Wolf knocked off track by Royals' power bats
KANSAS CITY -- The surprise comeback story of Randy Wolf hit an obstacle on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. His fate wasn't so much at the hands of Father Time as the ones holding the bats who kept punishing pitches he struggled to spot.
Between an aggressive Royals lineup, a hot night and a bad breaking ball, Wolf had one of those games. And after back-to-back quality starts in defeat, his outcome was rarely in doubt in the Tigers' 12-1 loss.
"It was just really bad command today," said Wolf, who gave up eight runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings. "Against any team, let alone against a team that's hot and really good, you just can't make those kind of mistakes."
For two starts, Wolf succeeded on precise location and unpredictable pitch selection, changing speeds constantly and working around the corners. On a hot, humid night, however, he seemingly struggled with his grip as sweat soaked his jersey.
"It looked, the way he was wiping the sweat off his arm, that he had trouble getting a grip on the ball, arm dragging a little bit, couldn't get the curveball down," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He just wasn't as sharp as he was in his first two outings."
Wolf said the conditions weren't an excuse. He still threw strikes, 43 of them out of 71 pitches, but nearly 20 percent of those strikes went for hits. Five of those eight hits went for extra bases, including solo homers from Ben Zobrist in the first inning and Lorenzo Cain in the third.
"I didn't feel any differently," Wolf said of the conditions. "My job is to locate and mix speeds, and I just wasn't able to do that. I had chances to put guys away and wasn't able to do it."
Zobrist launched a 67-mph breaking ball into the Royals' bullpen in left. Cain turned on an 89-mph fastball and sent it out at 106 mph, and projected by Statcast™ to travel 458 feet from the plate to the stairway above the left-field bullpen.
Doubles from Jonny Gomes, Paulo Orlando and Cain rounded out the damage.
On the whole, the Tigers will take two quality starts every three outings at this point. Wolf's turn will come up again on Monday against the Rays, possibly opposite former Tigers lefty Drew Smyly.