Bullpen falters as Rays drop opener
'Pen surrenders six straight hits in Tigers' big seventh inning
DETROIT -- Manager Joe Maddon fielded questions before the game about what he has seen out of Edwin Jackson to continue sending him out every fifth day for the Devil Rays. His improved maturity on the mound and physical ability were the biggest reasons Jackson has stayed in the rotation, despite his 11 losses and 6.00-plus ERA.Maddon was right about Jackson. Too bad that same message wasn't said about the bullpen, namely Gary Glover. Jackson allowed two runs over six innings, but the Rays' bullpen couldn't hold the lead in a 6-4 loss to the Tigers on Monday night at Comerica Park. "I mean, I feel terrible for the team and for Jackson especially," said Glover, who retired just one batter and allowed four runs in relief of Jackson. "He pitched a [good] ballgame and in a matter of two minutes, I managed to dismantle the whole thing and turn it around and put the momentum back in their favor." It didn't quite last just two minutes, but the seventh inning went by awfully quick for Glover. After Glover retired Polanco to lead off the seventh, he allowed a home run to Sean Casey, giving the Rays an uncomfortable one-run lead. The Tigers then took the lead, 5-4, with four straight hits before Grant Balfour came in to replace Glover. "I thought he had real good stuff," manager Joe Maddon said of Glover. "You want to give him a chance to get out of that situation because he has before." Balfour gave up a single to load the bases and got Brandon Inge to hit a high fly ball to left-center field. One of the Rays' outfielders, either B.J. Upton or Carl Crawford, had a slight chance to throw out Ryan Raburn at home ... if they had caught the ball. Upton and Crawford stood about three feet apart as the ball fell in between them, though Crawford did throw out Omar Infante at second base for a fielder's choice. "A run probably would have scored, regardless," said Maddon, who thought Upton probably would have had the better chance to throw out the runner at home. "He's the dominant arm in that situation and he's got a better angle on the throw." Even if Raburn was thrown out at home, the Tigers still would have had the lead, meaning there was no way for Jackson to get the win, even though he left with a two-run lead. Jackson was by no means untouchable, as he allowed at least two baserunners in each of his first five innings and 11 total. But he worked through each spot and finally had his first 1-2-3 inning in the sixth. He lowered his ERA to 6.35, the lowest it has been since April 25. "[My stuff] was all right," Jackson said. "It wasn't necessarily the best game I've thrown. [I] just kept attacking, attacking whether ahead of the count or behind." The four walks Jackson allowed didn't bother the pitcher or Maddon, who reflected his pregame comments again after the game. "The thing I really liked is that he pitched out of some situations and didn't give up the big inning and absolutely gave us a chance to win that game," Maddon said. "He threw it softer in crucial moments with his changeup and his slider. That was what I really liked about that." Former Tiger Carlos Pena had an RBI double in his first at-bat as a visitor at Comerica Park. Rookie Akinori Iwamura extended his hit streak to a career-high 12 games with a single in the fifth, and B.J. Upton drove him in with a three-run homer, but it wasn't enough to overcome the rough night for Glover. "It's something I've gotta have a short-term memory with and come out and be ready to go tomorrow and keep my confidence up," Glover said.
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.