Making his first start at Comerica Park since losing a no-hitter in the ninth inning, Anibal Sanchez was nearly as good in his return home. Sanchez dominated the Rays, allowing just one run and four hits over seven innings, striking out nine while walking just one.
Moore (8-1) came into tonight's game with an 8-0 record and 2.18 ERA. He left the game bound for his first loss with an ERA of 2.95 after two-plus innings, the shortest start (that wasn't due to weather) of his career. The six runs the Tigers scored off Moore were the most he's allowed in a game this season.
The lone Rays run came off the bat of Desmond Jennings, a sacrifice fly in the second. The Rays never had another runner reach second after Matt Joyce's third-inning double.
The Tigers pounded five Rays pitchers for 15 hits, seven more reaching via walks. Prince Fielder led the hit parade with three hits, a home run, and four RBIs. Omar Infante also homered, while Jhonny Peralta chipped in three hits, raising his average to a robust .338.
Miguel Cabrera and Fielder made Moore work in the first, leading to a 30-pitch inning for the Rays starter. After getting two quick outs, Cabrera and Fielder both had long at-bats which resulted in singles. But all those pitches went for naught. Victor Martinez couldn't come through with a two-out base hit, flying out to strand the runners.
Evan Longoria led off the second with a long drive to Death Valley in right center. Torii Hunter went for the all-or-nothing circus catch, and got nothing. Longoria's drive would land against the scoreboard, good for a stand-up triple. Jennings' one-out sacrifice fly to center gave the Rays a 1-0 advantage.
And that would be that for the Rays' scoring on the night.
The Tigers made Moore work even harder in the bottom half of the second, and would actually have some runs to show for it.
Just as news was breaking in regard to possible suspensions over the Biogenesis PED scandal (which Jhonny Peralta is tangentially involved, his name was found in Biogenesis documents - Get well soon, Danny Worth!) Peralta led off with a looping single to left center.
All Matt Tuiasosopo does when he plays (which isn't enough) is hit the damn ball. He hit the damn ball again, quickly tying the game with a long RBI double to right center (MLB.com video). Brayan Pena followed with the proverbial productive out with a ground ball to the right side which moved Tuiasosopo to third. The Tigers still working over Moore on pitch count, Avisail Garcia walked.
Tuiasosopo would cross the plate on Infante's sacrifice fly to right, the Tigers now up 2-1. We also got to see Garcia's impressive speed as he tagged up on Infante's fly ball, advancing to second.
Moore dug the hole he was already in that much deeper by walking Hunter, then unintentionally intentionally walking Cabrera to lead the bases.
All Fielder does after a Cabrera free pass is hit the damn ball. He hit the damn ball again, coming through with a huge two-out RBI hit. His single to center drove in a pair of runs to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead.
Moore would finally get out of trouble when Martinez, the ninth Tiger to bat, bounced out. But the Tigers had batted around, collecting four runs on three hits and two walks.
To allow a run after his offense has given him a lead is a Cardinal Sin for a pitcher. Sanchez remained in the good graces of the Baseball Gods by tossing a scoreless top of the third. The ex-Tiger, Joyce, did have a two-out double, but Ben Zobrist hit a come-backer to Sanchez to end the threat.
The Tigers would knock Moore out of the game in the bottom of the third. Actually, Moore would do plenty on his own to earn the hook. He would fight with, and ultimately lose to, his command.
The smoking-hot Peralta led off for the second straight inning, and reached for the second straight inning by doubling to left. Tuiasosopo didn't get a hit, but did the next best thing by drawing a walk. Pena followed with a walk of his own, loading the bases.
Garcia made it a 5-1 game with an RBI single to shallow center, the bases remaining loaded. Moore would then walk the fifth Tiger in nine batters (and sixth overall), Infante driving in a run with a free pass.
The bases juiced, no one out and the score 6-1 Tigers, Joe Maddon had no choice other than to pull Moore. Lefty Alex Torres got the call to try an extinguish the rally. Torres would do just that. Hunter bounced into a 5-2 force at the plate, Cabrera and Fielder striking out. But the bottom of the order had come through, the Tigers riding two hits and three walks to a five-run lead.
As for Sanchez? He was, as the kids like to say, dealing. Sanchez had allowed just one run and three hits, striking out seven through five full innings.
Another ex-Tiger made an appearance in the bottom half of the fifth. A not so fondly remembered ex-Tiger, actually. Kyle Farnsworth took over for Torres, who had retired all six Tigers he faced.
Farnsworth made it eight outs in a row, the first two Tigers going down. But Infante greeted his fellow 2005 Tigers roster alumnus by sending his fastball on a line into the bullpen. The solo home run, Infante's fourth of the season, pushed the Tigers lead to 7-1.
Cabrera sent an annoyed-looking Farnsworth to the showers with a lead-off single in the bottom of the sixth. Then followed one of the more bizarre sights you'll ever see -- Cabrera racing from first to third on a wild pitch. That's not a typo, Cabrera went first to third on a wild pitch. The Rays should be ashamed.
Cesar Ramos facing Fielder, the lefty reliever uncorked a wild pitch which bounced high over the head of catcher Jose Molina. Molina will never be known as fleet of foot, he's slug slow. But he was even slower tracking down the wild pitch at the backstop, taking his good old time finding the runaway baseball. Meanwhile, Cabrera just never stopped running, easily beating Molina's belated throw to third.
Fielder made the Rays pay for their nonchalance, sending a sacrifice fly to center to increase the Tigers' lead to 8-1.
Sanchez cruised through the seventh with a 1-2-3 inning, his pitch count at a very manageable 102. Which meant he was going to be pulled, replaced by Luke Putkonen to start the eighth. At least it wasn't Drew Smyly on the mound.
The game already well in hand in eighth, Fielder made it a 9-1 blowout with his third home run in as many games. Fielder's solo shot in was big fly number 12 of the season.
After Fielder went yard, consecutive singles off the bats of Martinez, Peralta and Don Kelly made it a 10-1 spanking. The Tigers were just plain helping their run differential at this point.
Phil Coke took over in the ninth. No drama and three quick outs later, the Tigers had put their awful road trip behind them with a much-needed win.
A relatively relaxing GAME OVER!
The final score is Tigers 10, Rays 1. I could use a few more game like this after the drama (or should I say trauma?) of the past week.
Despite a 4-6 record in their past ten games, the Tigers remain in first place in the Central. Their win tonight raises their record to 31-25, and pushes their lead to a full two games over the Cleveland Indians.
Wednesday night lefty Alex Cobb (6-2, 2.66 ERA) makes his first start since May 26 for the Rays. Cobb was scratched from his last start due to a cut on the finger of his pitching hand. Coming off seven shutout innings against the Pirates, the Tall Man, Doug Fister (5-2, 3.28 ERA), gets the starting nod for the Tigers. First pitch is 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Pitching around Miguel Cabrera in order to pitch to Prince Fielder makes Fielder mad. Pitchers wouldn't like it when Fielder's mad.
Prince Fielder with 2-out, 2-run single. He's now 8 of 9 following BB to Cabrera. It's now 4-1 #Tigers, and that was pitch No. 60 for Moore— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) June 4, 2013
Some things never change, such as Kyle Farnsworth allowing a home run at Comerica Park.
That looked familiar. #Farns— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) June 5, 2013
Sabermetricians everywhere cringed during Cabrera's tour of the bases in the sixth. I'm sure Keith Law fainted.
Single, take two bases on a wild pitch, score on a sac fly. And people say Mike Trout has a baserunning edge on Miguel Cabrera.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) June 5, 2013
Drew Smyly was warming up in the seventh, raising the genuine fear he would enter in another low-leverage, garbage time situation. Didn't we have this same discussion about Jim Leyand's misuse of Smyly over the weekend, or is it deja vu?
Smyly warming up. Because burning the best pen arm in blowouts instead of saving him for closer games is something we should keep doing.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) June 5, 2013
False alarm! Turned out it would be Luke Putkonen and Phil Coke pitching in garbage time.
Half convinced Leyland had Smyly warm up just to troll everyone— Cthulhu Whitaker (@jason_d_price) June 5, 2013
Anibal Sanchez: Another quality start, but only 6-5 on the year. Having a season which proves wins and losses are not how you judge a pitcher.
Prince Fielder: Three hits, including a home run, and four RBIs. Now on a nine-game hitting streak, and has gone yard in three straight games. The slump is over.
Jhonny Peralta: Keyed a pair of rallies which helped put the game on ice. Peralta led off the second and third with base hits, scoring the first run in both innings. He ended the night with three hits in five at-bats.
Omar Infante: Nice night for the second baseman with two hits, a big fly and three RBIs.
Matt Tuiasosopo: Reached base three times via an RBI double and a pair of walks, scoring twice. All Big Squiggles does is hit to the tune of a .339 average.
Brayan Pena: Go 0-for-4, get a hiss.
Torii Hunter: Go 0-for-4, you get a hiss too,.
Jim Leyland: For having Drew Smyly warm up in the seventh, freaking everyone out. He trolled us all.
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There were calls for "No one" after another disappointing loss, but in the end Rick Porcello's quality start put him over the top in the PotG voting with 58%.