Tigers 6, Mets 1: Dice-K rocked early, Jackson, Hunter, Cabrera all homer as Tigers increase lead in Central

Rich Schultz

The Tigers pounded Daisuke Matsuzaka, for five runs and six hits in the first and second innings, cruising to a 6-1 victory. Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson all homered, Doug Fister earning his 11th win.


Final - 8.23.2013 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 1 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 6 8 0
New York Mets 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 10 0
WP: Doug Fister (11 - 6)
LP: Daisuke Matsuzaka (0 - 1)

The Detroit Tigers rode the top of the order to a 6-1 victory over the New York Mets. Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera all homered, combining for five hits and six RBIs. Daisuke Matsuzaka's first start for the Mets didn't go as hoped, serving up five runs, including a pair of home runs, in the first two innings.

Tigers' starter and winner Doug Fister (11-6) pitched into the seventh, holding the Mets to one run on eight hits, striking out four over 6 1/3 innings. Drew Smyly, Jose Veras and Bruce Rondon all pitched in relief, shutting out the Mets over the final 2 2/3.

Matsuzaka (0-1) did pitch five full innings, but earned the loss by allowing six hits and five runs. Dice-K did retire the final ten batters he faced, but by the time he settled in, the Mets had found themselves in a 5-1 hole.

The Tigers were actually outhit by the Mets 10-8, but Jackson, Hunter and Cabrera shouldered the load. The top three in the order combined on a 5-for-13, six RBI, five runs scored, three home run night. Jackson reached base twice, scoring a pair of runs and driving in one. Hunter added a double to go along with his home run, scoring twice and driving in a pair. Cabrera also had a pair of hits, increasing his league leading RBI total to 126 by driving in three.

Marlon Byrd had a pair of hits for the Mets, driving in their lone run with a first inning single. Wilmer Flores and Eric Young each chipped in with three hits for the losers.

The Tigers did as they should against an obviously inferior opponent. They took care of business. They put the Mets in an early hole and were never in any serious danger.

Daisuke Matsuzaka didn't make the best of first impressions with the Mets' fan base. Torii Hunter crushed Dice-K's letter high 0-2 fastball, sending it deep into the left field seats. Hunter's no-doubt solo shot was home run number 14 on the season, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead (MLB.com video).

Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder followed with back-to-back singles. Another hit might have had Matsuzaka on the ropes, but a pop fly off the bat of Victor Martinez and Don Kelly's pop up ended the threat.

Speedy Eric Young led off the bottom of the first with a single off Doug Fister, and immediately decided to test Martinez. Making his first appearance behind the plate in over two seasons, Martinez was no different than any other Tigers' catcher - he couldn't throw out the base runner, Young easily swiping second. Though Martinez didn't really have a chance, Young with a huge jump off Fister.

Fister made a smart play on Daniel Murphy's comebacker, firing to second, catching Young in a rundown. But the Tigers, as we've seen over and over again, aren't very good at ending rundowns quickly. Murphy had reached second by the time Cabrera tagged out Young.

That would end up costing the Tigers a run. Marlon Byrd singled to right center, Kelly made an excellent throw but Murphy narrowly beat Martinez's tag, the Mets knotting the game at 1-all. On the bight side, Martinez's knees didn't crumble into a million pieces in the collision.

Top of two, the Tigers showed the Mets just how ill-advised their Dice-K experiment is. Omar Infante led off with an infield single, third baseman Wilmer Flores making a diving stop of Omar Infante's ground ball, but unable to make a play. Onfante was credited with an infield single. Jose Iglesias was robbed of a base hit by Young with a diving catch in shallow left. Fister, despite entering the game with a .667 batting average, laid down a sacrifice bunt (Seriously, I had NO problem with the bunt). Matsuzaka walked Austin Jackson, which turned out to be a big mistake.

Then came the offensive fireworks.

Hunter, absolutely jumping all over Dice-K's middling stuff, launched another bomb, this time a ground rule double to dead center. Two runs would have scored, but Hunter's two base bounced over the wall on one hop, Jackson forced to retreat to third.

Cabrera quickly made Jackson returning to third moot by clobbering the first pitch he saw. Dice-K's 88 MPH meatball left Citi Field far faster than it arrived at home plate, the only question if it would be a three run home run or foul. Cabrera's smash stayed fair, staying right of the foul pole. The Earl Weaver Special, was home run number 41 on the season, giving Cabrera 126 RBIs and the Tigers a 5-1 lead (MLB.com video).

Game over? Pretty much.

The Tigers up four, Matsuzaka finally settled in, retiring seven straight batters after Cabrera's home run. Once pitching coach Jeff Jones visited the mound after Fister started the second inning with six straight balls, walking Juan Lagares in the process, the Tigers' starter didn't allow another base runner until two were out in the fourth.

The Mets manufactured a two out threat thanks to back-to-back paper cuts, Flores reached via a swinging bunt, Lagares sending a soft looper past Infante. Fister would bandage up his cuts, ending the inning on Travis d'Arnaud's can of corn to left.

A punching bag for two innings, Matsuzaka had turned a switch and had been lights out since, shocking everyone. Facing the meat of the Tigers' order in the fifth, Dice-K retired Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder, his out streak reach ten straight. That's where it would end, Matsuzaka 's night was over after five innings with a below average line of five innings, five runs and five hits, an ERA of 9.00 and the Mets down 5-1.

Top of six, the right-handed reliever who was originally slated to start tonight's game, Carlos Torres, took over for the Mets. Infante became the first Tiger to reach base since the second inning with a two out single, but Iglesias flew out to end the inning.

Bottom half of the sixth, Fister was unable to get a third strike past Byrd, lining a 1-2 pitch over the head of Kelly for a lead off double. One down, Flores lined a single to left, Kelly getting the ball in quickly, forcing Byrd to hold up at third. Al lburquerque and Jose Alvarez were warming up in Tigers' bullpen, Fister seemingly on the verge of being pulled. But Cabrera was able to turn Lagares' one-hop chopper into a pitcher's BFF, a nicely turned, inning ending 5-4-3 double play.

Top of the seventh and one out, Jackson increased the Tigers' lead to 6-1 by yanking a thigh-high Torres fastball over the left field wall near the 335' mark for his 11th home run of the season (MLB.com video). All three Tigers' home runs (Curly fries!) had been hit by the top three in the batting order.

Fister's pitch count at 101 entering the bottom of the seventh,  Jim Leyland was hoping to get one more inning out of his starter. Hoping is one thing, getting that inning was another.

With one out, Fister allowed a single to Omar Quintanilla, then signed his exit notice by walking pinch hitter Andrew Brown on five pitches. Bruce Rondon and and Drew Smyly working in the pen,  Leyland made the call for the left-hander, Smyly.  No problem for the rookie reliever, who would strand both runners by striking out Young and Murphy flying out to right.

While Mets' relievers Pedro Feliciano and David Aardsma combined to toss a scoreless eighth for the Mets, Tigers' setup man Josae Veras found himself in a two out jam in the bottom half of the inning. Flores singled for the third straight at bat, Lagares walking on a 3-2 pitch. d'Arnaud sent a pop fly to shallow left center, Iglesias, Kelly and Jackson all converged. The Mets crowd sounded as if they were expecting a collision, but Jackson took control, easily hauling in the pop up to extinguish the threat.

"This place is going to be hopping tomorrow. Two really, really good pitchers having really, really good years. Should be fun." -Jim Leyland acknowledging the interest in Saturday's Scherzer-Harvey match up

Despite seeing closer Joaquin Benoit warming in the bullpen in the eighth, with a five run lead the Tigers elected to go with Bruce Rondon to wrap up the victory. Heavy B did give up a meaningless two out double to Young, but Murphy sent a lazy fly ball to left, Kelly hauling it in to wrap up an easy win.

GAME OVER.

Your final score is Tigers 6, Mets 1.

It was a methodical dismantling of the Mets, the game essentially placed in the Tigers' hip pocket by Cabrera when he went deep in the third. From that point on, the Tigers' marvelous pitching came to the fore. Given a four, then five run cushion, Fister, Smyly, Veras and Rondon shut out the Mets over the final eight innings.

Ho-hum stuff, actually.

It was a good night all around for the Tigers, and not just because of their easy win over the Mets. The Twins did the Tigers a solid, knocking the Indians another game back in the standings with a 5-1 win. The Tigers raise their overall record to 75-53, their lead over the 69-59 Tribe now six full games.

Game two between the Tigers and Mets features an elite pitching match up, AL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer (18-1, 2.82 ERA) taking on NL Rookie of the Year candidate Matt Harvey (9-4, 2.25 ERA). Scherzer, the fifth pitcher since 1912 to begin a season 18-1, returns to Citi Field, where he started the All-Star game. In his last four starts, Scherzer is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA. Harvey's W/L record doesn't reflect it, but he's been better in the second half than in his All-Star first half. In six post break starts, Harvey is just 2-2, but has a 1.94 ERA, holding the opposition to a ..472 OPS.

Unfortunately, the 4:05 first pitch means Tigers at Mets is one of three games carried as part of FOX's regional coverage. Be aware blackout restrictions will apply. Also, Tigers' color man Rod Allen will be in the booth for FOX.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

C-Mo? More like C-NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Monroe_turnup_medium

Dog_medium

According to FSD, his name is "General Macarfur."

The Mets had to have second thoughts about signing Daisuke Matsuzaka after a rough first inning.

Same after the second inning...

Miguel Cabrera singled in the first, homered in the second and still owns Dice-K.

The single kept alive Cabrera's streak of reaching base, now at 26 straight games. He also reached another milestone with the home run. It was his 362nd career big fly, passing Joe DiMaggio on the all-time list. Cabrera is tied with Todd Helton for 76th all-time.

Numbers via ESPN's Buster Olney, Cabrera is on pace to finish 2013 with 95 extra-base hits, 94 walks, 100 strikeouts and 159 RBIs.

Dan Dickerson, sabermatrician?

Aware he's watching a once in a generation talent on a nightly basis, Dickerson is enjoying Cabrera's season as much as the fans seem to be.

After Austin Jackson went yard in the seventh, Mario Impemba matter-of-factly uttered the two words everyone wants to hear.

"Curly fries."

Because, when it's all said and done, it's about the curly fries.

THREE ROARS:

Doug Fister: The Tall Man earned a quality start by pitching into the seventh, scattering eight hits while allowing just one run. On the down side, Fister's batting average dropped to .400 thanks to an 0-for-2 night.

Torii Hunter: Set the pace for the Tigers against Dice-K with his first inning home run and second inning double, driving in two.

Miguel Cabrera: If there was ever a home run that felt fait accompli before it actually happened, it was when he walked into the batter's box in the second inning. His three run bomb all but ended the game.

BONUS ROAR:

Victor Martinez: Catching for the first time in over two seasons, Martinez had no issues while wearing the tools of ignorance for seven innings. The one Mets' stolen base was more on Fister than Martinez. If Martinez's knees show they can handle occasional catching duties, it will greatly help with positional flexibility in the playoffs.

THREE HISSES:

Craig Monroe's tie: C-Mo is a brave, brave man.

National League style baseball: Bunting in the second inning. Yes, in this case it made sense. Yes, it was a pitcher. Yes, the Tigers scored four runs. Yes, it was the only bunt of the game. But damn, I would have a hard time enjoying baseball night after night when bunting early in the game is a common place, accepted strategy. And don't get me going on pitchers batting.

Dice-K: Matsuzaka is so slow and methodical on the mound, a #BetweenMatsuzakaPitches hash tag became popular on Twitter.

ROLL CALL:

Sorry, gang. The tool we use to come up with our roll call stats is not working tonight.

GAME 127 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Bryan Holaday had the best game of his short career with a home run, single and two RBIs. The rookie backup catcher was rewarded with BYB's PotG, taking 67% of the vote.

More Roars

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