The Detroit Tigers scored six runs in the first three innings, then held on late to take down the Cleveland Indians 6-4. With the win, the Tigers have extended their lead over the second-place (and now sub .500) Tribe to 4 1/2 games. The Indians downward spiral in the standings has allowed the Tigers to take the biggest divisional lead in the AL.
Rick Porcello (3-3), finally the recipient of run support he didn't get in his last start, was the winning pitcher. Porcello tossed six innings, allowing just three hits and two runs, only one earned, striking out seven. Jose Valverde put the tying runs on base in the ninth, but ended the game with a pair of strikeouts to convert his eighth save.
Losing pitcher Carlos Carrasco (0-2) made his second appearance of the season for the Indians. It was about as unsuccessful as his first. Carrasco struggled through four innings, the Tigers roughing the right-hander up for ten hits and six runs, raising his ERA to 15.26.
The Indians could only muster five hits against four Tigers pitchers. Ex-Tiger Ryan Raburn supplied the majority of the Tribe offense with a two-run homer and an RBI ground out. Prince Fielder lead the Tigers' 12-hit attack with a pair of hits, highlighted by a three-run double to give him 51 RBIs, third most in the AL. Andy Dirks chipped in a pair of two-out singles, driving in two runs. Jhonny Peralta had two hits as well, raising his average to .338.
Could the Tigers take a stranglehold on the AL Central? Sweeping the slumping Indians would go a long way toward doing so, having started the process with a 7-5 win in the Friday opener.
Two batters and four pitches into the game, the Tribe held a lead. Porcello allowed a lead-off double to Michael Bourn, who slapped an opposite-field chopper down the left field line.
So much for that no hitter— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 8, 2013
Tiger Killer Jason Kipnis followed with an RBI single to left, giving the Indians their first lead of the series at 1-0.
And shutout— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 8, 2013
Kipnis advanced to third on his 12th stolen base and a bounce out. Before the Tiger Killer could do any more damage, Porcello struck out Mark Reynolds to end the inning.
The Tigers quickly countered against a shaky Carrasco in the bottom half of the first, loading the bases. Torii Hunter drew a one-out walk. Miguel Cabrera followed with a line single to left and Fielder bounced a single through the left side. Hunter held at third, not wanting to test Raburn's arm with two of the Tigers' hottest bats due up.
The count full on Victor Martinez (1.206 OPS in June), he popped up to short left, not deep enough to plate Hunter. In need of a two-out RBI hit, Peralta (.335 average good for third in the AL) lined out to Raburn, the threat squandered. Baseball sure can be a brutal game.
What was good about the inning was Carrasco was worked hard (26 pitches) and looked ripe for the taking. Unfortunately, there was no taking in the first.
After Porcello settled into a 1-2-3 second, the Tigers put another runner in scoring position against Carrasco in the bottom half of the inning.
Omar Infante ripped a one-out double into the left field corner. Avisail Garcia was unable to drive in the run, grounding out to short. Once again, the Tigers were in need of a two-out RBI hit. This time around, the Tigers would get it. Dirks lined a 3-0 pitch into center field, Infante scoring easily as the Tribe cut off the throw, the game knotted at 1-all.
Hunter's bat having re-awoken during this series, he kept the rally alive with an opposite-field single to right. A Carrasco wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Carrasco quickly got ahead of Cabrera 0-2, but ultimately walked him (Cabrera fouling off a few two strike pitches) to load the bases for Fielder.
Lynn Henning immediately fired off a semi-snarky tweet:
Tigers have five hits, including a double, plus a walk thru 1 2/3 innings and 50 Carrasco pitches. Have scored once.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) June 8, 2013
Make it six hits, including two doubles, and three more runs off Carrasco's 51st pitch. Fielder smashed a bases-clearing double into what Rod and Mario like to call "Triple Valley," his fly ball landing at the base of the scoreboard in deep right center. Fielder had himself three RBIs, and the Tigers were now up 4-1 (MLB.com video)
While Porcello quickly dispatched the Indians in the third, Carrasco just as quickly pitched himself into another jam. Peralta led off with a single, Alex Avila walked as Carrasco's pitch count was pushing 70. Infante hit what Jim Price likes to call a "duck snort," a bloop which fell between three Indians in short right-center, loading the bases for Garcia.
The Tigers pushed their lead to 5-1 when Garcia bounced into a 6-4-3 double play as Peralta crossed the plate. It was the third run-scoring double play the Tigers have hit into in two games.
For the second straight at bat, Dirks came through with a two-out RBI hit, a looping liner to left finding green, Avila scoring to make it a 6-1 game. It took a spectacular diving stop by Reynolds on hot shot off the bat of Hunter to end the inning.
While Carrasco was laboring, Porcello was cruising. After another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, he had retired 12 straight.
Bottom of four, despite Carrasco allowing six runs and a pitch count at 76 pitches, he remained in the game. The Tribe were hoping to get as many innings out of him as possible thanks to Ubaldo Jimenez's early exit on Friday. Carrasco came through with a (needed to keep him in the game) quick inning, retiring the Tigers in order.
The Indians came alive in the top of the fifth, a rally starting due to a pitching sin, the lead-off walk. In this case, the sin was Porcello issuing a free pass to Carlos Santana. Yan Gomes didn't hit the ball hard, Cabrera bare-handing his swinging bunt, but his off balance throw was well over the head of Fielder. The result was no one out and two runners in scoring position.
Porcello methodically pitched out of the jam with minimal damage. He first traded a run for an out, Raburn bouncing to short as Santana scored. Mike Aviles waved at a wicked Porcello breaking ball, striking out. Porcello retired the dangerous Bourn 4-3 to end the inning. The Tribe has closed within four runs at 6-2, but had to feel as if they had just wasted a golden opportunity.
Carrasco would only last one batter into the fifth, though I was surprised he lasted even that long. Peralta knocked him out of the box with his second hit of the day (the Tigers' tenth), lining a lead-off double into the left field corner. If Terry Francona wanted his Tribe to stay within shouting distance of the Tigers, he had little choice but to go to his bullpen, calling on right-hander Matt Langwell.
Langwell would pitch out of trouble, setting down the next three Tigers in order to keep the score at 6-2.
Top of six, Porcello started the inning just as he did in the fifth, walking the Tiger Killer, Kipnis, leading off. Showing signs of tiring, and not wanting to make the same mistake he did in his last start ("I botched it"), Jim Leyland had Luke Putkonen and Darin Downs warming up.
Of course, Kipnis stole second. Porcello got a big out, striking out Swisher on a 3-2 breaking ball. He got an even bigger out, Michael Brantley hitting a come-backer. Porcello fired to second, Kipnis making it back to the bag ahead of Peralta's tag, who then fired to first to nip Brantley. Call it 1-6-3 ground out.
Porcello ended his start in fine fashion, keeping the Tigers up at 6-2. He pitched out of the Kipnis-induced jam when Reynolds was punched out looking.
Porcello's pitch count was 104, holding the Tribe to three hits and two runs, one earned, striking out seven over six innings. He thus received the "Handshake of Doom" from Leyland. There were no hijinks trying to avoid Leyland like Justin Verlander's on Friday night.
Porcello accepts the handshake and looks the skipper in the eye. Ricky's mama didn't raise no fool.— rocky colavito (@theghostofrocky) June 8, 2013
Putkonen took over in the seventh, protecting a 6-2 lead. Santana greeted him with a long drive, but it was to the wrong part of Comerica, deep center. Garcia made a nice defensive play, hauling it in on the warning track. But Peralta nonchalanted Gomes' slow roller (Rod Allen: "Peralta got lazy."), the ball rolling under his glove for an E-6. Putkonen compounded matters when he wild-pitched Gomes into scoring position.
Putkonen made matters even worse, serving up a gopher ball to
Rayburn Raburn. His two-run shot into the bullpen pulled the Tribe to within two runs, now a much tighter 6-4 game. After Garcia had to run down another ball at the warning track in dead center off the bat of Aviles, Leyland had seen enough. He yanked Putkonen, calling on Phil Coke to face the left-hand hitting Bourn. Coke did his job, striking out Bourn to end the seventh.
Cody Allen now on the mound for the Indians in the seventh, Martinez greeted him with a one-out line single to right. Aviles robbed Peralta of a base hit, making a diving stop, then throwing from his knees to nail Martinez at second. Peralta advanced to second on a wild pitch, Avila keeping the inning alive by drawing his second free pass. But Infante could not give the Tigers an insurance run, striking out to the threat.
Joaquin Benoit was warming up, but not on the mound in his customary eighth-inning setup role. Coke remained in the game with two of the next three batters being left-handed. Tiger Killer Kipnis bounced to second for the first out. The one right-hander Coke faced, Nick Swisher, lined to right for out number two. Brantley battled, fouling off several two strike pitches, before looking at a big bender for strike three, ending an excellent four up, four down performance by Coke.
With Joe Smith on the mound for the Tribe in the bottom half of the eighth, Garcia lashed a lead-off double into the right field corner. He advanced to third on Hunter's ground ball to the right side. Two out and first base open, Smith pitched around Cabrera, walking him on four pitches. This time Fielder didn't drive the ball after a Cabrera walk, striking out to end the threat.
There would be no insurance runs to Potato-proof the game. Valverde would pitch in his third straight game, entering in a save situation, holding a two-run lead at 6-4.
With one down, Valverde got a lazy fly to short right off the bat of Reynolds. But Hunter was playing no-doubles depth, and was unable to make a play. Infante tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch, but the ball glanced off his glove for a single.
In a 12-pitch at-bat, Gomes battled Valverde to a full count before walking, the tying run now on base.
Thus came the Valverde vs. Raburn matchup everyone wanted to see. Valverde was the declared the victor by K, catching Raburn looking at a 2-2 splitter for out number two.
Two down, it would be up to the number-nine hitter, Aviles. He couldn't hold up on another split-finger, Valverde ending the game with two straight strikeouts off the splitter.
It was a slog, but GAME OVER!
It wasn't a pretty victory by any means. The Tigers were unable to score after the third inning, Putkonen turning the game into a bit of a nail-biter and an unlucky Valverde ending the game with the tying runs on base. But a win is a win is a win. Especially against the second-place team in the division.
The Tigers move to eight games over the break even mark at 34-26. More importantly, they have taken a 4 1/2 game lead in the Central. In fact, the Tigers are the only team over .500 in the division, the Indians losing six in a row to drop to 30-31. At this rate, they will soon be overtaken by the Twins, who lurk two games back of Cleveland. But even the Twinkies have lost two in a row. The Central is there for the Tigers to run away and hide with, if they can take advantage.
In the series finale, the Indians try to avoid a sweep by sending Justin Masterson (8-4, 3.57 ERA) to the mound. With Anibal Sanchez missing a start due to tightness in his pitching shoulder, the Tigers have called up Jose Alvarez to make his MLB debut. Alvarez was 5-4 with a 2.42 ERA in 12 starts with Triple-A Toledo. First pitch is 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Rick Porcello has been pitching damn well, and ended up with a quality start, but the Tribe got to him early.
Rick Porcello had streak of 16 scoreless innings before 7th-inning damage last start. Indians plated run off him in 4 pitches today.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 8, 2013
As the weather (for the most part) has warmed in Detroit, so has Victor Martinez. V-Mart has an OPS of 1.206 for the month of June after posting a not-DH-like .578 OPS over the first two months. Small sample size and all that, but the signs are there Martinez has turned his season around. Still, V-Mart hasn't had much success with the bases loaded, coming up empty in the first inning.
Victor Martinez had been 0-for-7 with a walk and a sac fly with the bases loaded this season before that pop fly. #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) June 8, 2013
If you ever wondered what football position Miguel Cabrera could play at 6'4", 240 pounds, a Detroit Lions beat writer has the answer.
Indians-Tigers at Comerica Saturday: even a line single by Cabrera is majestic. He's built like a tight end.— Mike O'Hara (@MikeOHaraNFL) June 8, 2013
If you were wondering, the smallest tight end on the Lions' roster is Tony Scheffler at 6'5", 255.
Swinging at a 3-0 pitch, Andy Dirks came through with an RBI single in the second inning. It was completely unexpected, as Dirks swinging at a 3-0 pitch is a very rare thing.
Andy Dirks had only put one 3-0 pitch in play for his big league career before that RBI single scoring Omar Infante. 1-1 game.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 8, 2013
You have to admit we Tigers fans are both spoiled and lucky getting to watch Cabrera and Prince Fielder do that thing they do.
The bases-clearing double also gives Fielder 51 RBI, meaning the #Tigers have two in the top four RBI men in all of baseball.— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) June 8, 2013
Prince: 9-13 with a walk and 13 RBI after Cabrera's last 14 walks.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) June 8, 2013
Meanwhile, on the radio call:
"Think he's learned how to throw a changeup yet?" lol Jim Price on Bondo.—Alexandra Simon (@catswithbats) June 8, 2013
Dan Dickerson literally made a "hnng" noise at the Porcello change up.—Alexandra Simon (@catswithbats) June 8, 2013
Allowing just two runs, one earned over six innings, Porcello tossed his fifth quality start in the eight games since the death-by-papercuts debacle in Anaheim.
Porcello's last 7 games:44.2 IP46/8 K/BB 3.22 ERA.— tiger337 (@tiger337) June 8, 2013
Terry Francona got himself run in the eighth after Nick Swisher got into a beef with first base umpire Rob Drake. Francona intervened to protect Swisher from getting tossed, said the magic words and got the thumb.
On a personal note, you'll be seeing a little more of Rob's recaps over the next four games. The teen is graduating from high school, so I'll be unable to recap on Sunday and Tuesday due to his party and graduation. But I'll be here in spirit!
Rick Porcello: Pitched an excellent six innings, but Leyland made sure to not leave Porcello in too long. There would be no repeat of what happened against the Orioles. Leyland had relievers warming up in the pen and there was no way in Hell Porcello would pitch the seventh. Kid Rick left the game on a very good note, stranding a lead-off walk on second to end the sixth.
Prince Fielder: Had two hits, but the big one was a bases-clearing, three-RBI double in the second.
Andy Dirks: Both of his hits were of the two-out RBI variety. You could say "clutch," if there is such a thing.
Phil Coke: Tossed 1 1/3 hitless innings, striking out two. It was the perfect situation to use Coke in an extended appearance, with three of the four batters faced being lefties.
Luke Putkonen: Want to earn a HISS? Serve up a late-game big fly to freaking Ryan Raburn.
The Tigers disappearing act on offense: Once again, the Tigers' bats were far too quiet in the late innings. Yes, the Tigers took advantage of a not-very-good Carrasco, but the game would have been far less tense if they could have pushed across an extra run or two late when they had the opportunity.
Three overflows? Damn impressive!
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
Four commenters over 100 and one at 99? Impressive!
|1||Joaquin on Sunshine||192|
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|4||Rob Rogacki||Indians just got Rick rolled|
|2||JerseyTigerFan||No fair. The seagull distracted Ryan.|
|2||Rob Rogacki||It doesn't matter where you aim|
|2||JWurm||NYC pizza FTW|
|2||Rob Rogacki||Raul Ibanez?|
Victor Martinez's bat is finally coming around, as shown by his 3-for-4 night in game 59 which led the Tigers to a 7-5 victory over the Tribe. Martinez was an overwhelming PotG with 88% of the vote.