DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland has repeatedly said the key for starting pitcher Armando Galarraga is his ability to throw strikes early in the count and get ahead of hitters. Apparently, the Rangers heard about that, too.
The right-hander's problems have always been with his tendency to dabble in the strike zone and not attack hitters. On Tuesday, he attacked, all right. But the Texas bats were up to the challenge and sent several fly balls deep to the warning track that would have been home runs in many ballparks across the league. He recorded 12 flyouts compared to just four groundouts, and seven of the nine hits he allowed in the Tigers' 8-0 loss were in the air.
The Rangers' bats were all over Galarraga early in counts and early in the game. On the first pitch of the game, Elvis Andrus lined a ball to center field, setting the tone for the aggressive plate appearances Galarraga was up against all night.
"The first inning, I started feeling [good]," Galarraga said. "But like I said before, these guys go crazy. First pitch is a base hit. Then I struck out [Michael] Young and he was swinging, swinging. Then I throw to [Ian] Kinsler a slider [for a ] strike and a slider knowing this guy is swinging like it's the sixth inning in a tie game. They were swinging big. Right away, I was like, 'OK, you have to make a pitch because you aren't going to last too long in this game.' It's something where the team needed you to be long in this game because we had a long game last night."
Galarraga gave up two runs in the first inning and one more in the second on a solo shot to David Murphy. The right-hander settled down and didn't allow another run until the sixth inning en route to throwing 7 1/3 innings with four earned runs and a season-high six strikeouts.
Galarraga said he would have been pleased with his outing if not for the two runs he surrendered in the first inning. He was able to locate his offspeed pitches from the start of the game, and he settled in nicely. But the damage was already done, especially with the Tigers' bats falling silent.
One positive, though, was Galarraga's ability to go deep in the game. Detroit's bullpen had thrown 20 2/3 innings in the past five games and desperately needed a light workload Tuesday. Luckily, Galarraga gave his longest outing in his past four starts.
"I thought he did a good job of keeping us in the game," Leyland said. "His command was pretty good and he battled. He tried to make good pitches and he did make a lot of good pitches. He made a couple bad pitches on the ones that got hit. He pitched well enough for us to win the game and have a good chance to win the game. We just didn't get it done and we didn't muster any offense."
-- Alex DiFilippo