DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers have seen both ends of the American League pitching spectrum in their last two games.
After being slowed by Seattle All-Star Cliff Lee, the Tigers became the latest team to batter slumping Kevin Millwood in a 12-9 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.
“We know we’ve got a great lineup that just got shut down by a great pitcher,” said Carlos Guillen, who had three RBIs. “Today, we did what a good team should do and bounced back.”
Millwood was yanked after allowing five runs in a 45-pitch first inning. He has allowed at least two first-inning runs in eight of his last nine starts.
“This is about as bad as it gets,” the 14-year veteran said. “I don’t know what to say. I’ve tried a lot of things, and none of them have worked.”
Baltimore manager Juan Samuel doesn’t know what to make of Millwood’s struggles.
“The ball isn’t coming out of his hand well, and his velocity isn’t there,” Samuel said. “He’s not the kind of guy who is going to tell us if something’s wrong — he just wants the ball — but we couldn’t send him back out there after that inning.”
Detroit rookie starter Andy Oliver didn’t fare much better, giving up six runs — five earned — in 1 2-3 innings. Handed an early 5-1 lead, he gave up five runs in the second.
“He didn’t have command, and when you can’t throw strikes up here, you pay the price,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He’ll be fine. He just couldn’t find the strike zone today.”
On a 90-degree day, the game’s opening two innings took 80 minutes to play and required 145 pitches to get 12 outs. Detroit led 8-6 at the end of the second.
“That was ugly — real ugly — but it was pretty at the end,” Leyland said. “It was a tough day to play for both teams, and there wasn’t much pitching, but we ended up on the right side of the score.”
Orioles pitchers never managed a 1-2-3 inning in just the third major league game in two years where neither starting pitcher lasted two innings. It happened last April 14 between Philadelphia and Washington, and also occurred in an Orioles-Tigers game at Comerica Park on Aug. 17, 2008, when Baltimore’s Garrett Olsen and Detroit’s Zach Miner got tagged.
Brandon Inge, who had four RBIs, Guillen and Johnny Damon each had three of Detroit’s 17 hits in a game that lasted 3:44.
“It was hot — I think the veins are still popping out of my head,” Inge said. “You don’t want to play that long in this kind of heat and end up with a loss.”
Brennan Boesch was the only starter without a hit, but became the first Tigers rookie to walk four times in a game since Steve Boros in 1961.
Baltimore’s Jake Fox hit the game’s lone home run, making it 8-7 in the third. Matt Wieters had a two-run double off Jose Valverde in the ninth, but the Detroit closer escaped a two-on, one-out jam to end it.
“We always thought we had a chance to get back into the game,” Samuel said. “We’ve been in these situations, and we keep fighting, so I knew we’d give ourselves a chance.”
Still, the Orioles ended up losing their fourth in five games, and Samuel hinted that there would be roster moves before the teams met again Tuesday night.
“We’re looking at a lot of things — whether we need an extra pitcher after using the ‘pen so much today or whether we need another hitter,” he said. “We don’t have to decide anything until tomorrow.”
Eddie Bonine (4-0) got the win despite allowing six hits, including Fox’s homer, in 2 2-3 innings.
“When you make it hard on yourself in this kind of heat, which I did, it becomes an endurance thing,” he said. “I can’t even imagine trying to pitch seven or eight innings in that weather.”
Mark Hendrickson (1-4) allowed three runs and six hits in three innings.
The Tigers held their 8-7 edge until the fifth, when Austin Jackson hit an RBI triple and scored on a single by Magglio Ordonez.
NOTES: Adam Jones made the final out of Baltimore’s first two innings, and three of its first four. He singled to lead off the seventh, meaning all 18 starters had reached base via a hit or walk. … Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya will undergo surgery on July 12 to stabilize a broken bone in his pitching elbow. He will miss the rest of the season with the injury, sustained while throwing a pitch on June 28. … Damon now has 2,499 career hits. He reached base in the eighth inning on what could have been hit 2,500, but after the Tigers had already retrieved the ball as a memento, the play was ruled an error on third baseman Miguel Tejada.