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Pitching continues to be issue for Tigers

Special to MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Although the small sample of 13 games is not inherently foreboding for their performances once the season starts, most Tigers pitchers cannot be pleased with their results after another high-scoring loss Tuesday, an 11-6 setback against the Phillies.

Among the spotless exceptions are starters Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer, who have not allowed a run in 4 2/3 innings and three innings, respectively.

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LAKELAND, Fla. -- Although the small sample of 13 games is not inherently foreboding for their performances once the season starts, most Tigers pitchers cannot be pleased with their results after another high-scoring loss Tuesday, an 11-6 setback against the Phillies.

Among the spotless exceptions are starters Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer, who have not allowed a run in 4 2/3 innings and three innings, respectively.

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"Some of the starters have thrown and done well, which is important, because they're going to be the big chunk of the innings," manager Brad Ausmus said. "But today was the same story: We didn't pitch well. We didn't throw strikes. We walked too many guys. The silver lining is, if they keep pitching like this, the decisions will be easier."

Since Feb. 27, Detroit has allowed 82 runs in its past 10 games, increasing its team ERA to the highest in Spring Training at 6.93 and its team WHIP to second-worst at 1.81 (Miami, 1.88 is first). In that span, the Tigers have allowed 11 runs thrice and fewer than five runs once -- March 1 against Toronto in a 5-4 split-squad win, the team's most recent victory.

As Tuesday's loss demonstrated, even Detroit's best have not been immune. Ace right-hander Justin Verlander struggled to keep Philadelphia to one run in three innings and sports a 5.14 ERA in three starts.

Verlander hit hard before settling down

 

Left-hander Justin Wilson -- not long ago considered a promising young setup reliever -- got just one out in the fourth before two of three runners he bequeathed to fellow lefty Chad Bell scored. Bell left the bases loaded for left-hander Blaine Hardy the next inning, and again two of them scored. In the sixth, Hardy gave up a grand slam to Brock Stassi, his last batter; his replacement, yet another lefty, Daniel Stumpf, allowed a two-run homer to Bryan Holaday in the seventh.

Their ERAs are 13.50, 23.63, 13.50 and 6.75. Lefty Matt Boyd and righty Anibal Sanchez have each pitched twice, whereas right-hander Mike Pelfrey has made three appearances, in their battle to become the fifth starter. Boyd has allowed four runs in 3 2/3 innings (9.82 ERA), Sanchez seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings (23.62) and Pelfrey eight runs in six innings (12.00).

But Ausmus also pointed to some positives as his pitchers harness their command and develop pitches, specifically about Wilson from Tuesday's game.

"He wasn't as sharp with his command the first time out, but the ball was coming out very well," Ausmus said of Wilson's outing. "The slider is what I'd really like to see, because then it becomes a pitch he uses against lefties. He didn't face any lefties today, but the changeup's an additional weapon to righties. But the slider really could help him versus lefties."

Ausmus also did not hesitate in admitting it was a good time for an off-day, which the Tigers have Wednesday.

Zak Kerr is a contributor to MLB.com.

Detroit Tigers