Tigers 6, Astros 2: Bottom of order leads come from behind victory

Duane Burleson

The Tigers would rally from an early deficit, roaring back with six unanswered runs to pull away from the Astros for a second straight night.

After falling behind 2-0, the Detroit Tigers scored six unanswered runs in the fifth through seventh innings to beat the Houston Astros going away, 6-2. It was the Tigers' sixth straight victory this season over the woebegone Astros.

Bouncing back from his worst start of the season (five runs in three innings losing to the Nationals) winning pitcher Doug Fister (5-1) allowed just two runs over seven innings, allowing five hits while striking out seven.

Lucas Harrell took the loss, tagged for five runs and seven hits over five innings. In his two losses against the Tigers this season, Harrell has allowed 17 hits and 13 runs in 9 1/3 innings.

Miguel Cabrera led the Tigers' ten hit attack with a double, his eighth home run and MLB leading 41st RBI. Victor Martinez also had a pair of hits, driving in one. The Tigers bottom three hitters started the comeback when down 2-0, combining for four hits, two RBI and two runs.

J.D. Martinez had two of the Astros' five hits, with a pair of doubles and an RBI.

The first threat from either team came in the top of the second, the Astros taking a lead before Fister could get an out.

Chris Carter singled to center, Carlos Pena beat the shift accidentally, his pop up dropping in shallow left. Fister could not get a third strike past Martinez, who would bounce a double just inside third base on the 11th pitch of the bat to drive in the Astros' first run.

Runners on second and third after the extra base hit, Jimmy Paredes' sacrifice fly advanced both runners, the Astros up 2-0.

A pitcher's duel ensued (somewhat surprising, considering the Tigers hang an an eight spot on Harrell on the road trip) for the next few innings. The Astros were unable to do much with Fister (shown by a six pitch fourth), while the only Tigers to reach against Harrell were Torii Hunter (infield single in the first) and Cabrera (fourth inning walk). Both were eliminated on double plays.

It took until there were two down in the bottom of the fifth for the Tigers to get a base which left the infield off Harrell, but it would lead to their taking the lead. You can thank the bottom of the order.

Omar Infante started the rally with a line single to right. He would proceed to steal second, which proved huge when Don Kelly's soft looper to left dropped for an RBI single.

Ramon Santiago made a diving catch in the top half of the inning. As always seems to happen, the player who made a nice defensive play would bat in the following half inning. Santiago's best inning in months continued when he doubled into the left center field gap to plate Kelly, tying the game at 2-all.

Andy Dirks showed off more of the power he flashed last night, capping the three run rally when his fly ball to Death Valley in right center bounced over the scoreboard in for an RBI ground rule double. (MLB.com video) Santiago crossed the plate to give the Tigers their first lead of the night.

The Tigers had strung together four straight two out base hits to take a 3-2 lead going into the sixth inning.

Meanwhile, Fister was rolling. He had retired 11 consecutive Astros through six, needing only 27 pitches to retire the last nine he faced.

The slumbering heart of the Tigers' order woke up in the bottom of half of the inning, extending their lead. Cabrera led off with a line drive double to left center. Prince Fielder drew a base on balls. Martinez drove home Cabrera when his ground ball found the hole in the right side, the Tigers now up 4-2.

Astros skipper Bo Porter yanked Harrell for lefty Travis Blackley. His wild pitch with Infate at the plate allowed Fielder to rumble home with the Tigers' fifth run.

Harrell exacerbated the situation by walking Infante, then wild pitching the runners into scoring position.

The infield was pulled in as Avisail Garcia was making his first appearance of the season, pinch hitting for Donnie Baseball. His would bounce out to short, runners forced to hold. But Santiago could not recreate the RBI magic, striking out on a pitch in the dirt to strand the runners and bail out Blackley.

But the Tigers had tacked on a pair of runs on two hits and a wild pitch, taking what would be an insurmountable 5-2 lead.

GAME (essentially) OVER.

Having retired 16-of-17 and 12 in a row, Fister finally allowed a base runner on his 100th pitch. Martinez hit his second double of the night with one out in the seventh. Fister would bear down and ultimately strike out the side to end both the inning and his evening, receiving the "Handshake of doom" from Jim Leyland.

Doing his best to Potato-proof the game, Cabrera hit a long home run off Hector Ambriz Bears repeating, it was a LOOOOONG home run. Cabrera crushed an Anbriz slider, nearly clearing the first level of seats in left field, his eighth home run pushing the Tigers' lead to to what would be the final score, 6-2.

Joaquin Benoit took over for Fister, tossing a 1-2-3 eighth, keeping the Tigers' ;lead at four runs. This set up Jose Valverde to pitch in the dreaded "non-save situation."

Turned out there was nothing to dread, the Astros having rolled over and played dead.

Papa Grande broke out the split-finger, striking out two while retiring the Astros in order to nail down the win.

GAME (officially) OVER. The Tigers win their second straight, the final score 6-2.

Gotta love the Astros.

The first place Tigers raise their record to 22-15 with the win, taking a 1 1/2 game lead over the second place Indians in the Central. The struggling, last place Astros fall to to 10-30. They have lost six straight, falling 13 games out in the West.

The Tigers go for a sweep in the seriies finale Wednesday afternoon. The Astros send former reliever Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 4.43 ERA) to the mound to make his second start of the season. Looking for his sixth straight win to start 2013, Max Scherzer (5-0, 3.61 ERA) gets the starting nod for the Tigers. First pitch for game three is scheduled for 1:08 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

NEVER FORGET THUNDERCLAP.

By the way, Quentin Berry is hitting .185/.297/.252 in 33 games with the Mud Hens. He should be nowhere near Detroit, despite what some of the Tigers' fan base believes.

Doug Fister leads MLB in batters hit by pitch with ten. He nearly had number 11 when brushed back (or had a pitch get away from him, but let's give Fister the benefit of the doubt) Jason Castro in the first inning. HBP has become a "thing" with Fister.

Needing just 14 pitches to retire the Astros in the first inning, Fister's pitch count rocketed up in the second, taking 28 (!!!) pitches to record the first out. Fister finally ended the inning after tossing 33 pitches. Thanks to a far more efficient fourth and fifth, Fister's pitch count was a more reasonable 79 through five, allowing him to pitch deep into the game.

Lucas Harrell was rolling through the Tigers' batting order, setting down 12 of the first 14 he faced. But he could only retire one of the next eight Tigers, allowing five runs, before being pulled from the game. A good game turned ugly in the blink of an eye.

Miguel Cabrera was in a mini-slump, having gone 0-for-7 and snapping an 11 game hitting streak last night. The mini-slump ended when he doubling in the sixth. The mini-slump was deemed officially over when Cabrera went yard in the seventh.

Ramon Santiago's double in the fifth gave him his first RBI in almost 10 months. His last RBI in anger? June 25, 2012.

Prince Fielder had an adventurous trip around the bases in the sixth. Unfortunately, FSD never showed us a replay. We have to go by witness testimony.

The (sarcastic) moans were palpable when Avisail Garcia pinch hit for Don Kelly in the sixth.

There was a sighting of Jose Valverde's long missing split-finger in the ninth inning, striking out both Cris Cater and Carlos Pena looking with it. About damn time, the splitter makes the Big Potato a far more effective pitcher than the one who throws nothing but fastballs, then prays it doesn't get hit hard.

In the season series (six games so far), the Tigers have outscored the Astros 50-12. Run differential FTW.

The game well in hand for the Tigers, the discussion turned to just how bad the Astros are, in a historical context.

My money is on the Astos not threatening the 2003 Tigers or 1962 Mets. You really have to work hard at being that bad.

Jim Leyland, master of the understatement:

"Doug's a good pitcher."

The skipper also loves it when the role players come thru, specifically mentioning the RBI hits off the bats of Kelly and Santiago.

"That kind of stuff really makes me happy!"

Word of warning. Expect a Sunday lineup tomorrow afternoon.

THREE ROARS:

Doug Fister: Seven innings, two runs, quality start. After looking somewhat off in the first two innings, Fister was outright dominant over the final five, retiring 18 of the last 20 Astros he faced.

Miguel Cabrera: Typical Miggy night. Two hits, a tape measure home run and his lead leading 41st RBI.

Bottom of the order: Omar Infante, Ramon Santiago and Don Kelly combined to go 4-for-9 with two runs scored and two RBI, breaking the hold Lucas Harrell had over the Tigers in the early innings.

BONUS ROARS:

The bullpen: Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde combined for two innings, no hits and four strikeouts. Even better, Potato's splitter showed up.

ONE HISS:

Alex Avila: It's becoming far too commonplace giving Avila a hiss after another hitless performance.

GAME THREAD ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 317
Total commenters 34
Commenter list Alex Baker, Allison Hagen, BadCompany22, BigAl, Chadster, Dave Hogg, Grand Rapids Howie, Grzesio, J_the_Man, Jacob30, Joaquin on Sunshine, Keith-Allen, Kurt Mensching, Kwisatz Haderach, NCDee, RationalSportsFan, Rob Rogacki, SabreRoseTiger, SanDiegoMick, Singledigit, SpartanHT, TheLegacyofJordanTata, Verlanderful, aelix, ahtrap, brunokm, dishnet34, frisbeepilot, kirdo, knucklescarbone, rock n rye, stevenyc, thanantos, tommyhaynes
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/5/14/4329904/game-37-astros-at-tigers-7-08-p-m


TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 SpartanHT 52
2 rock n rye 37
3 Verlanderful 25
4 Rob Rogacki 21
5 Alex Baker 21
6 Keith-Allen 17
7 stevenyc 14
8 NCDee 14
9 SanDiegoMick 13


TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
2 rock n rye RIP IN PEACE BUTTONS THE WONDER HAMSTER
1 SpartanHT YEAH
1 NCDee Tigers 6, Astros 2, SBNation - 25
1 Verlanderful Expand your mind
1 Grand Rapids Howie If Kelly keeps hitting like that,


GAME 36 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Andy Dirks dominated the voting just as he did Astros' pitching, taking PotG with 88% of the vote.

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