The Detroit Tigers took an early 6-0 lead, then withstood a five run rally with Justin Verlander on the mound. The bullpen did their job in maintaining a two run lead, allowing the Tigers wrap up a three game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 7-5 victory.
The Tigers eight game road winning streak is tied for the fifth longest in franchise history. The last time Detroit accomplished the feat was in May of 2006.
Verlander (5-2) pitched six innings to earn the win. He was solid for five of the six, but was roughed up for five runs and four hits in the fifth. The Tigers' ace ended his day having allowed five runs on six hits, striking out four and walking five.
The Tigers' bullpen did yeoman's work over the last two games, not allowing a run in six combined innings. Today, four Detroit relievers shut out the Orioles over the final three innings, Joe Nathan earning save number ten on the season.
The Orioles were forced to use five arms on the day, as rookie phenom Kevin Gausman was knocked around for five runs and six hits in just four innings. Miguel Gonzalez, the first of four O's relievers, served up two run in two innings, giving the Tigers their winning margin.
Detroit's offense was led by the bottom of the order. The seven through nine hitters, Don Kelly, Bryan Holaday and Danny Worth, were 5-for-11 with a walk, three RBIs, four runs scored and a successful squeeze bunt. Rajai Davis added a home run and two RBIs, Miguel Cabrera also driving in pair.
The Tigers bounced back from losing a home series to sweeping the first three games of a ten day, nine game road trip. It's only mid-May, but the Tigers are a season high 12 games over .500, their record topping MLB at 24-12, .667. The Tigers are now an MLB best 11-4 on the road, raising their record to 10-3 in the month of May.
Post game, the topic du jour was the purpose pitch by Verlander to Cruz.
Manager Brad Asumus was asked for his "view" on the pitch.
"My view was from the dugout."
When asked to elaborate, Ausmus threw in a dig at Bud Norris.
"As skilled as pitchers are at this level, balls get away. Just like I'm sure it did for Bud Norris."
. When asked if there was a message sent, Verlander was succinct in his replies about the pitch.
Asked if there was an exchange with Cruz after the home run, Verlander said with a smile...
In the end, Ausmus was just happy to get the Hell out of Baltimore with three wins.
"We'll get out of town before they decide to add a fourth game to the series."
The Orioles will have to wait more than a year if they feel a need to retaliate. Today was the season finale between the two teams.
Seems as if almost every Tigers' game as of late is a pitcher's duel. When you have elite starting pitching and an offense which is still finding it's way, it's to be expected.
That's just how the the day began, both Justin Verlander and Orioles' phenom Kevin Gausman tossing scoreless frames in the first and second.
But when the third inning rolled around and Gausman faced the Tigers' lineup a second time, the bats began to figure out the hard throwing right-hander.
The bottom of the Tigers' order was equal to a Jim Leyland Sunday lineup, but the backups kicked started a rally. Bryan Holaday became the first Tiger to reach base, beating out a infield single. Danny Worth followed with a clean single to right. Two down, Ian Kinsler drilled a hard one-hopper off the foot of Gausman, good for an infield single while loading the bases for last night's hero, Miguel Cabrera.
Cabrera didn't homer this time. But he did reach down to golf an ankle-high fastball to left field,for a two out, two run single. For the first time in the series, the Tigers had drawn first blood, up 2-0 (MLB.com video).
While Verlander was holding the Orioles to one hit over three innings, the Tigers were extending their lead against Gausman with some very aggressive base running.
Austin Jackson on first and one down, Guasman was unable to stop Don Kelly, walking him. Holaday at the plate, the Tigers pulled off the double steal, Jackson beating Steve Clevenger's throw to third.
Holaday made the Orioles pay with a single to center, Jackson scoring. Dave Clark
Five proved he could also stop Kelly, who got a bad jump and was forced to hold at third.
Runners on the corners for Danny Worth, Brad Asumus pulled the squeeze bunt out the playbook. The Tigers masterfully pulled the bunt off, Kelly scoring as Worth beat Gausman to the bag for his second hit of the game.
The Tigers now up 4-0, Gausman's wild pitch advanced Holaday to third. That would cost the O's another run, Rajai Davis driving in Holaday with a sacrifice fly.
By the time Gausman got out of a very long inning, his pitch count was an elevated 87, and the Tigers had scored three runs on two hits, two walks, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly.
Up 5-0, Verlander decided to send a message to the Orioles and Nelson Cruz with one out in bottom of the fourth. Davis on first with a walk, Verlander threw a fastball behind Cruz.
It was a two for the price of one moment for Verlander, as he has history with Cruz going back to the 2011 ALCS.
Remember when Cruz homered off JV in the LCS with Texas, then made the "100" gestures? Remember Norris/ Hunter? Two birds- one stone.— Patrick OKennedy (@Tigerdog_1) May 14, 2014
Home plate umpire John Tumpane immediately issued warnings to everyone, putting a stop to what had been a series full of purpose pitches.
Verlander having got his messages across, he would go on to get out of the inning unscathed.
The Tigers were still up 5-0 as the game entered the fifth. But the Detroit would not be facing the Orioles' phenom, Buck Showalter ending his day after four innings, calling on right-handed reliever Miguel Gonzalez.
Gausman's first 2014 appearance started off well, retiring the first six batters he faced. But his day went downhill fast. He went four innings, allowing five runs on six hits, walking two and striking out a pair.
The Tigers would threaten against Gonzalez, putting runner on first and second with one out. Kelly would extend the Tigers' lead to 6-0 with a two out single plating Martinez.
The game felt as if it was in the bag. But you could make the case the earlier purpose pitch backfired, as the Oriles' bats came alive.
The score 6-2, Cruz got his revenge with Verlander just one strike away from getting out of the inning. The Tigers' nemesis reached down to golf a breaking over the left field fence. The three run bomb was Cruz's 11th one the season, the Orioles suddenly finding themselves right back in the game by cutting the Tigers' lead to 6-5.
Top of six, Davis muscled up with two down to give the Tigers a slight cushion. He took Gonzalez deep, his high fly ball landing a few rows deep in the left field stands. Davis' solo shot was his third home run of the season, giving the the Tigers an insurance run at 7-5 (MLB.com video).
The Tigers' bullpen was stirring as Verlander's pitch count stood at 98 entering the bottom half of the sixth. But bullpen roulette would be put on hold for an inning. The Tigers' ace bouncing back from an awful fifth to retire the side in order on just 12 pitches.
The Tigers would again threaten in the seventh, Martinez the elder singling off Orioles' reliever Ryan Webb then pulling off a delayed steal of second. That's where the sneaky Martinez would remain, Jackson striking out to end the inning.
Al Alburquerque has been seeing plenty of duty as of late, his appearance today his fourth in five games. He replaced Verlander in the seventh
Al-Al got the first two outs fairly easily, but Jones beat out a swinging bunt to extend the inning. Playing matchups, Ausmus wanted a lefty to face Chris Davis. Ian Krol got the assignment, as it sure as Hell wasn't going to be Phil Coke.
Davis tried to beat the shift by going the other way. But Krol busted him with a pitch on the fists, resulting in an ground ball right at Kelly (who was stationed at short), ending the inning.
Joba Chamberlain took over in the eighth, and much like in his Sunday appearance, found himself in a jam. One down, he gave up back-to-back singles to Hardy and Clevenger. Two down, Chamberlain went to a full count on David Lough before walking him on a borderline breaking ball ruled high.
The bases were loaded for Nick Markakis, who had yet to reach base in the series. You can make it 0-for-16 on the series. Markakis hit the ball hard, but right at Jackson. Chamberlain had wriggled out of a bases loaded jam, sending the Tigers into the ninth inning with a 7-5 lead.
Brian Matusz, the fifth O's pitcher of the day, tossed a scoreless ninth. Tigers' closer Joe Nathan would enter the game with a two run lead and in need of three outs against the meat of the O's order - Machado, Jones and Davis.
Nathan appeared to get squeezed with two outs. Davis somehow gotthis pitch for ball three, leading to a base on balls
That brought the ever dangerous Cruz to the plate as the tying run. Nathan shrugged off the questionable call on the previous at bat, Cruz bouncing to short to end the game.
SWEEP! Tigers 7, Orioles 5. pic.twitter.com/qg7OjNze8h— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
Nope RT @Tigerdog_1: Your Detroit Tigers just swept the first place team in the AL's east division. Any more questions?— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
Getaway Day means the Tigers have a day off before they return to Fenway Park on Friday for the first time since (several expletives deleted).
The Red Sox have juggled their rotation during their current series with the Twins in order to get Jake Peavy a start in three the game series with Detroit. But for Friday's series opener, the BoSox will have Jon Lester facing Max Scherzer. Game two will be John Lackey taking on Rick Porcello. The matchup for Sunday night's nationally televised series finale is expected to be Peavy and Anibal Sanchez, who will be making his first start for Detroit after suffering a blister two weeks ago.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Brad Ausmus was as flabbergasted as the rest of when Ian Kinsler was punched out on a pitch below his knees in the first inning.
Ausmus reaction to the called strike 3: #smh— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 14, 2014
Joba Chamberlain is having way too much fun. More than he did as a Yankee, as Danny Worth's thighs can attest.
Joba Chamberlain is a "quirky lefty" without being left-handed.— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) May 14, 2014
Meanwhile in Toledo...
YIKES. Daniel Fields hit by pitch to start 6th. Will have to leave the game. DOUBLE YIKES. @MudHens don't have a position player available.— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) May 14, 2014
Streaks and stats:
- A third inning two RBI single raised Miguel Cabrera's career batting average with the bases loaded to .417 (58-for-139). He also has four home runs and 150 RBI with the bases juiced.
- Cabrera also has 28 RBIs in his last 20 games. His 20 RBI in May tops MLB.
- Justin Verlander's rocky fifth inning ended a 15 game streak of great starting pitching. Today is the first time a Tigers starter has allowed more than three runs in a start since April 25.
- The double steal in the fourth was the Tigers' 33rd and 34th stolen bases of the season. When Victor Martinez swiped second in the seventh, the Tigers had equaled their 2013 season steal total of 35.
- Via the News' Tom Gage, Martinez's steal was his first he's stolen in 670 career road games.
- Joe Nathan has not allowed a run in nine straight appearances, converting nine straight save opportunities. Over his last 12 games Nathan has a 0.75 ERA with 12 strikeouts.
- The Tigers swept the Orioles in Baltimore for the first time since May 27-29, 2005.
Bryan Holaday: The Tigers' backup catcher got his first start in six days. Made the most of it with two hits, two runs scored and an RBI.
Rajai Davis: Scuffling badly in May, Davis hopefully broke out of a slump with a sacrifice fly and a solo home run, driving in a pair.
Danny Worth: Perfectly pulled off one of the most exciting plays in baseball, the squeeze bunt.
The bullpen: Al Alburquerque, Ian Krol, Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan combined to shut out the Orioles over the final three innings.
Knowing when to let sleeping dogs lie: Instead of making a point by throwing behind Nelson Cruz, all Justin Verlander did was tick the Orioles off. They proceeded to go 5-for-10 with a walk after Verlander buzzed Cruz, the O's scoring five times.
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|5||Toivo||Greetings from the U.P.|
|5||Bent82||Eat it, Cruz!|
|4||Fielder'sChoice||Don Kelly being upset:|
|2||J_the_Man||Just takin' out the trash at this point|
GAME 35 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Miguel Cabrera smoked the competition like he smoked Tommy Hunter's hanging curve ball in the ninth, taking the PotG with 94% of the vote.