Rays 3, Tigers 1: Beyond meek offense dooms Rick Porcello, Tigers fall into first place tie in Central

USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers pitched well enough to win. They just didn't hit enough in losing to the Rays.

Five Tampa Bay Rays pitchers shut down the Detroit Tigers offense, allowing just one run while scattering seven hits in a 3-1 victory. The loss drops the Tigers into a first place tie in the Central with the Cleveland Indians. As for the possible bean ball war, both teams were warned after Rick Porcello hit Ben Zobrist in the first inning. The Rays didn't retaliate, victory being the best revenge.

Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson (7-3) was the winning pitcher, allowing just one run and six hits over six innings. Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless ninth for his 17th save. Four Rays relievers combined to hold the Tigers to just one hit over the final three innings, their late game offense struggles becoming a major problem.

Porcello (4-6) posted a quality start, giving up three runs and eight hits in six innings of works, but a lack of run support doomed him to be the losing pitcher.

The lone highlight for the Tigers on offense was Miguel Cabrera's solo home run in the fourth. Omar Infante added a pair of hits. The Tigers couldn't stop Jose Lobaton, who led the way with three singles and two RBI. Luke Scott added two hits for the winners.

The Tigers got their pound of flesh for Miguel Cbarera getting buzzed on Saturday night by hitting Zobrist. Unfortunately, they couldn't hit many pitched balls, leading to another loss and a first place tie in the division.

After retiring the first two Rays on easy ground balls, Porcello finally retaliates for Fernando Rodney's buzzing Miguel Cabrera's head Saturday night. His first pitch to Ben Zobrist is a high, inside fastball which drilled him the bicep (I would have to believe Porcello was aiming at Zobrist's ribs, and the pitch got away from him). Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza immediately took control of the situation by bolting out from behind the plate to issue warnings to both benches as Zobrist shot Porcello a nasty look.

Click the pic for GIF goodness:

Porcellozobrist_medium
Via @CorkGaines

Zobrist then tried a revenge steal of second, only to be nailed on a perfect throw by Bryan Holaday. That ended the inning, and hopefully the war of inside fastballs.

Bottom of two, Loney continued to hurt the Tigers. He crossed up the defense by going the opposite way, slapping a ground ball down the left field line, beating Andy Dirk's throw for a lead off double. Loney didn't hit it hard, but he hit it where they ain't.

Porcello looked to have gotten squeezed, appearing to have struck out Johnson on a 3-2 inside breaking ball which painted the black (Mario Impemba was stunned: "Where was that?"), but he didn't get the expected inning ending punch out.

Strikethreejohnson_medium

Carapazza deemed it ball four, which ended up costing the Tigers a run. The next batter, Jose Lobaton, bounced a ground ball through the left side for a two out RBI single and a 1-0 Rays lead.

Carapazza's weird strike zone cost the Tigers another run in the third. Ramon Santiago took a shin high 3-2 fastball and headed toward first, only to receive a very late punch out from Carpazza.

Strikethree_medium

Of course, Holaday followed up the strikeout by doubling into the left center gap, Santiago would have likely scored on the play. The Tigers went belly up from there, Jackson and Torii Hunter stranding the Tigers' catcher at second.

Cabrera finally got his Rays revenge leading off the top of the fourth. Hellickson hung a first pitch breaking ball which Cabrera used as food for the rays swimming in the giant Rays Tank in center field, his long fly ball splashing down for a game tying solo home run. (MLB.com video) It was big fly number 25 and RBI number 82 for the AL's leading hitter.

With one down, Martinez singled and Dirks walked. But the Tigers couldn't do any more damage against the slowly paced Hellickson. Omar Infante bounced into a fielder's choice, Hellickson nailing the lead runner at third for the second out. Santiago ended the inning with a pop fly to left. After 3 1/2 innings, the Tigers and Rays were knotted at 1-all.

Porcello proceeded to give the run (and then some) right right back.

He retired the troublesome Loney, then Porcello surrendered four consecutive singles to uber-rookie Wil Meyers, Tiger Killer Luke Scott, Johnson and the second RBI single of the game for Lobaton. The bases still loaded, Porcello went to a full count on light-hitting Yunel Escobar before walking in the second run of the inning. At this point, Porcellom was on thin ice, Darin Downs warming up in the bullpen.

The Tigers then received a break. Matt Joyce hit a ball right on the screws, but the resulting line shot was directly at Fielder. The big man made the grab, then beat Escobar back to the bag for an inning ending double play. The Rays had left the bases loaded, but had retaken the lead at 3-1.

The Tigers countered the Rays two run rally ... by going down 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth. Porcello bounced back from his rough fourth to retire the Rays in order in the bottom half of the inning.

Talk about working counts, the Tigers went down in order in the sixth on count 'em, four freaking pitches. FOUR. Making it even worse it was the middle of the order showing no plate discipline - Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez. A brutal half inning.

In what was the last inning for Porcello not matter what, the Rays put a runner in scoring position with two out int he sixth. The Tiger Killer, Scott, reached on a one out infield single. Porcello was unable to retire Lobaton, who singled for the third consecutive at bat with two down. On the verge of getting yanked, Porcello ended the inning on his own terms, Escobar bouncing out 5-3.

Porcello ended up with a quality start, but was it really? He was OK, at best. Six innings, three runs, eight hits, two walks, three K, 101 pitches. Quality start semantics or not, I'm not going to complain when your fifth starter allows three runs over six innings. If this were a Brad Penny start, we would be shooting off fireworks. Being it's Porcello, we just argue if he's lucky or not. Porcello's start would have looked much better if he had gotten more than one run of support.

"Runs have been a problem for us." -Jim Leyland stating the obvious

Dirks led off the seventh by necking a looping double into the left field corner. Infante bounced a single past a diving Escobar, but Dirks got a late start waiting to see if the ball left the infield, holding up at third. Jhonny Peralta was called on to pinch hit for Santiago, drawing a walk to load the bases with no one out.

Joe Maddon and his horn rims had seen enough. He pulled hos starter, calling on hard throwing lefty Jake McGee to bail out the Rays. McGee got the first out, Holaday sending a can of corn to shallow right, nowhere deep enough for Dirks to tag up.

It would up to the top of the order to avoid a huge squander. Jackson couldn't come through, bouncing into a 5-2 fielder's choice for the second out, Johnson forcing Dirks at the plate. Hunter ended the inning with a fly ball to center, McGee doing a wonderful job of getting out of a bases loaded jam. The Tigers, on the other hand, showed why they are the worst team in baseball after the seventh inning, frustratingly awful on offense.

Phil Coke got the call from Leyland to pitch the bottom of the seventh. The first right-hand bat he faced, Desmond Jennings, laced a one out double to left center. Zobrist bounced to short, moving Jennings to third, making Coke 1-for-2 against right-handers. Back in his comfort zone facing a left-hander, Coke stranded the runner when Loney weakly bounced out to short.

Kyle Farnsworth started the eighth for the Rays, to be greeted by a Cabrera line drive ...right at the third baseman, Johnson. The loud out was the only one Farnsworth would be asked to get, Maddon calling on Joel Peralta. Peralta did his job, ending the inning with no drama. He struck out Fielder, Martinez grounding out to short.

Down 3-1, Bruce Rondon was asked to keep the Tigers within shouting distance, also looking to get a little redemption, taking over for the Tigers in the bottom of the eighth. That's also Leyland's M.O., getting a player immediately back on the horse after getting bucked off, as Rondon was on Saturday night. It worked, Rondon tossing an easy 1-2-3 inning, needing only 11 pitched, eight for strikes.That's the Rondon we expected to see.

"I just wish he wouldn't cry so much." -Joe Maddon calling out Miguel Cabrera

So it would be up the Tigers' pop gun late inning offense to avoid both a loss and retain their sole lead in the AL Central. They would have to do so against he of the crooked cap and Magic Plantain, ex-Tiger Fernando Rodney.

Dirks led off, striking out after getting ahead in the count 3-0. Infante turned on a Rodney change up, ripping a double down the left field line. The Tigers had life, the tying run would be at the plate in Peralta. On the down side, Peralta was a career 1-for-21 against Rodney. Once again, Rodney fell behind in the count, this time 3-1, before striking out Peralta swinging on a 3-2 pitch well out of the zone.

It was down to Brayan Pena, pinch hitting for Holaday. A popup to short ended the inning, the game and the series.

Your final score is Rays 3, Tigers 1, and Tigers fans on the verge of getting fed up with an extremely inconsistent team.

Tigers pitching allowed nine runs in the three games series, only winning one of them. The offense came up woefully short, scoring just four runs in the last two games of the series. Cabrera and Fielder combining for three homers on Friday night were the only real signs of life from the offense all weekend.

The Tigers have lost four of five, dropping their record to 43-37. The Tribe has won five of six, beating up on the woeful White Sox, raising their record to 44-38. On June 11, the Tigers had a 5 1/2 game lead in the Central. Since then, they have gone 7-10, and are tied with the Indians for first place in the Central.

But keep in mind there are 82 games left to play and the Tigers have yet to get their shot at the White Sox.

Given softball questions by FSD's Trevor Thompson in the post game, Leyland gave cliche answers in return. Then again, I wouldn't expect him to throw anyone under the bus. For that matter, I don't expect anyone employed by FSD to agitate the skipper.

"Runs have been a problem for us."

"We're just not swinging the bats good."

Enlightening stuff, huh?

In regard to Porcello's purpose pitch:

"It's part of baseball, guys get hit in baseball games."

Apparantly, the Rays aren't shrugging it off as guys getting hit.

Mlive's Chris Iott has Maddon's money quote on Cabrera:

"I just wish he wouldn't cry so much."

Revenge will have to wait until 2014.

Game four of the Tigers' 11 game game trip across North America takes them to Maple Leaf country. The Tigers begin a four game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Canada Day. Coming off the first loss of the season, rookie lefty Jose Alvarez (1-1, 3.78 ERA) makes his fourth career start. The Jays counter with last year's NL Cy Young, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (7-8, 4.72 ERA). Dickey has been battling command of his knuckler for most of 2013, but his last start was the best of the season, a complete game shutout of the Rays. Being Monday is a national holiday in Canada, the first pitch is an early one, 1:07 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

In the first inning, Miguel Cabrera received a very chilly reception from Rays fans still upset over the Fernando Rodney high and tight fireworks of Saturday night. Cabrera made a bid to quiet the boo birds, absolutely smoking a one hop rocket toward third. But Kelly Johnson made a marvelous play to rob Cabrera of a base hit and start an inning ending double play.

The entire world saw Rick Porcello's purpose pitch coming:

Kevin Youkilis nods his head in agreement.

Meanwhile, two innings later in the Tigers' radio booth:

Rogo is in favor of education!

The milestones keep coming for Cabrera. June will be his tenth straight month with a .295 plus average and 20 plus RBIs. This month Cabrera is currently at .385/21. Cabrera also became only the second player to ever reach the Tropicana Field fish tank, the other being Luis Gonzalez in 2007.

Kerplunk_medium

The Mario Impemba quote of the day is also the pun of the day:

"Cabrera goes fishing!"

Jeremy Hellickson needed all of four pitches to set the Tigers down in order in the sixth. This was my reaction as well:

The Tigers could not convert on a bases loaded with no one out situation in the seventh. Another late game offensive fail is becoming far too familiar.

Even some of the diehards are getting fed up with this team to the point of needing to take a break for their own mental health.

Knowing Rogo and Cath, I'm sure it's just frustration talking, but it says volumes about the current state of the Tigers.

WORD:

Want to point fingers? Point them at the offense.

At least one of our BYB editorial staff is enjoying their weekend:

THREE ROARS:

Rick Porcello: I'll take three runs over six innings from the number five starter and run with it.

Bruce Rondon: Bounced back from a disastrous Saturday night with with a 1-2-3 eighth. More of that, please.

Miguel Cabrera: A home run gives him a semblance of revenge over the Rays. I'm sure Cabrera would have preferred a victory.

THREE HISSES:

The Tigers' offense: The bats are suddenly looking like a bigger problem than the bullpen, scoring in just two of their last 19 innings against the Rays. I'm at a complete loss as to why the bats turn to wet noodles from the seventh inning on.

The top of the order: Why did the Tigers lose? Jackson, Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder combined to go 2-for-16.

Ramon Santiago: Going hitless in two at bats dropped Santiago's average to an unseemly .151.

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 747
Total commenters 37
Commenter list Alex McHale, AwesomeJackson, BadCompany22, BigAl, C5wynn, Cabbylander, DJ Screw, Dave Hogg, House by the Side of the Road, JWurm, Jacob30, Joaquin on Sunshine, MSUDersh, Matthew Malek, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, NCDee, RedWingedLigerFan, RewertsSpartan, SAchris, SabreRoseTiger, SanDiegoMick, Scarsdale_Vibe, ShowingBunt, Singledigit, SpartanHT, Sutelc, TheLegacyofJordanTata, Tigerdog1, Verlanderful, dishnet34, dominator039, frisbeepilot, knucklescarbone, lesmanalim, mrsunshine, redwingxviii, stevenyc
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/6/30/4479492/game-80-tigers-at-rays-1-40-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/6/30/4480256/game-80-overflow-tigers-at-rays

TOP TEN 11 COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 SanDiegoMick 121
2 SabreRoseTiger 98
3 JWurm 59
4 frisbeepilot 59
5 Jacob30 40
6 NCDee 40
7 SpartanHT 40
8 BadCompany22 36
9 Cabbylander 32
10 Verlanderful 27
11 Scarsdale_Vibe 27

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
2 Verlanderful Prince be nimble, Prince be quick
1 frisbeepilot Good news, everybody!
1 frisbeepilot Malek!
1 Singledigit Good possible example of the Tigers being over-anxious in the late innings
1 Tigerdog1 I'd be okay with Coke getting suspended
1 BadCompany22 False
1 BadCompany22 The wand chooses the wizard
1 Verlanderful Trivia too easy
1 Jacob30 So...Sheffield?

GAME 79 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Justin Verlander's longest stint of the season, allowing just two earned runs over eight innings, made the Tigers' ace the BYB PotG with 41% of the vote.

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