Mar 11, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan (36) throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Nathan falls apart as Detroit Tigers lose to Miami Marlins 8-4

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The Detroit Tigers dropped their Grapefruit League game to the Miami Marlins on Sunday in Lakeland behind an awful performance from the back-end of the bullpen, including Joe Nathan.

Drew Smyly allowed a few long balls, including a two-run moonshot to Giancarlo Stanton, which put an exclamation point on a tough day at the office for the Tigers’ fifth starter. Smyly seemed to struggle a bit and allowed a lot of traffic on the bases in his five innings of work (eight hits, three walks), but mitigated the damage to just three runs.

Miami received a sparking performance by former Detroit farmhand Jacob Turner. The right hander, who was sent to the Marlins in the trade that brought back Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante mid-year 2012, retired the first 11 batters and didn’t surrender a hit against his former teammates until the fifth inning.

The Tigers began life without Bruce Rondon on Sunday with pretty disastrous results. While they didn’t have the lead, they trotted out the relievers that will likely be seen while protecting a lead in the late innings. Joba Chamberlain, pitching in the set-up role the Tigers hope he can earn, surrendered two bloop singles after being ahead of both hitters to lead off the eighth. Two long fly-outs brought in the fourth run for Miami.

Danny Worth made a statement of his own after a week of people questioning his ability by launching a three-run homer to tie the game at four in the eighth inning. Joe Nathan came on in the ninth in the newly tied game, but allowed a lead-off triple to Adeiny Hechavarria, his third hit of the game, and allowed the go-ahead run to score on a Brian Bogusevic double. Several more runs scored as Nathan severely labored through the inning and was yanked. That is not something the Tigers wanted to see out of their high-priced closer, exhibition games or not.

Notes:

  • Al Albuquerque allowed a quick hit to lead off the seventh, but erased it on a double play and got a fly out to end the inning.
  • Most of the players in Sunday’s lineup played a full game.
  • Andrew Romine played in his first game as a Tiger and had a flawless performance at shortstop, including starting a double play. He didn’t record a hit, but showed hustle down the line and nearly beat out each of his ground outs on the day, including one that Brad Ausmus challenged. Romine seemed to touch the bag at the same time as the ball reached the first baseman’s glove. Thus there was no evidence to overturn the call.
  • The Tigers scored their first run when third basemen Casey McGehee allowed a ball to skip past him into left field. What would have been the third out turned into a run scored for Austin Jackson (who stole second to get into scoring position). Jackson collected two more hits to run his spring average to .457.
  • Miguel Cabrera started at third base for the first time in the spring, preparing to start there during the interleague trip to Los Angeles and San Diego in the second week of the regular season. Those plans were scuttled when Don Kelly left the game with a tight hamstring, forced Miggy back to first. Kelly will be re-evaulated on Monday. BREAKING NEWS: The Tigers don’t need any more injuries.

The Tigers will head on the road again on Monday afternoon, facing the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.

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