DENVER (AP) – Phil Coke felt like he was throwing the ball hard enough and well enough. Getting the ball where he wanted it to go was the problem.
Coke issued a career-high seven walks in five innings, including two during a three-run second inning, and the Detroit Tigers could not recover, losing to the Colorado Rockies 5-4 on Saturday night.
“It was a rough one,” said Coke, who lost a fifth consecutive decision dating back to April 19. “I didn’t feel like I got beat up too bad. I just felt like I didn’t quite have the command that I’m known for.”
Coke (1-7) allowed four runs on five hits in five innings. The most damaging stretch was in the second inning, when he issued two-out walks to Charlie Blackmon and Chris Iannetta followed by a two-run single by opposing pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. Carlos Gonzalez added an RBI single before Coke got Chris Nelson to line out to end the inning.
“His stuff was really good. His control wasn’t,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Two walks with two outs in that inning and then the pitcher getting the hit, that was the killer.”
Coke, who was pitching in Colorado’s thin air for the first time, said he wasn’t doing anything different on the mound, though he felt some of his pitches had a mind of their own.
“I was just trying to throw it up there and let them hit it,” he said. “But I had a little more run on certain things than I thought. Some of my sinkers, instead sinking, they were cutting across the plate. It makes it kind of tough because you do everything you know that you need to do physically and the ball doesn’t do what you told it to.
“It’s a weird game sometimes. That’s just how it goes. But I’m proud of myself for coming back and battling the way I did and I’m proud of the team because we kept grinding and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Jimenez (2-7) gave up three runs, scattered eight hits and struck out five in picking up the victory, the first for the Rockies ace at home this season. He left in the sixth after giving up a single to Andy Dirks because of a cramp in his right calf.
Nelson hit a homer for a second straight night as the Rockies won their fourth straight.
Once Jimenez went out, the Rockies used four relievers to get the ball to closer Huston Street in the ninth. Street gave up a two-out RBI single to Brennan Boesch before getting Miguel Cabrera to fly out for his 20th save.
Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, the Tigers had a big inning brewing when Victor Martinez and Dirks began with singles off Jimenez, who was then taken out. Jhonny Peralta reached on an infield single to load the bases and Ryan Raburn hit a liner to the gap in right-center. But Peralta was tagged out at home by Iannetta on a perfect relay throw from Troy Tulowitzki.
It wasn’t the Tigers’ night on the bases as Cabrera also was thrown out at home in the fourth.
Gonzalez and Ty Wigginton also drove in runs for Colorado, who’ve now beaten the Tigers in nine of the last 10 games at Coors Field.
Jimenez wiggled out of a potentially messy inning in the fourth with help from an unorthodox double play. With runners on first and third and no outs, Dirks hit a smash to Todd Helton, who stepped on first base before throwing to Tulowitzki.
But with Cabrera breaking for home on the play, Tulowitzki wheeled and delivered a strike to Iannetta, who tagged Cabrera on the leg. Cabrera briefly argued before retreating to the dugout.
The Tigers scratched out one run, though, when Peralta followed with a looping RBI double down the right-field line. Jimenez ended the inning by striking out Coke.
Cabrera remains red hot at Coors Field, finishing 1 for 3 with two walks to bring his career average in the Mile High City to .403.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)