Minnesota Twins' starting pitcher Kevin Correia shut out the hard-hitting Detroit Tigers for 6 2/3 innings, nursing a 1-0 lead. But Correia couldn't get the final out of the seventh, the Tigers scoring four times after two were out. The Tigers would ultimately pull away from the Twins, scoring seven unanswered runs to win going away 7-1.
Tigers' starter Anibal Sanchez allowed just one run and six hits, striking out eight in 6 2/3 innings. But he wasn't around for the decision. That would go to Drew Smyly (5-0), who took the win with an inning of work. Jose Veras earned his 20th save, but first as a Tiger, pitching the final 1 1/3.
Correia was excellent, pitching into the seventh. But three straight hits with two out ended his night and stuck him the loss. Correia was charged with four runs on nine hits, walking two, striking out just one. Three Twins' relievers combined to give up three runs, all unearned, in a 1 1/3 innings of work.
Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera did all their damage from the seventh inning on. Hunter gave the Tigers a lead they would not give up with a two RBI double in the seventh. Cabrera slammed the door on the Twins, driving in three with an eighth inning double, giving him an MLB leading 123 RBIs on the season. Austin Jackson had three hits and two runs from the lead off spot, DH Victor Martinez chiming in with a pair of hits and an RBI.
This was a weird night in which the Tigers' offense was awful for 6 2/3 innings, then unstoppable the remainder of the game. Tonight was exhibit A as to why, no matter how bad the Tigers look for long stretches, we should never count them out of a game. One, because their starting pitching is so damn good. Two, because Miguel Cabrera. Three, because the Tigers are the class of the American League.
After two were down in the top of the first, the always troublesome Justin Morneau singled off Anibal Sanchez. Morneau took second on a wild pitch, but would be stranded when Ryan Doumit sent a can of corn to right, ending the semi-threat.
Bottom half of the first, an excellent defensive play by Pedro Florimon helped keep the Tigers off the scoreboard.
Austin Jackson led off with a line single to right. Jim Leyland called for a hit and run, Torii Hunter hitting a hard ground ball to the right of Florimon ... but not far enough. Florimon was able to stop his momentum toward second, twist around and stab Hunter's ground ball. Jackson was safe at second, but Hunter was thrown out at first. Miguel Cabrera made a bid, but his fly ball to right died on the warning track for the second out. Jackson now on third, Kevin Correia got out of trouble on Prince Fielder's ground out.
Through one inning there were two hits, two scoring threats, and no score.
Top of two, the Twinkies manufactured their second two out threat thanks to a pair of ex-Tigers. It started when Clete Thomas singled with two down. Unlike the Tigers, the Twins were able to pull off the hit and run, Wilkin Ramirez lining a single where Omar Infante had been positioned, Thomas taking third. Sanchez was able to pitch out of trouble, Florimon flying out to end the inning.
Thomas and Ramirez reaching base begs the question:
Why are we allowing former outfielders from this org on base?— Tokarz (@tokarzontigers) August 21, 2013
Another half inning, another runner in scoring position. With one out, Andy Dirks singled, taking second when Jose Iglesias did the same after two were down. Bryan Holaday hit the ball hard, but his line drive was right at Florimon, the two out threat dying an early death.
Just when it appeared Sanchez would have his first 1-2-3 inning, Morneau made it three straight innings a Twin reached scoring position by doubling with two out in the third. Sanchez compound matters by walking Doumit, then doubled down on trouble by uncorking his second wild pitch of the night, both runners advancing to scoring position.
But for the third consecutive inning, the Twins would strand runners in scoring position, Sanchez striking out Chris Colabello. Sanchez was dancing up to the line of disaster for three innings, deftly stepping back at the least second. But in stranding five on base, Sanchez's pitch count through three innings was a relatively high 53.
For the fourth straight inning, the third out was Sanchez's kryptonite. This time it was thanks to The Revenge of Ex-Tigers. Ramirez's fly ball found the gap in right center, allowing him to leg out a two base hit. Once again, Sanchez danced with the devil in the pale moonlight, yet kept getting away with it. He struck out Florimon to pitch out of another scoring threat.
Four innings, four two out Twins' rallies, six left on base, four rallies extinguished.
Mlive's Chris Iott sums up the series to this point.
Baseball. RT @TimothySteere these last two nights, how are we not killing these bums ?— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) August 22, 2013
Bottom of four, the Tigers' luck remained the same - bad. Victor Martinez led off by yanking a line drive to right which appeared to have home run distance. It didn't, hitting the top of the right field wall and right back to Chris Herrmann. what looked to be home run off his bat, instead Martinez was held to a single.
In what was not a picturesque at bat, Dirks popped up for the first out. Correia then called upon a pitcher's BFF, the 6-4-3 double play, this one coming off the bat of Infante,
Lynn Henning of the Detroit News and BYB's own Tigerdog sum up the first four innings.
.There are very good scoreless games. And there are some that should be euthanized. This one tonight in Detroit is from the Kevorkian files.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 22, 2013
Malaise is oozing from this game, right through my TV screen.— Patrick OKennedy (@Tigerdog_1) August 22, 2013
One of the perils of watching a team day in, day out, is not every game is a classic. This one was as far from it as possible.
Top of five, Sanchez accomplished two things for the first time in the game - he retired Morneau and set the Twins down in order. A 1-2-3 inning was all well and good, but could the Tigers give Sanchez any run support?
The smoking hot Iglesias led off the bottom half of the fifth with a single. The Tigers proceeded to give the Twinkies a free out (and giving us a preview of this weekend's series with the Mets), Holaday sacrificing the rookie to second. As usual, the bunt didn't work. Jackson struck out, Hunter bouncing to third, Trevor Plouffe oddly electing to run after and tag out Iglesias to end another fruitless, scoreless inning.
BYB's HookSlide puts it better than I can.
This isn't so much a "Pitcher's Duel" as it is a "Frustrated Offense Duel."— HookSlide (@CabrerasCorner) August 22, 2013
Top of six and now in a groove, Sanchez had his second 1-2-3 inning of the night. He was helped by Cabrera, who charged Plouffe's slow roller, making a barehanded play to nail the runner at first ending the inning.
The Tigers were given an extra out in the bottom of the sixth, but it led to nothing but another out. Fielder walked with one out, but Martinez bounced to second to start what looked to be a 4-6-3 Twin killing. Florimon's throw sailed past Colabello, Martinez safe at first. The Tigers couldn't take advantage of the break, Dirks grounding out to second.
Sanchez had set down nine straight Twins before Florimon walked with two down in the seventh. Walking the number nine hitter was the beginning of the end for Sanchez.
Holaday never had a chance when Florimon got a huge jump off Sanchez, easily stealing second. I swear the last time the Tigers threw someone out stealing, Mickey Cochrane was behind the damn plate. Turns out, I'm close.
Opposing baserunners have stolen 15 straight bases against the Tigers since Avila threw out Michael Brantley on Aug. 7.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) August 22, 2013
You walk a number nine batter hitting .216 and allow him to get a running start from first, you deserve what comes next. In this case, it was a run, as the walk and stolen base proved deadly. Brian Dozier bounced a single up the middle, the large crowd at Comericaa Park groaning audibly as Florimon scored to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.
After 6 2/3 innings and 112 pitches, Leyland made the call for Drew Smyly to replace Sanchez. Of course, Dozier easily swiped second (16 straight!) before Chris Herrmann lined out to left.
Apparently, journeyman Twins pitchers are near unhittable when they face the Tigers. Correia was cruising, holding the Tigers to six hits and no runs as he entered the seventh. The Tigers managed to put together a scoring threat with two out, Holaday and Jackson reaching base on back-to-back singles.
Suddenly, Correia wasn't cruising. The Twins left him in the game one batter too long. A sleepy game turned wild in the blink of an eye.
Quickly down 0-2, Hunter battled back to a 2-2 count. On Correia's 100th pitch of the game, Hunter ripped a line shot to right center. Herrmann was unable to cut the ball off, leaving Thomas to run it down from center as it rolled toward the warning track. Holaday would have scored either way, but the ball getting past Herrmann allowed Jackson to score without a throw. Hunter's huge two out, two RBI double had given the Tigers a 2-1 advantage (MLB.com video).
Correia remained in the game for one more batter, issuing an intentional pass to Cabrera. Ron Gardenhire then pulled Correia, calling on lefty Caleb Thielbar to face Fielder.
Before reading further, cue up Yakety Sax.
Thielbar struck out Fielder swinging, but Doumit was unable to handle the high and tight fastball, the ball rolling to the backstop. Fielder rumbled to first, beating Doumit's throw. Hunter, seeing Thielbar was watching the action instead of covering the plate, smartly never stopped running, scoring all the way from second without a throw.
Scoring their second run of the inning all the way from second base on a passed ball, their Tigers had pushed their lead to 3-1.
Fell free to turn off Yakety Sax.
Martinez just missed a home run for the second straight at bat, smoking a line drive off the 345' mark down the left field line. This time Martinez settled for an RBI double, Fielder stopping at third while Cabrera crossed the plate to make it a 4-1 game.
Don Kelly, pinch hitting for Matt Tuiasosopo who was pinch hitting for Dirks, got to face another ex-Tiger .Casey Fien, who replaced Thielbar, stranded the runners in scoring position, Donnie Baseball bouncing out to first to end the inning.
But what an inning it was, the Tigers scoring four runs on a walk and four hits, all after two were out.
While Jose Veras was warming up, Smyly remained in the game to start the eighth. He was lights out, striking out the always dangerous Morneau and the butter-gloved Doumit before giving way to Veras. The veteran right-hander retired Colabello on a ground ball to Iglesias, ending the inning and setting up a save opportunity for Joaquin Benoit.
Well, it appeared to be a save situation until Cabrera came to the plate with the base loaded in the bottom of the eighth.
The Tigers loaded the bases against rookie right-hnader Michael Tonkin. Infante singled with one out, Jackson doing the same with two down. On what should have the final out of the eighth, Dozier proceeded to boot Hunter's ground ball, loading the bases for Cabrera.
M-V-P chants roaring all around Comerica, Cabrera yanked Tonkin's 85 MHP meatball down the left field line for a bases clearing double, putting the game out of reach at 7-1 (MLB.com video).
Down 1-0 in the seventh, the Tigers had roared back to score seven unanswered runs, all with two out.
No need for Benoit with a six run lead in the ninth, Veras remained on the mound for mop up duty. There would be no Revenge of the Ex-Tigers tonight, Veras striking out Thomas and Ramirez to end the game in fine fashion.
GAME actually OVER. Your final score is Tigers 7, Twins 1.
Just when you want to write off the Tigers, they explode for seven runs. An extremely frustrating game for six plus innings ended as a laffer.
The victory raises the Tigers' overall record to 74-52 overall, 41-22 at home. Despite playing .500 ball over their past ten games, the Tigers still have the best winning percentage in the AL at .587. The Indians kept pace with a win over the Angels, holding steady at 5 1/2 games back in the Central, 2 1/2 in the wild card. The Royals, already out of the race in the Central at 9 1/2 games back, are on the verge of dropping out of wild card race as well, six behind for the final playoff spot.
The series finale features a raw rookie versus one of MLBs elite, left-hander Andrew Albers taking on Justin Verlander. Albers, a 27 year old rookie, was called up from Triple-A earlier this month to replace demoted Scott Diamond. His first two starts were brilliant, posting a 2-0 record while not giving up a run in 17 1/3 innings. Albers came back to earth in his third start, allowing five runs and eight hits over seven innings in a loss to the White Sox. Verlander seems to have solved his mechanical issues. In his last four starts, Verlander is 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA, striking out 28 in 29 innings. It's getaway day for both teams, meaning a first pitch of 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
While the Twins and Tigers were stranding base runners, Ichiro Suzuki was slapping a single to left for his 4000th career hit.
Mr. 4000: pic.twitter.com/wCCTmlCIW9— MLB (@MLB) August 21, 2013
One of the perks of covering the Tigers on a night in, night out basis is learning who to bet on in the Dunkin' Donuts scoreboard race.
Great Comerica Park bet: Cuppie Coffee never finishes last in the Dunkin Donut race. He's also always in the lead at 1st and 3rd base.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) August 21, 2013
Jose Iglesias has been swinging a hot bat on the home stand. Entering tonight's game, the rookie shortstop is hitting .389/.450/.444 over his past six games.
Truer words have not been spoken.
After five innings, Anibal Sanchez took over the league lead in a one of the most visible pitching stats.
Sanchez has tied Kuroda for league lead in ERA -- 2.41.— Freep Tigers (@freeptigers) August 22, 2013
Sanchez would end the night where he started, second in AL ERA at 2.45, thanks to allowing a run in the seventh.
Rod Allen after Miguel Cabrera's nice defensive play in the sixth:
"Iglesias is rubbing off on Miggy!"
So ... uh ... let's move on, shall we?
This is just plain ridiculous.
In 21 games since his injury, Cabrera has put up a full-season pace of .360 with 69 homers and 209 RBIs.— Tigers Talk 24/7 (@Tiger_Talk_247) August 22, 2013
There was good news on the Alex Avila front.
Alex Avila will begin a rehab assignment with Triple A Toledo beginning tomorrow. #Tigers— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 22, 2013
Lynn Henning breaks down Avila's rehab:
Tentative plan for Alex Avila: catch 7 innings Thursday-Friday; DH on Saturday; catch 5-6 innings Sunday. Rejoin team Monday for Oakland.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 22, 2013
Anibal Sanchez: A lack of run support hung Sanchez with a no-decision, but giving up just one run in 6 2/3 innings leaves his season ERA at a sterling 2.45. In five starts against the Twins in 2013, Sanchez is only 1-1, but has a remarkable 1.78 ERA.
Torii Hunter: Two hits, two RBIs and a run scored. Hunter's two out double was the hit of the game. His smart base running, scoring all the way from second on a passed ball was the play of the game.
Miguel Cabrera: Essentially ended the game with his bases clearing double in the eighth, increasing his MLB leading RBI total to 123.
Victor Martinez: Missed a two home run night by a couple of feet combined, settling for a pair of hits and an RBI.
Austin Jackson: Triggered the offense with three hits, scoring a pair of runs.
Drew Smyly: Retired all three batters he faced.
Jose Veras: Earned the save by retiring all four Twins he faced.
The Twins: Hate for the Twins, I has it. Always have, always will.
The Indians: They can start losing again. Anytime, guys.
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Prince Fielder carried the offense with a home run and two RBIs. Fielder also carried the PotG balloting with 78% of the vote.