Detroit Sunday's baseball game at Comerica Park had its mysteries. Begin by asking how nine innings between the Tigers and Yankees could turn into the most boring 3 hours and 21 minutes of big league baseball in history. At least that was a personal and, probably, understated view of a game the Yankees won, 7-0, and which somehow featured the worst pace and fewest intricacies of any major league contest I've ever attended or covered. A separate riddle Sunday had to do with Tigers reliever Phil Coke. He had a bad day. His earned-run average after three 2013 games is 16.20, which includes a brilliant outing in last week's opener against the Twins. He faced five batters Sunday, allowing three hits, a long sacrifice fly, and two runs. Struggling against righties Coke is at the heart of the Tigers' never-ending bullpen issues. He was considered for a while a potential closer after he pitched gallantly during last autumn's playoffs. And when he got the save on Opening Day at Minnesota, it looked as if Coke might be an answer to manager Jim Leyland's ninth-inning vacancy. Relief pitchers have ups. They have downs. And so, two clunkers within three games is nothing by which to measure Coke. But what doesn't add up is why Coke, who throws left-handed, has such acute problems against right-handed batters. The numbers are stark. Coke entered Sunday's game with right-handers hitting .301 against him during his seven seasons in the majors. Last year was particularly ugly. In 52 games during the regular season, right-handed batters rolled up a .396 average and a 1.050 OPS (.446 on-base percentage plus .604 slugging percentage), which is no way to earn a team's late-innings trust. Leyland was asked Sunday about the Coke conundrum. Good pitcher. Bad results, sometimes anyway, particularly against those guys who swing right-handed.
Tigers' Phil Coke can't find right stuff to solve right-handed hitters
Detroit News | Apr 8