Manager Jim Leyland has warned that each young pitcher would encounter rough stretches this year, even after they have both gotten off to promising starts. Leyland proved prophetic, as they have experienced tough losses in back-to-back starts.
"What you saw last night was Verlander's youth, he lost his composure a bit. That's gonna happen," Leyland said. "Today, I don't really think you saw Andrew's youth. Actually, I was happier with Andrew today than another game, when he won."
That's because Miller was more willing to use his breaking ball, an important sign for Miller if he wants to continue to improve as a pitcher. Miller said he probably threw more breaking balls than any of his previous starts since he was given a full-time shot as a starter on June 10.
"I think I threw eight offspeed pitches the whole game against Atlanta," Miller said of his six shutout innings over the Braves in his last start. "I threw a lot more than that today, I think a quarter of my pitches were offspeed. That's probably the one good thing I can take from this."
Miller allowed one run in the second, third and fourth innings for a 3-1 deficit. The Tigers scored a run in the first on an RBI single from Carlos Guillen. A 3-1 deficit is manageable for the potent Tigers offense, even without designated hitter Gary Sheffield, who was serving a two-game suspension.
But Michael Cuddyer's three-run homer in the fifth put the Tigers down, 6-1, for the second straight night.
"We lost by three runs," Miller said, "and I gave up a three-run home run."
It was too much for the Tigers to overcome, even after Curtis Granderson, Marcus Thames and Ivan Rodriguez all hit homers.
The offense was there, but reliever Jason Grilli's struggles at home continued. He entered the game with a 10.91 ERA in 15 appearances at home with a 1.86 ERA in 12 games on the road. That burgeoning home ERA actually shrunk on Saturday, even after he allowed a two-run homer to Lew Ford in the sixth.
Leyland said he was puzzled by Grilli's struggles at home and planned to talk with him about it, though Grilli was just as confused as Leyland.
"I don't have an answer," Grilli said. "It's probably a coincidence."
"It's not like I'm happy to be on the road. I'm happily married and I've got a little baby on the way, so I'm excited to be home, too."
Grilli didn't allow a run after the homer to Ford, who hit just his second homer of the year.
"The irony of the whole thing is, I'm not giving up homers to Vladimir Guerrero or Vernon Wells or whoever else," Grilli said. "It's the Lew Fords, who have one or two home runs. I don't get it."
Grilli's comments weren't a knock on Ford, just built up frustration over making one or two bad pitches that have cost him. He struck out four over 2 2/3 innings.
"We let the table setters get on, and they're real dangerous," Leyland said. "Today, one of the table setters hit a two-run homer."
It's not like Grilli has been the only Tiger to struggle at home recently. The Tigers have lost four of five games at home after a seven-game winning streak. Leyland didn't want to use fatigue as an excuse, but he had a theory for the recent struggles.
"Nobody's dogging, I want to make that perfectly clear. I think they're seeing the [All-Star] break and seeing this stretch," Leyland said. "Guys are a little tired."