The Detroit Tigers overcame two rain delays and a sub-par Justin Verlander to outlast the Cleveland Indians 11-7, sweeping their short two-game series. The victory moves the Tigers to within 1/2 game of the first-place Indians in the AL Central.
Verlander (5-4) wasn't at his best, but managed to hang around for five innings, including coming back for the last two outs of the fifth after a 62-minute rain delay to earn the victory. Verlander allowed five runs and ten hits, striking out nine.
Tribe starter Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3) was charged with the loss, knocked around by Tigers' bats for six runs and seven hits in just four innings.
Backup catcher Brayan Pena led the Tigers' 14-hit attack with three hits and an RBI. Miguel Cabrera added two hits and three RBIs, including a two-run homer. Cabrera is near the top of the Triple Crown stats, leading the AL in batting average at .387, RBI at 52 and is second in home runs with 13, one behind Baltimore's Chris Davis.
The game took almost five-and-a-half hours, featuring two long rain delays, a wild Verlander and a weird Cabrera home run. That's Cleveland for you...
Facing Jimenez, the Tigers went right to work, taking an early first-inning lead.
Miguel Cabrera has been a machine with runners in scoring position. Tonight was no different; Cabrera doubled to left for his 50th RBI of the season as Dirks crossed the plate and Hunter advanced to third.
The shift nailed Prince Fielder, his line drive up the middle caught by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera behind second base. Victor Martinez would come through with a runner on third, sending a line drive to Ryan Raburn in right. A tagging Hunter beat the throw with a nifty slide when catcher Yan Gomes couldn't corral Raburn's two-hop throw.
Jimenez would hold the damage to two runs, striking out Jhonny Peralta to end the inning. The Indians were lucky to be down just 2-0, as every ball the Tigers hit was scalded.
The Tribe bounced right back in the bottom half of the first. Verlander struck out the first two Indians he faced. But a two-out rally commenced as home plate umpire Marty Foster's strike zone appeared to shrink, exacerbated by Verlander's command issues.
Asdrubal Cabrera doubled off the right-field wall (which wasn't played at all well by Hunter, who stopped short of the fence on what looked to have been a catchable ball). He would score when Michael Brantley's ground ball up the middle hit the edge of the infield grass, skidding into center past Omar Infante (who was expecting a big hop) for an RBI single, cutting the Tigers' lead to 2-1.
Verlander would allow a single to Carlos Santana before Jason Giambi hit a come-backer to end the rally.
It was more of the same for Verlander in the second inning.
Mark Reynolds started the inning with an infield single, beating Peralta's throw from deep in the hole. Raburn followed by lifting a warning track fly to deep right, Hunter not tracking the ball well at all. The fly would hit the heel of Hunter's glove, then drop to the turf. An insane official scorer called it a single. Go figure.
Dirks showed Hunter how it's done, robbing Gomes of an extra-base hit with a fine running catch. Verlander got a ground ball of the bat of Michael Bourn, but his two-hopper found the hole in the right side for an RBI single, tying the game at 2-all.
Struggling once again with location, Verlander needed 11 pitches to strike out Jason Kipnis. Bourn stole second on the K to give the Indians runners on second and third with two out for Cabrera. Verlander's pitch count for the inning now over 30, he would walk Cabrera to load the bases for Brantley (with his over .400 career BA against Verlander).
The Tribe would leave the bases juiced and the score tied at 2-2, Brantley bouncing into a 5-4 fielder's choice. Verlander escaped, but needed 36 pitches to do so, 59 for the game.
There would be no replay of Max Scherzer's performance tonight. It's obvious Verlander isn't sharp, but his first two innings would not have been so high-leverage if Hunter hadn't forgotten to play the outfield.
The hit parade continued in the next half-inning, the Tigers retaking the lead in the top of the third.
One out, Jimenez walked Hunter, then issued an unintentional intentional walk to Cabrera. Fielder made the Tribe pay, drilling a ground rule double to left, Hunter crossing the plate. Martinez came through with his second sacrifice fly of the night, Cabrera jogging home, the Tigers up 4-2.
Peralta extended the Tigers' lead by lashing a double to the opposite field to plate Fielder, the lead now 5-2. Brayan Pena turned on a 3-1 fastball, yanking an RBI double into the right-field corner to push the lead to 6-2.
Jimenez struggling just as much as Verlander, he walked Don Kelly and went to 3-0 on Infante before bouncing him out to end the frame. The Tigers sent nine to the plate, garnering three doubles, three walks, and a sacrifice fly over Jimenez's 32 pitches.
Whatever Verlander and pitching coach Jeff Jones talked about during the Tigers' lengthy turn at bat, it worked. Bottom of the third, Verlander needed just 13 pitches to retire the Indians in order.
Jimenez pitched himself into, then out of, more trouble in the fourth. Hunter nearly killed Reynolds at third base with a one-out line shot single to right. After Cabrera shockingly whiffed on three pitches, Jimenez plunked Fielder on the bicep, moving Hunter into scoring position. But Martinez struck out, extinguishing the mini-threat. At the very least, the Tigers had extended Jimenez's pitch count to 96.
Verlander struck out the side the fourth, but didn't have a 1-2-3 inning. The human element screwed up again. Yan Gomes was called safe at first on what should have been a great play by Jhonny Peralta going deep into the hole at short. Replays confirmed first base umpire Scott Barry blew the call. But a much more composed Verlander pitched around it, striking out Kipnis for his seventh K of the night.
Jimenez was given the hook by Terry Francona after four innings. Lefty David Huff started the fifth, and found just as much trouble as Jimenez.
Peralta, Pena, Kelly (after failing to drop a bunt) and Infante would open the fifth inning with back-to-back-to back-to-back singles. Kelly's and Infante's RBI knocks made it an 8-2 game.
Then came an old school theft of home. YES, DON KELLY STOLE HOME. That he wasn't credited with a steal was a mere technicality.
With one down, Infante was thrown out at second trying to steal. As soon as Gomes fired to second, Kelly took off for home, scoring without a throw. It wasn't scored a steal of home because Infante was thrown out, making it a fielder's choice, Kelly scoring on the throw to second.
The Tigers up 9-2, the bad Verlander returned as the rain started to fall
Cabrera led off with a double, Brantley followed with an RBI single. Santana then crushed a two-run homer to deep-right center to make it a 9-5 game. For a few innings Verlander seemed to have fixed what had ailed him. Alas, he was broken again.
After Verlander struck out Jason Giambi, a monsoon struck. The game was stopped two outs from being official.
Despite the hue and outcry from the fan base and questions from the media, after a 62-minute rain delay, Verlander (?!?!) was back on the mound. The rain delay be damned, needing two outs to qualify for a win, Verlander had sweet talked (or knowing his competitive nature, threatened) his way back onto the mound.
There was no harm, no foul, even if the risk wasn't worth the result. Verlander got the final two outs of the fifth to end a very long, very odd, and another very un-Verlander-like night.
Smyly took over for Verlander in the sixth, given the task of holding a
9-5 ...uh, 9-6 lead. The first batter Smyly faced went yard. First pitch swinging, Gomes hit his fifth home run of the season to cut what was once a seven-run lead to three.
Make it a two-run game. Mike Aviles doubled with two down. He would score when Brantley singled for the third time and Dirks throw was far off-line, the score an now uncomfortably tight 9-7.
Two on and two out, Giambi smoked a one-hopper down the first base line. But Fielder, playing on the line to prevent a double, made a nice play to bail out a struggling Smyly. (After the fact, Jim Leyland said Fielder's grab was the "play that saved the game.")
Two down and Pena on base in the seventh, Bourn robbed Infante of extra bases and an RBI with a nice running catch in deep left center, holding on as he hit the wall. Thankfully, that lost run would not come back to bite the Tigers.
Newly recalled Luke Putkonen took over for Smyly in the bottom of the seventh as more rain started to fall. Putkonen was far more effective, tossing a 1-2-3 inning with a pair of strikeouts.
With a full seven innings complete and the Tigers up 9-7, the tarp returned as the rain resumed with a vengeance. At this point, the game would be official.
But the latest rain cell passed, the game restarting at 11:50 PM.
Dirks led off the eighth with a single and would ride home on Cabrera's 13th home run of the season. The fact Cabrera homered wasn't surprising. How it went over the well, on the other hand, was.
Cabrera hit a fly ball to deep center, Bourn catching up with it at the warning track. His back to the fence, Bourn got his glove on the ball. But it popped out of his glove, bouncing up and over the fence for a bizarre two-run home run. The "excuse me" dinger extended the Tigers' lead to 11-7.
Joaquin Benoit tossed a scoreless eighth inning, setting the table for everyone's favorite closer to pitch in a non-save situation. Well after midnight, bottom of nine, it was time for the Potato-coaster.
Thankfully, there was little drama from Papa Grande tonight. Jose Valverde retired the Indians in order to lock down an 11-7 win.
A wet, wild and weird GAME OVER.
The 25-19 Tigers sweep the 26-19 Indians to move to within 1/2 game of first place. The Tigers end their road trip at .500, 3-3. I'll take it.
The Tigers begin a six-game home stand on Thursday, four with the Twins and two with the Pirates. In game one against the Twins Scott Diamond (3-4, 4.99 ERA) takes the mound. He'll face the the only Tigers starter to have pitched well in Texas, Rick Porcello (2-2, 5.92 ERA). First pitch is 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
One of the faces we've become accustomed to seeing on Tigers coverage is leaving FSD.
After 13 wonderful years in Detroit...I'm excited to announce I've accepted a position at @foxsports1 to help launch a new network.— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldFSD) May 22, 2013
It's an exciting opportunity to be a part of the sports scene at a national level, and I look forward to doing my best to represent Detroit.— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldFSD) May 22, 2013
All the best to Ryan and let's hope the new Fox Sports 1 gives a lazy ESPN some Hell.
I'm with Rogo. Jim Leyland is playing Don Kelly far, far too much.
Kelly starting again today. At this point, I assume Garcia was brought up in case Miggy ever needs a stunt double for something.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) May 22, 2013
A PSA from Rob:
The Indians are 20-4 when scoring first this year, but two of those losses are against the Tigers #themoreyouknow— Detroit4lyfe (@Detroit4lyfeRob) May 22, 2013
Miguel Cabrera has been ridiculously good with runners in scoring position. He gave the Tigers an early lead by driving home the Tigers' first run of the night.
That's also the 11th go-ahead hit Miguel Cabrera has had this season. Raises his AVG with RISP to .517 for season. #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) May 22, 2013
Justin Verlander needed 59 pitches to get through two innings. UGH.
@beckjason they will see a video of Hunter playing with his eyes closed.— James Regan (@thefulllamonty) May 23, 2013
After a lengthy second inning, Verlander disappeared into the clubhouse:
Verlander and Jeff Jones both headed into #Tigers clubhouse after that inning. The moratorium on looking at video might have just ended.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) May 23, 2013
What would Verlander and Jones see?
@beckjason they will see a video of Hunter playing with his eyes closed.— James Regan (@thefulllamonty) May 23, 2013
More proof baseball is a funny game. When is a steal of home not a steal of home?
Don Kelly too nice to steal home. Scores respectfully on throw to second base.— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) May 23, 2013
Bringing Verlander back out to the mound to finish the fifth after giving up three quick runs and a long rain delay did not go over well with the Twitter base. AT ALL.
They're not really gonna let Verlander try to finish the inning, are they?— Grey (@spacemnkymafia) May 23, 2013
The only reasons for Verlander to go back on the mound after nearly an hour long rain delay are really, really stupid ones— Paul Wezner (@TigsTown) May 23, 2013
Verlander threw 100 pitches, mostly high stress, in 2 very long innings. But, he's been so good, you have to get him back out there.— MattinToledo (@MattinToledo) May 23, 2013
I get Verlander probably wanted to get the bad taste out of his mouth after that horrible inning, but this can't be smart— Scott Warheit (@swarheit) May 23, 2013
In the post game, Jim Leyland said he stretched the limit for allowing Verlander to finish the fifth by about five minutes. In his words,
"I'm an hour guy."
Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. If the delay had gone another 10-15 minutes longer, Leyland stated would not have allowed Verlander to return to the mound.
Verlander survived the rain delay, getting the two outs he needed to qualify for a win. But the mascot race didn't.
BREAKING: No Hot Dog Derby at Progressive Field tonight. Conditions not safe. Track is still very slick from all of the rain.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) May 23, 2013
But it's safe enough for ball players who have multi-million dollar contracts. OK, then.
There was even a smaller crowd on hand tonight than yesterday's game in Cleveland, under 17,000. After the second rain delay, there couldn't have been more than a handful left in the stands. But they were vocal.
The drunk Indians fans still at the game think they're cussing out Kenny Lofton.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) May 23, 2013
Rod and Mario were saying they were worried about tomorrow's starter, Rick Porcello, getting enough sleep. HE'S 24 YEARS OLD. When you're that young, you get four hours in and you're fine.
After Cabrera went yard in the eighth, his RBI numbers were back on record pace.
Miguel Cabrera now has 52 RBIs through 44 games. Looks like 2nd-most RBIs through 44 games for DET hitter since 1916 (Greenberg, 55, 1937).— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 23, 2013
The delays sure tuckered out Jim Leyland...
#Tigers Leyland after long game with delays: "I'm usually taking my Geritol by now"— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) May 23, 2013
A sweep of the Tribe was the perfect tonic to losing 3-of-4 to the Rangers. You weren't panicking after that series, were you?
Our fine readers were never near the edge of the cliff to begin with. I hope some others have stepped back— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 23, 2013
It's a long season. It's only May. The Tigers are six over .500. They are in fine shape.
Jhonny Peralta: The shortstop with the highest WAR in the AL had another solid game: two hits, two runs and an RBI.
Brayan Pena: Continues to make a case for more playing time with a 3-for-4 night, an RBI and run scored.
Miguel Cabrera: Another three RBIs have him back on an MLB-record pace.
Putkonen - Benoit - Valverde: Combined to retired the last nine Tribe batters in order.
Justin Verlander: Third straight sub-par game for the Tigers ace, 5 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR. Was his dominant self in the third, fourth and the portion of the fifth occurring after the rain delay. Otherwise, UGH.
Drew Smyly: Allowing your first home run of the season was bad enough. But doing so on the first pitch coming out of a rain delay was not good. Allowing a second run was unacceptable.
Drum Guy in the bleachers: MOST ANNOYING GOD DAMN NOISE EVER. The constant drumming was worse as the night went on and the stadium emptied, THUMP-THUMP-THUMP echoing over the FSD broadcast.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|7||aelix||Calling it now...|
|6||Rob Rogacki||I've figured it out|
|6||Dale S||This game is the GIF|
|4||HookSlide||Credit Rain with both the win and the save|
Max Scherzer, who retired the last 22 Indians he faced in a 5-1 victory, received an overwhelming and well deserved 96% of the vote.