The Detroit Tigers broke open a tight 3-3 game by scoring eight unearned runs in the sixth inning off three Philadelphia Phillies pitchers, ultimately rollicking to a 12-4 victory. The Tigers sweep the three game series, outscoring the Phillies 24-5. The staggering Phillies head to the west coast with an eight-game losing streak as baggage.
Before the unearned run-fest started in earnest, the Tigers lost the services of Miguel Cabrera and Jim Leyland. Both were ejected by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild for arguing balls and strikes in the third inning.
Despite not being at his sharpest, Rick Porcello (8-6) won his fourth straight decision. Porcello met the bare minimum for a quality start, allowing three runs while scattering seven hits over six innings of work.
Five Phillies pitchers combined to allow 13 hits, walking nine, serving up 12 runs, but only four earned. Starter Jonathan Pettibone wasn't around to get a decision, exiting after five innings, allowing three runs and seven hits over five innings. Victimized by shoddy defense (including his own), Jake Diekman (0-1), the second of five Phillies pitchers, allowed four unearned runs in 1/3 of an inning, taking the loss.
The Tigers had base runners galore, Jhonny Perlata making the most of them with two hits, including a game-breaking grand slam in the eight-run sixth. Ramon Santiago had his best day of the season, reaching base four times. Matt Tuiasosopo and Victor Martinez had two RBIs apiece.
What started as a tight nail-biter, exacerbated by an umpire making himself the center of attention, ended up a second consecutive blowout victory for the Tigers. Baseball sure is a funny game.
The Tigers used a pair of walks to manufacture a one-out scoring threat in the first, but a double play bailed Jonathan Pettibone out of further trouble. With Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera on base via free pass, the Phillies had Prince Fielder played perfectly. Jimmy Rollins turned a quick 6-4-3 double play on Fielder's ground ball up the middle.
A one-out walk led to the Phillies scoring their first run (and lead) since the third inning on Friday night. John Mayberry walked, took second on a ground ball and scored on Carlos Ruiz's single to center. Rick Porcello would get out of the inning without further damage, but the Phillies had taken a 1-0 lead.
Porcello tossed his first 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon in the third. Bottom half of the inning, Alex Avila led off with the the Tigers' first hit of the game, a fly ball to deep left center which bounced over the wall for a ground rule double. Ramon Santiago tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt on the first pitch from Pettibone, and failed. The Tigers wisely thought better of it and asked Santiago to swing away instead. He did and slashed a single to left, Avila stopping at third.
Pettibone dug himself into a deeper hole, loading the bases with no one out by walking Jackson. For some ungodly reason, Don Kelly was given the green light with the count 3-1. He swung away, popping up for the first out of the inning. The bases still juiced for Cabrera, he was quickly down in the count 0-2.
Cabrera looked upset, turned to home plate umpire Chad Fairchild and said, well, something. Whatever he said lit a fuse under Fairchild. Shockingly, the home plate ump decided to make himself the focus of the game and showing a complete lack of respect for Cabrera, tossing MLB's leading hitter without any sign of being shown up. Jim Leyland quickly bum-rushed Fairchild, and got tossed just as quickly. Leyland hung on for quite a while, but Fairchild had already changed the complexion of the game with his quick temper. (Click here to find MLB.com video of the entire fiasco)
As the boos rained down on the human element, Cabrera was replaced by Matt Tuiasosopo. Of course, Fairchild punched out Tuiasosopo looking for the second out. A lousy, ridiculous inning ended on an awful at-bat by Fielder, who popped up the first pitch he saw.
The defensive changes caused by Fairchild were as follows. Tuiasosopo remained in the game to play left field. Andy Dirks slid over to right field, Don Kelly moved into the infield to take over third base.
Porcello immediately found himself in trouble, Kevin Frandsen leading off the fourth with a ground-rule double. Mayberry followed with a single to center, but Frandsen was unable to score, stumbling on his way to third. Laynce Nix was able to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead, coming through with their third straight hit, a single to right. Runners on the corners and Ruiz at the plate, Porcello was bailed out of further trouble when Jhonny Peralta went into the hole to start a nicely turned 6-4-3 double play.
The Tigers continued to threaten, but not score ... this time without the help of Fairchild. Pettibone walked Victor Martinez, Peralta following with a single. Two on and no one out, the threat soon fizzled. Dirks sent a can of corn of left, Avila bouncing into a double play. Inning over in the blink of an eye.
Porcello, not as sharp as he's been in his last three starts, pitched into more trouble in the fifth. Rookie Steve Susdorf led off with his first career big league hit, doubling into the right field corner. Playing NL style ball, Charlie Manuel had Jimmy Rollins bunt Susdorf to third. Porcello was able to strike out Young for the second out, then intentionally walked Chase Utley to get a righty-righty match up with cleanup hitter Darin Ruf. The strategy didn't work, Ruf sending an RBI single to center, pushing the Phillies lead to 3-0.
Bottom of five, for the second time in the game, the Tigers loaded the bases with no one out. But this time around, the Tigers made noise.
Santiago laid down a perfect bunt for a lead-off single. Jackson and Kelly followed up with back-to-back singles, loading the bases. Tuiasosopo lined a single to right, Santiago scoring. Bases still loaded, Fielder didn't hit the ball hard, but his slow roller to second moved all the runners forward, Jackson scoring on the RBI ground out. Martinez followed with a chopper to first, Ruf giving Kelly an extra split second by stepping on the bag before throwing home. Donnie Baseball made use of that half second, beating the throw home to knot the game at 3-all.
The Phillies needed a highlight reel grab by Frandsen to end the inning, keeping the score tied. The Phillies second baseman raced into short center to rob Peralta of a bloop single, saving a run with an over-the-shoulder grab.
After Porcello tossed a shutdown top of the sixth, the Tigers faced a new Phillies pitcher, Jake Diekman. The right-hander caused all his own problems, setting off a silly series of events which would put the game out of reach for the Phillies.
Diekman started the Phillies' downward spiral with a lead-off walk to Dirks. Avila tried to give the Phillies an out, laying down a sacrifice bunt. But Diekman tried to make a play that wasn't there, throwing to second. He nearly threw the ball into center as Dirks slid safely into second. Santiago tried to give himself as well, also dropping a sacrifice bunt. Diekman took far too much time, double clutching on the throw to first. Santiago hustled down the line, beating the late throw to be credited with a bunt single, loading the bases.
Jackson flew out to short right, not deep enough for Dirks to score. Kelly did hit a fly ball deep enough to score Dirks. But Susdorf, playing Kelly's fly ball with all the skill of Bad News Bear outfielder Timmy Lupus, staggered toward the warning track, then dropped the ball. The E-7 allowed Dirks to score, giving the Tigers a lead at 4-3, the bases remained loaded.
Manuel made a pitching change, right-hander Luis García replacing Diekman. The wheels proceeded to come off the Phillies' wagon in spectacular fashion.
Tuiasosopo earned an easy RBI, Garcia walking him on four pitches. None of Garcia's pitches were remotely close to the plate, ball four bouncing to the backstop. Fielder followed with a chopper to first, Ruf throwing home for what should have been an easy force play. But a high throw pulled Ruiz off the plate, Santiago scoring on Ruf's throwing error.
Garcia and Martinez battled, the Tigers' DH fouling off a handful of full count pitches before drawing a walk, driving home the fourth Tigers run of the inning.
Peralta said to Hell with this one-run-at-a-time foolishness. Bases still loaded, Peralta viciously turned on Garcia's 2-0 fastball. When the ball landed, the Tigers had scored EIGHT UNEARNED RUNS, held an 11-3 lead, Garcia was on his way to the showers and all the histrionics involving Fairchild had been made moot. Peralta's fourth career grand slam was his tenth home run of the season, turning the game into the proverbial laugher.
Oh, yeah. GAME OVER.
The aptly named Antonio Bastardo took over for Garcia to finish off a bastard of an inning for the Phillies. The left-hander finally ended the craziness with a pair of strikeouts.
When the laughter had died down and tears had been wiped from the eyes, the Tigers had sent 11 to the plate, scoring eight runs, all unearned, on a measly two hits. The Phillies used three pitchers, committed three errors, walked in a pair of runs and surrendered a grand slam.
The Phillies may have still believed they had a shot at a wild card before the sixth inning. By the end of it, I'm sure GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was on the horn letting the baseball world know the store was open and he was ready to start taking offers.
Drew Smyly had started warming up when the game was tied 3-all. Being he was ready to go, huge lead be damned, Smyly took over for Porcello in the top of the seventh. He would retire the Phillies in order. Using Smyly in a blowout isn't as big a deal as it would normally be, thanks to his not having pitched since Wednesday and the Tigers having an off day tomorrow.
Bottom of seven and Bastardo still in the game, the Tigers increased their lead to 12-3. Jackson doubled to left center, scoring easily on Hernan Perez's one-out single.
Bruce Rondon pitched the eighth, allowing the fourth Phillies' run of the day. Ruf doubled off the left field wall, scoring on Frandsen's single. Frandsen also ran the Phillies out of the inning on the same play, thrown out at second trying to stretch his single into a double.
In the eighth inning, on the bad side of a 12-4 score, the Phillies finally got to use their on-the-trading-block closer, Johnathan Papelbon. The Tigers would load the bases again ... Hell, I've lost count how many times ... with two out, but Papelbon would end a scoreless inning when Jackson bounced into a fielder's choice.
Today's ninth inning garbage time pitcher was Phil Coke. Holding an eight run lead was no problem, Coke tossing a 1-2-3 ninth to end a wild victory.
GAME officially OVER.
Your final score is Tigers unearned runs 8, Tigers earned runs 4, Phillies 4. Hey, if the Phillies want to give the Tigers a series sweep, it would have been rude not to accept.
Post game, Cabrera said the sequence of events to his ejection were as follows. Cabrera claimed he was tossed for telling Fairchild, "That's horrible." Fairchild reportedly countered with, "You called me horrible," and tossed Cabrera.
Leyland was less talkative about the confrontation with Fairchild, refusing to address the situation. Leyland replied with "Next question" three different times, not wanting to get sucked into a discussion which would only end badly.
As for Fairchild's side of the incident? Fairchild claimed he warned Cabrera to stop arguing after the first pitch, then ejected him when he continued to complain after the second strike.Crew chief Jeff Kellog declined to comment if the Putkonen incident came up during today's ejection, but did say he was not concerned over his crew having two major blowups with the Tigers in recent weeks.
With the series sweep, the Tigers have won 7-of-8, reaching a season high of 14 games over .500 at 59-45. But the Indians are keeping pace, the Tigers' lead in the Central holding steady at three games over the entire weekend. The Tribe have won four straight, including a three-game weekend sweep of the Rangers.
After ten straight games, Monday is a deserved day of rest for the Tigers. They await the arrival of Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals for a short two-game interleague series to commence on Tuesday. Game one features an elite pitching match-up, even if their respective win/loss records don't reflect it: Strasburg (5-8, 2.85 ERA) vs. Anibal Sanchez (8-7, 2.68 ERA). Tuesday night's first pitch is set for 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Alex Avila may finally be turning his season around. He's hitting .255/.349/.364 for the month of July. The power may still be lacking, but an Avila who gets on base at a .350 clip is just what the Tigers' offense ordered.
The online reaction to umpire Chad Fairchild making himself the star was swift and brutal.
#TTBCF (*Tigers threaten, but Chad Fairchild)— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) July 28, 2013
Incredible that umpires are given the power to irreparably affect games due to their egos.— Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley) July 28, 2013
Not 1 person came here to Comerica Park to see Chad Fairchild umpire. There were 40,000 people who paid to see Miguel Cabrera hit. Brutal.— Pat Caputo (@patcaputo98) July 28, 2013
It's such garbage. Most umps usually only eject guys if they get shown up. Then there are these toolbags who need to puff out their chests.— Alexandra Simon (@catswithbats) July 28, 2013
Umps need to be held accountable. Miggy and Jim will both be asked about their ejections, but who will Fairchild answer to?— Displaced Tigers Fan (@DisplacedTigers) July 28, 2013
The pitches to Cabrera were both strikes, but you don't toss a guy for complaining quietly, especially with recent history with his team.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) July 28, 2013
The recent history being Fairchild was the umpire who butchered the handling of a purpose-pitch incident a few weeks ago between the Tigers and White Sox. Fairchild didn't issue a warning after Chris Sale hit Prince Fielder, then ejected Luke Putkonen but not Alexei Ramirez in the following dust up.
Meanwhile, in the Tigers' radio booth, Jim Price was still peeved at Fairchild:
Jim Price just almost said "pissed."— Alexandra Simon (@catswithbats) July 28, 2013
How bad was the bottom of the sixth for the Phillies?
The Phillies have offered to trade Papelbon for the final 2 outs in this inning. #Tigers— Eric J Guerin (@EricJGuerin) July 28, 2013
It took the Phillies 32 minutes to get three outs.
Here's your "Baseball is a funny game" stat of the day:
Jhonny Peralta: Had a pair of hits and four RBIs. Peralta's grand slam was today's dagger in the Phillies' heart.
Cabrera's replacements in the three spot: After completing Cabrera's third-inning K, Matt Tuiasosopo was 1-for-1 with a walk and RBI. Hernan Perez entered the game in the seventh, going 1-for-1 with a run scored and an RBI.
The Phillies' defense: Three brutal errors all but gifted the Tigers eight runs in the killer sixth inning.
Prince Fielder: Despite ample opportunity, Fielder drove in just one run with a ground out. An 0-for-5 afternoon dropped Fielder's average to .261 on the season.
Prince Fielder has left 11 runners on base this afternoon. The Major-League record is 12, set by Trot Nixon (2003) and David Ortiz (2009).— Dan Hasty (@DanHasty34) July 28, 2013
Umpire Chad Fairchild: At least Fairchild's antics got himself trending on Twitter and increased his MLB-leading ejection count to eight.
Chad Fairchild has thrown out six people in July, including four since July 20. Also worked the All-Star Game.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) July 28, 2013
All-Star standards have been lowered for umpires, obviously.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
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|3||SanDiegoMick||AJAX shoulda bunted|
Max Scherzer won his 15th game in dominant fashion, allowing one base runner in six innings. The BYB community awarded Scherzer PotG with 44% of the vote.