Potential rally washed away in rain-shortened loss

Potential rally washed away in rain-shortened loss

Potential rally washed away in rain-shortened loss
BOSTON -- When the Tigers look back on their struggles to drive in runs at times this season, they'll look at this one and have to shake their heads.

Officially, they left three men on base in the sixth inning, including the potential tying run, according to the box score of Tuesday's 4-1 loss. But Mother Nature stranded the bases loaded.

Once crew chief Jerry Layne made the call to stop the game at that point and call for the tarp as Omar Infante stepped to the plate as the potential go-ahead run, there was pretty much no chance to get it going again. It was a rainy affair pretty much from the outset, and a steady rain from the second or third inning on. It was raining heavier in the sixth inning than at any other point in the game. The radar looked terrible, and the rain wasn't expected to end until after 1 a.m. ET.

Whether it was the right call to stop it was certainly up for debate, and both manager Jim Leyland and losing pitcher Justin Verlander left that question open. But they didn't characterize it as an easy call to make either way, either.

"Certainly, to call the game at this point was the right call," Leyland said after their fifth loss in their last six games came in a rain-shortened affair. "Could we have maybe gotten through that inning? Who knows? That's a tough situation for an umpire, but I think they definitely made the right call, calling it now. So be it. We put ourselves in an unfortunate situation."

Verlander, whose streak of consecutive starts lasting six innings ended at 63, took the loss on his shoulders, saying he has work to do before his next outing next Monday against the Yankees.

Still, the righty admitted, he would've liked for the game to have gone one more batter, even though he understands why it didn't.

"I don't think they could've waited any longer," Verlander said. "It was getting pretty bad out there. Obviously I would've liked to seen them give it one more at-bat. Who knows what happens? Infante hits a grand slam and we'd be walking out of here winners right now. But you can't fault those guys. I think they waited as long as they possibly could."

The delay lasted one hour, 45 minutes, well longer than the usual wait time before calling a game according to Leyland.

Even before the rains washed out the rest of the evening, they wreaked havoc on the game. Josh Beckett retired the first eight Tigers he faced and then didn't get another out despite not allowing another ball put in play once Infante's infield single extended the third inning.

Austin Jackson worked a full count before Beckett's payoff pitch hit him, then Quintin Berry and Miguel Cabrera drew back-to-back five-pitch walks, driving in Infante. Beckett winced on ball four to Cabrera, bringing out the athletic training staff to see what happened.

After a lengthy talk, Beckett left with what the team called a back spasm. That brought in Clayton Mortensen, who was called up earlier in the day as a temporary fill-in until trade acquisition Craig Breslow arrives on Wednesday. Prince Fielder hit a hard line drive to center, but right at Jacoby Ellsbury.

It was the second consecutive night the Tigers left the bases loaded in the third inning. Still, it gave them a lead behind Verlander, who survived a 35-pitch opening inning to strand the bases loaded and keep the Red Sox scoreless as he tried to find his command.

With those rainy conditions, with a losing battle to keep the mound in good condition, he never found it.

"Verlander was totally out of sync," Leyland said. "I don't think I've seen him out of sync as much as he was tonight for a long, long time, for whatever reason. From the get-go, he was out of sync."

Once Verlander had to gear up his fastball to the upper 90s and lengthen out his stride, he said, he felt his footing slip on a couple pitches.

"Hey, it's the same for both sides," Verlander said. "Just wasn't able to make the adjustments as quickly as I would've liked. I've dealt with wet mounds. There was only a couple pitches there where I actually felt myself slip, but just knowing how things have worked in the past, if I can feel myself slip on the other pitches, I'm probably slipping enough to not allow myself to get on top of the baseball."

Once two singles and a walk loaded the bases again in the fourth inning, Boston's second bases-loaded opportunity was the one that turned the game around. Pedro Ciriaco's single tied it, and then Verlander (11-7) lost Jacoby Ellsbury to a walk that pushed across the go-ahead run.

The crushing shot wasn't much at all, a Carl Crawford chopper that bounced over Verlander before skirting past Infante at second for a costly error that allowed a fourth run.

"I don't think you're ever quite expecting that scenario, especially when it's soaking wet out there," Verlander said. "You don't expect a high chopper to bounce over your head when it's soaking wet outside. It was one of the few pitches that inning I actually executed. Got the result I wanted, I got a ground ball. Wrong guy, wrong spot."

Wrong night.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.