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Pitching again the culprit in the Tigers' 12-1 loss

KANSAS CITY -- Where to begin?

The Detroit Tigers got absolutely shellacked Wednesday night, falling 12-1 to the Kansas City Royals in one of those games that sure seemed like a microcosm of the season.

Most conspicuously, pitching was poor.

Starter Randy Wolf, who delivered two strong outings in his first pair of starts with the organization, faltered from the beginning. The 39-year-old veteran struggled with his command, giving up a home run to the second batter he faced, falling behind guys in the count and, as he himself admitted, failing to throw a curveball to save his life.

“It was tough, and I made it especially tough on myself,” Wolf said. “I really struggled with my command tonight. I wasn’t able to get ahead of guys and when I did, I made mistakes, whether it was 0-2 or first pitch. I just had really bad command tonight. Against any team, let alone a team that is hot like this, you can't make those kinds of mistakes.”

The score was already 6-0 in the fourth inning by the time he was replaced by reliever Guido Knudson, who surrendered a three-run homer immediately and saw the game slip even further out of reach.

The 26-year-old Knudson, who made his MLB debut just last month, is struggling mightily as Wednesday night marked the fourth straight appearance in which he has allowed a home run.

The onslaught eventually prompted Buck Farmer out of the bullpen, a move manager Brad Ausmus decided prior to the game, throwing the team’s starting rotation into flux once again. With Farmer originally slated to start on Friday, the Tigers will have to fill that slot. Kyle Ryan, who was recently recalled, seems a likely candidate.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, this is nothing new. The team -- which again finds itself 10 games under .500 at 61-71 -- sits 8½ games back from the second wild card spot in the American League, and it’s pretty easy to understand why.

“When you’re at the bottom of the league in ERA, that’s a definite concern,” Ausmus said. “We’ve had the saying for 130 years in baseball that pitching and defense wins championships. They have that saying for a reason.”

The Tigers are 28th in the league with a 4.60 ERA, which ranks dead last in the American League.

Offensively, the Tigers' bats yielded little off Royals starter Yordano Ventura, who gave up just five hits and one run, and finished with 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work.

"He commanded the baseball, threw the ball well," said infielder Ian Kinsler, the glaring omission of course being that Ventura drilled him between the shoulder blades in his first at-bat before the game.

It did not help matters that Detroit saw its best hitter exit the game in the fourth inning, when Miguel Cabrera was ejected for arguing after a called strike that he clearly did not like.

Cabrera appeared to voice his displeasure with plate umpire Quinn Wolcott, but it was actually third-base crew chief Gary Cederstrom who tossed Cabrera from the game.

The 32-year-old was clearly frustrated with the ejection afterward.

“I try to do my job. I try to get on base. We got a long game so if you try to do your job and the umpire don’t let you do it, why do we play this game? Why are we there, if we try so hard for [this game], and they throw you out whenever they want to throw you out,” Cabrera said. “That’s his fault, that’s not my fault. He calls pitches down, inside, up and in. That’s not my fault. I’m just doing my job, that’s it.”

Cabrera, who seemed disturbed by the futility of even arguing at that point, also was wary of further discipline from the league.

“He don't got nothing to do with that play,” Cabrera said of Cederstrom. “I don't know. Eventually [you’re] gonna write something and Major League [Baseball] is gonna fine me, so I don't care. What am I gonna do? I didn't do anything.”