Ian Kinsler homers, hits a walkoff single for the Tigers

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Ian Kinsler is making himself a lot of friends in Detroit. In his second game as a Tiger, Kinsler knocked in both of the Tigers’ runs via a fourth inning solo home run and a walkoff single in the 10th to give the Tigers a 2-1 win over Kansas City.

After Max Scherzer tossed eight shutout innings and Royals starter Jason Vargas allowed only one run in seven, the bullpens were big factors in this one. First up was new Tigers closer Joe Nathan, who allowed a single and then walked two to load the bases and then allowed a sac fly to send the game into extra innings. In the 10th, Ned Yost decided to go with Tim Collins even though Greg Holland was fresh, having only faced one batter two days ago. Collins walked two and then gave up the game-winning hit to Kinsler. Or game-losing, depending on your point of view.

So, two games between the Tigers and Royals and two games where Ned Yost’s bullpen usage played a big role (on Monday Yost went with Wade Davis to start a tied ninth inning and only called on Holland once two men were on base).

The bullpen is supposed to be the Royals’ greatest strength, but Yost is doing his best to neutralize that in the early going.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?