After a rough patch the past couple of weeks, the Tigers have now rattled off four straight wins. Last night’s game was particularly important because after a series of days, the bullpen had been taxed. The team didn’t get a day off on Monday, so one of two things had to happen on Tuesday. Fortunately, the Tigers accomplished both of those things.
Step one to resting your bullpen is getting a nice long start from your starter. Kenny Rogers went eight innings, something he had only done twice prior to this in 2006. That’s the easy one. The longer your starters go, the less you need your pen.
The second thing, which is probably just as is important, is scoring some runs and the Tigers did that as well last night. Even if Rogers left after seven innings, they could have went to the back end of their bullpen to finish the game. In this one, they only needed one inning from Jason Grilli. If the bats weren’t there and the game was close then Leyland would have been forced to either pitch one of his front end bullpen guys on short rest or risk the game by throwing someone like Grilli in a high leverage situation.
The White Sox have kept pace with the Tigers over the past few days and they still sit a game and a half back. Just as important, the Tigers have outplayed the Yankees and Red Sox, so they’ve created a larger cushion (4 1/2 games) when it comes to the wild card.
Jeremy Bonderman throws against Mark Hendrickson tonight. One more win, and the Tigers will have matched their season win total for 2003.