeing the Tigers lollygagging the relay from the outfield, he bolted for home and scored without a throw.

Ryan then had Dyson picked off first, but Miguel Cabrera’s throw to second was wide and Dyson was safe. He scored on a single by another left-handed hitter, Eric Hosmer – 8-3.

It was all the cushion Royals starter Danny Duffy needed. He allowed just three hits through six innings, and none after Kinsler’s home run — until the seventh.

Nick Castellanos and Mike Aviles singled, and then with one out, Tyler Collins, lefty-on-lefty, bounced an RBI single to right field to chase Duffy from the game. 

The Tigers still had runners at first and third and one out, but side-arming reliever Peter Moylan induced a 6-3 double-play grounder from Jose Iglesias to end the inning.

Alex Wilson, Bruce Rondon, Shane Greene and Mark Lowe put up zeros from the sixth through the ninth.

“Other than Molleken, everyone else is fine,” Ausmus said regarding the condition of his bullpen. “Most hadn’t pitched in a week and they all kept their pitch counts down. The all should be available.”

That may have been the only silver lining for the Tigers. 

Twitter @cmccosky