DETROIT -- If you listened to Doug Fister after Friday's game, you probably thought he had just pitched the worst game of his career.
If you then looked at his box-score line, you'd be even more convinced. Fister didn't get out of the fourth, allowing six runs on 11 hits and a walk in 3 13 innings.
"I just didn't do my job," Fister said. "I didn't execute. I felt good, and I thought I made some good pitches, but there were too many pitches that I didn't make."
That, though, is Doug Fister. If he pitched a one-hitter and lost 1-0, he'd take all of the blame, while he's more than happy to credit winning performances to his teammates. On Friday, he was being a little hard on himself. Yes, he did allow a first-inning homer to Shane Victorino, but Boston's next five runs came off a bewildering array of bloopers, infield singles and balls that found the tiniest gap in Detroit's defense.
"He certainly wasn't at his sharpest today, but I don't think Doug pitched badly at all," Jim Leyland said. "I'm not making an excuse for him, but he didn't have any luck, either. When they hit the ball hard, and they did hit some hard, they got a bit. When they didn't hit the ball hard, and there were some of those as well, they still got hits."
Things finally fell apart in the fourth. Fister retired Daniel Nava to start the inning, but the next six batters all got hits, leading to four runs and the end of his night. Just to show how badly things had gone for him, Darin Downs came into the game and got David Ortiz to ground into an inning-ending double play on his first pitch.
"This wasn't a good day for us," Brayan Pena said. "Doug will tell you that he didn't pitch well he's always the first to admit that but we sure didn't get much luck, either. That's how this game is, though. Some days everything is great, and some days you have to play the Red Sox, and they put every ball into play and you don't get any breaks."
Fister's biggest problem was the lack of a strikeout pitch. He came into the game averaging over seven strikeouts per nine innings, but he didn't get any against Boston. The Red Sox put 20 balls into play against him, and 10 ended up dropping for hits.
"It wasn't his night, that's for sure," Leyland said. "But give Boston credit. They put the ball into play and made all those things happen."
Detroit's offense tried to keep the Tigers in the game Miguel Cabrera hit his 20th homer and slumping Andy Dirks hit one off the Belle Tire sign in right but the bullpen kept leaking runs.
Downs gave up a run in the sixth, Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque combined to give up a pair in the eighth and an error by Avisail Garcia in center field let the Red Sox reach double figures in the ninth.
"We just never stopped the bleeding," Leyland said. "Our offense was keeping us alive, but those add-on runs just killed us."
That wasn't a good sign, especially from a bullpen already in turmoil, but Albuquerque's outing did give a glimmer of hope. On his first day back from Toledo, he held four batters to two infield bouncers and two pop ups, and while two runs did score, one of them was on an apparent missed call at the plate.
"I'll sleep better tonight," Pena said after learning that replays had shown Jhonny Peralta's throw to the plate had indeed beaten Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "I was sure we had him."
The other one scored on what remains Alburquerque's Achilles' heel, the wild pitch.
"He throws a great slider, and I thought it was very good today on his first outing up here in a while," Leyland said. "But when you throw a slider that breaks like that, you are going to bounce a couple. It's just something you have to live with if you want his slider."
Right now, with Jose Valverde gone and several relievers struggling in Detroit or trying to find themselves in Toledo, the Tigers will take Alburquerque. He isn't enough to solve the bullpen problems alone, but he's a start.