Lackey Dominant; Road Trip Ended at 6-3

John Lackey allowed five walks against the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon. That was the only significant damage inflicted upon the Angels starter in his eight innings of one-hit work. Scot Shields only allowed one hit in a scoreless as the Tigers were dumped 4-0 in the final game of a nine-game, three city, road trip.

The Tigers went 6-3, but ended on a sour note being shutout twice in three games against Los Angeles. On Monday night, Ervin Santana struck out 10 batters in six innings and his bullpen tallied four more strikeouts in three shutout innings to give the Angels the 3-0 win. After that game, manager Jim Leyland expressed his concern with the team’s two-strike approach:

“The greatest hitter of all-time, Ted Williams, said that when the pitcher gets you 1-2 or 0-2, you’re on the defensive,” Leyland said. “You can’t be as offensive. You have to make an adjustment. And we’re not making adjustments.”

The team followed up with games of six and eight strikeouts.

“I’m not trying to change anybody’s swing,” Leyland said. “But we swing and miss too much. You’ve got to put some balls in play in big situations… Leyland continued, “You don’t want to take away your aggressiveness, but you definitely have to tone it down in certain situations.”

In 64 at-bats with an 0-2 count, the Tigers have registered 27 strikeouts. Down 1-2, 45 of 100 at-bats have resulted in a strikeout. On a 2-2 count, the team is batting an absymal .209 with 43 strikeouts in 110 at-bats, including 13 K’s from Chris Shelton in 24 at-bats. They are dead even at 25 with walks and strikeouts in 67 full counts, but hitting just .179. All told, the team strikes out 41% of the time they are in a two-strike count (140-for-341).

The level of patience displayed against Lackey with the five walks is encouraging, but likely more attributed to Lackey’s wildness than the team’s sharpened eye. Lackey has walked four or more (topping out at eight) in four of his five starts. Without a more patient approach at the plate, the Tigers will be susceptible to big strikeout nights all season.

The team has an off day tomorrow before hosting the struggling Minnesota Twins for three and then two-game stints against Kansas City and Los Angeles to round out a seven game homestand. At 13-9, the team is a game and a half behind the Chicago White Sox. A change fortunes at home might allow the Tigers to leapfrog the White Sox in the coming week. They are 11-4 on the road, but just 2-5 at home.

Dan Johnson Watch
Oakland A’s first baseman Dan Johnson broke out with a big game on Wednesday going 2-for-4 with a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth. The home run was his first of the season and the two hits rocketed his average up to .145. Way to go, Dan!!!

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