Fister struggles in ejection-marred loss

Fister struggles in ejection-marred loss

Fister struggles in ejection-marred loss
BOSTON -- The Tigers' road trip of disagreement resumed Monday at Fenway Park. Unlike their arguments last week in Cleveland, however, they didn't have a close game by the time it was over.

Doug Fister was working a tie game when he thought he had racked up an inning-ending strikeout of Mike Aviles. By the time the inning actually ended, Aviles, Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia all had two-out RBI hits.

It wasn't the primary reason for the Tigers' 7-4 loss to the Red Sox on a Memorial Day matinee, not when Fister struggled to recover from there and ended up with one of his roughest outings statistically with Detroit, while the offense continued to struggle against left-handed pitchers. However, it set the tone on the field during the game and in the clubhouse afterwards.

"I give them all the credit in the world," manager Jim Leyland said of the Red Sox. "They took advantage of some mistakes, and they took advantage of another mistake that wasn't Doug's mistake. I'm sure you'll figure that out."

It didn't take much explanation.

"Do I feel fortunate? We won, so yeah," Aviles said.

Fister's six earned runs matched his total from his previous five starts this season and ranked as one of his two highest outputs given up since his trade to the Tigers last July, as did his 11 hits allowed. The righty threw strikes, but more hittable ones than usual, and he was hurt by at least three hits after 0-2 counts.

That said, Fister would've escaped half that damage if not for his 0-2 pitch in question to Aviles, who seemingly had swung and missed at a curveball. Home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson initially said Aviles struck out, but first-base umpire Bill Welke overruled the call, saying Aviles had tipped it into the dirt. Replays showed Aviles had missed the pitch and catcher Gerald Laird caught it.

The ruling on the foul tip came from Nelson. Once Aviles said the ball bounced, Nelson turned to Welke for clarification.

"It's a tough call," Aviles said. "Where the first-base umpire is and the home-plate umpire is, it's just a tough situation, tough call, where you really can't see it 100 percent. It's just a judgment call. If you can see it, then great. If not, so be it. It's just one of those things where you have to make a call.

"It's unfortunate they have to be put in that situation. The ball rolled in our favor today, so that's great, right?"

Aviles' RBI single came two pitches later, scoring Ryan Sweeney to pull Boston in front at 2-1. The next two RBI hits after that -- Nava's double off the center-field fence and Pedroia's single off Prince Fielder's glove at first -- turned out to have a big impact in the outcome.

"I didn't execute," Fister said. "I felt like I threw a good pitch and [Aviles] missed it. Whether the umpire called it right or wrong, I'm not saying one way or the other. I have to throw him another pitch. I've got to come back and execute, and I didn't execute."

Before Jarrod Saltalamacchia added a third-inning solo homer off Fister, Leyland and third-base coach Gene Lamont were gone before the frame began, having been ejected for arguing. Of greater impact, however, the Tigers' offense that had produced timely runs in Minnesota never got started.

The Tigers have struggled to hit left-handed pitchers, batting 40 points lower against southpaws, and Felix Doubront continued the trend. Solo homers from Delmon Young and Laird comprised all the scoring damage off Doubront, who kept Detroit's other right-handed hitters contained.

Before the game, Leyland had said that Detroit needed a spark from Ryan Raburn and Jhonny Peralta to get its offense going. Peralta hit a two-run homer in the ninth, but the game was out of hand by then. Raburn, meanwhile, struck out three times, dropping his batting average to .146.

"He didn't swing the bat," Leyland said of Raburn. "He took too many pitches."

The Tigers (23-25), meanwhile, lost out on a chance to climb back to .500 after three straight wins against the Twins over the weekend.

"It almost seems like we're battling to get out of this funk that we're in and we still can't get a break," said Laird, who hit his second home run on the year. "We won three in a row and we come in feeling good about ourselves, and you know."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.