Koehler not panicked after 1st-inning woes

Righty allows 4 runs in opening frame for 2nd straight start, but Tigers had to work at-bats

Koehler not panicked after 1st-inning woes

DETROIT -- The results may look the same, but Tom Koehler felt completely different on Wednesday in the Marlins' 10-3 loss to the Tigers than he did in his previous start.

What took place at Comerica Park may have mirrored on the scoreboard what happened on June 24 at Marlins Park against the Cubs. In both outings, Koehler surrendered four runs in the first inning. To the right-hander, though, that's where the similarities end.

"Obviously, it's not exciting, because you see it happening two games in a row, whether it's the same or different," said Koehler, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday. "Obviously, I'd like that to change. But I wouldn't say it's like anything that's necessarily going on."

The most noticeable change from the starts is that on Wednesday, the Tigers grinded out at-bats. They sent nine to the plate and had their first six reach base before Koehler recorded his first out, a strikeout of Steven Moya on his 33rd pitch.

Koehler finished the inning at 46 pitches, and a short start was inevitable. Dustin McGowan was warming up in the first inning, and Koehler was almost lifted before retiring the side.

"It was getting there," manager Don Mattingly said. "He was pretty much getting to his last hitter. There was a line."

In the grueling first inning, the Tigers had four runs on four hits with a walk, and Koehler hit Miguel Cabrera.

Against the Cubs in Miami, the Cubs did their damage quickly. Although Koehler gave up four runs in that first inning, he threw 24 pitches, and Chicago had a stretch of six hits on 14 pitches.

"Last time out against the Cubs, they're squaring everything up," Koehler said. "They're hitting line drives everywhere. They got, like, six hits on 14 pitches. Today, they're working at-bats."

Because of his last two starts, Koehler's ERA in the first inning has risen to 7.31 -- 13 earned runs in 16 innings.

If changes need to be made regarding his preparation or refining his mechanics, they will be subtle.

"He was fastball, slider, curveball," Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "I don't think he was really commanding his offspeed ptiches the way he wanted to. I thought he actually threw the ball OK. We worked a couple walks out of him in the first there."

For now, Mattingly isn't reading too much into the inflated numbers.

"Nothing other than that it's been rough," Mattingly said. "There's nothing we're going to do differently. He's had a rough couple of innings."

Koehler encountered more trouble in the second inning, after the Marlins closed the gap to 4-2. He allowed a run on a single by Cabrera, and Miami's chances to rally diminished.

Miggy's RBI single

For a while, Koehler was in danger of making his shortest big league start, which is 2 1/3 innings at Milwaukee on May 1. But he was able to finish three innings on 90 pitches.

"You throw [almost] 50 pitches in one inning, you're well aware you're probably not getting six," Koehler said. "I just wanted to give the bullpen as much as I could, because I knew at some point I'd be handing it over to them. I tried to get another one after the third, but Donnie made the right call because 90 pitches through three, that's going to put some strain on you."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.