You would think that a game that featured one run on ten combined hits wouldn't have provided many tight moments, but tonight's 1-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox was one of the exceptions. Here are five of the most crucial at-bats -- some based on win probability added, some not -- of the game and how they impacted the proceedings going forward.
Bottom of the 1st: Victor Martinez flies out to center.
This at-bat won't get the credit or blame it deserves, but the game turned significantly after this. To set the situation, the Tigers had been hitting Lackey hard throughout the first inning. Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder were both on base, and Austin Jackson had hit a sharp liner for an out. With two down, Martinez took the first pitch -- a belt-high fastball on the inner half. After that Lackey went to the steady diet of breaking balls that he threw throughout the afternoon. Lackey tossed four consecutive curveballs, the last of which resulted in this lefty strike in a 3-1 count.
After that, Martinez fouled off a fastball to the third base side before flying out to center on a second fastball on the outer half.
Had that fastball come on the 3-1 count, Martinez may have put more of a charge into it, but Lackey's 3-1 curveball had V-Mart back on his heels. This was the story for most of the afternoon, as the Tigers weren't able to settle in against Lackey after the first inning.
Bottom of the fifth: Omar Infante strikes out swinging.
Despite the offensive failures in the later innings, this might have been the most frustrating at-bat of the day. With Jhonny Peralta on third base with one out, Infante started off the at-bat by nearly swinging at a curveball in the dirt. Then, in a 1-0 count, he swung at the same exact pitch.
After a fastball missed outside, Infante swung at a 2-1 curveball that was outside and in the dirt. He checked on a fastball that nearly got by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, pushing the count to 3-2. After that, it was a steady diet of curveballs. He barely knicked one, ripped another one foul, and then flailed at the next pitch, missing a huge opportunity to put the Tigers ahead.
Eight pitches, two of which hit the strike zone. Plenty of chances to hit a ball into the outfield or by a defender and Infante couldn't capitalize.
Top of the seventh: Mike Napoli hits a solo shot to left.
The only appearances from the Red Sox on this list is the only at-bat that resulted in a run. Were there other key moments for them? Not particularly. Of their four baserunners in the game, two reached second base and none made it to third.
Anyway, back to the homer. Napoli had been flailing at the slider all game long, striking out twice before this at-bat. In this plate appearance, Napoli watched a pair of fastballs go by -- one strike, one ball -- before whiffing on a 95 mile per hour fastball that caught a lot of plate. Verlander missed down and away with a pair of sliders to push the count full, then: liftoff.
Verlander left it up and paid for it.
Bottom of the 8th: Miguel Cabrera strikes out.
Blame Prince if you want (and his at-bat would be #6 on this list, hands down) but this was the killer. Consecutive singles from Austin Jackson and Hunter gave Cabrera runners at the corners with one out. After Cabrera whiffed on a fastball on the lower outside corner of the plate, he went fishing. All four of Junichi Tazawa's pitches in this at-bat were fastballs, and Cabrera flailed at two of them out of the zone to give Tazawa a massive strikeout.
Prince Fielder struck out against Koji Uehara on three pitches in the next at-bat, but Cabrera's failure to even poke a ball into the outfield for a sacrifice fly is the more egregious act in this situation.
Bottom of the 9th: Jhonny Peralta grounds into a double play.
According to win probability added, this was the worst play of the day for the Tigers. Martinez had just singled to lead off the ninth inning, but Peralta took a questionable strike in a 1-1 count before grounding a 1-2 splitter from Koji Uehara -- who has arguably the best splitter in the game, it should be noted -- into the ground for a routine 6-4-3 double play.
From life to lifeless in one swing.