ARLINGTON -- This is the negative side of the Tigers going young in their bullpen.Jeff Ferrell, who was called up Monday from Triple-A Toledo, was the eighth Tigers pitcher in Wednesday's 12-6 loss, as he labored through the top of the Rangers lineup trying to get the final out of
ARLINGTON -- This is the negative side of the Tigers going young in their bullpen.
Jeff Ferrell, who was called up Monday from Triple-A Toledo, was the eighth Tigers pitcher in Wednesday's 12-6 loss, as he labored through the top of the Rangers lineup trying to get the final out of the eighth inning. Warwick Saupold, who threw 34 pitches the night before, was the only reliever left. Utility man Andrew Romine, one of three players on the Tigers' bench, was an option to pitch if Ferrell's pitch count ran high.
Ferrell finally struck out Elvis Andrus to end the eighth. The eighth and final Tigers pitcher was just the third to not give up any runs. The other two, Daniel Stumpf and Alex Wilson, faced one batter each.
"We're trying to pull out all the stops to keep it close," manager Brad Ausmus said.
Stumpf was one of three Tigers relievers to pitch in the sixth, as the Tigers tried to stay in what was then a one-run game. Of those three, only Drew VerHagen has more than a year of Major League service time.
With veterans traded, demoted or released, this is the youth the Tigers have. With a slew of relief prospects working their way up the farm system, expect more of it.
"We have two guys with more than three years of service [Shane Greene and Wilson], and everyone else has got less than one [full] year of active time on a big league roster," Ausmus said. "So there's going to be some growing pains, and we've seen some of those growing pains the last couple days."
Ausmus warned of this a day earlier, that a lot of inexperienced arms would be called on in situations they haven't faced in the Majors before. After Anibal Sanchez left in the third inning with left hamstring tightness in a 4-4 game, those situations were frequent. The results were rough.
"When you have inexperience like that, there's sometimes going to be strike-throwing issues," Ausmus said. "There's going to be mistakes in the field like Stumpf [on Tuesday] with the stolen base, Joe Jimenez today with the bunt [single]. The only way they can gain experience to get past these things is to play at the Major League level. That's what they're doing, and hopefully, in the long run, it makes them better pitchers."
Jimenez, viewed by many as the Tigers' closer of the future, struck out Mike Napoli with a runner in scoring position to end the fifth, after replacing long reliever Chad Bell. He stayed on for the sixth, but allowed a leadoff baserunner when John Hicks booted Rougned Odor's grounder for an error. Jimenez hit the next batter, Robinson Chirinos, with a 2-2 pitch, then was slow to field Delino DeShields' ensuing bunt, loading the bases with no outs.
Hicks redeemed himself with a diving play on Shin-Soo Choo's grounder for the first out. On came VerHagen, but two ground-ball RBI singles and a walk stretched the lead to four. Two more ground-ball singles and a walk off Verhagen in the seventh tacked on another run to essentially put the game away.
With the Tigers out of contention, these are now teaching moments. With 42 games left in the season, expect plenty more of them.
"It's just experience," Ausmus said. "That's what happens when you have young players. So settle in."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.