After spending a month in the minors to work out some kinks, Jesse Litsch came back to the majors and passed his first test with flying colors against the Detroit Tigers Thursday. Unfortunately for Litsch, the bullpen blew the lead he exited with, and the offense didn't give him much run support at all in a 5-1 defeat.
Litsch handcuffed Detroit's hitters with a newly added four-seam fastball and more of a focus on his sinker.
The 23-year-old right-hander shook off his recent woes, scattering four hits—all singles—and finishing with three strikeouts in seven innings.
In my opinion, manager Cito Gaston likely cost his team the game. Up 1-0 going into the eighth, Litsch reached 111 pitches, meaning it was time to turn to the bullpen. Gaston made the right move by going to Jesse Carlson, but made a big mistake in taking him out much too early.
Carlson got the first batter on a flyout and Gaston then went to Jason Frasor. Not only is Frasor known for crumbling in tight situations, but he also pitched two innings the night before. Also, Carlson was fresh after being off for a few days, and he is one of the top relievers on the club.
So, instead of Carlson finishing off the inning like he usually does and then having BJ Ryan to come out and close the ninth, Frasor proceeded to allow five runs, making the Jays' one-run lead a distant memory.
Lyle Overbay provided the only offense for this game with a solo home run in the fifth inning. Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga went eight strong innings, giving up that one run on six hits and two walks while striking out six.
If not for a bad decision from Cito Gaston, this game would have likely been in the bag.
Up next: Roy Halladay (13-9) starts off a series against the Boston Red Sox in a rematch from last week against Paul Byrd (7-10).