The Detroit Tigers extended their winning streak to five games and road winning streak to ten with a 6-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Tonight's win guaranteed the Tigers a series win in Boston for the first time since 2006. Detroit looks to wrap up a three game sweep of the Red Sox on national television Sunday night.
Rick Porcello won his sixth straight game, tying him for the major league lead in victories with seven. Porcello allowed just one run and six hits over eight innings, striking out four while walking only one.
Red Sox starter John Lackey was knocked around by the Tigers early and often, allowing six runs, five earned, on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. Of the nine hits, six were for extra bases.
For the second straight night, both bullpens did not allow a run. The Red Sox got 3 2/3 scoreless innings from three relievers. The Tigers recorded a scoreless ninth from Phil Coke, giving the Detroit bullpen 15 innings without a run on the current road trip.
The Tigers had 11 hits on the night, seven for extra bases. Eight of the nine Detroit starters had at least one base hit. Miguel Cabrera led the offense with a home run, double and single, driving in a pair and scoring a run. Ian Kinsler, Torii Hunter, Alex Avila and Rajai Davis all had RBIs for Detroit. Victor Martinez also chipped in with two hits and a run scored.
The Tigers have started another winning streak, tonight being their fifth consecutive victory. The numbers are piling up and they're scary good.
- 26-12, .684 on the season.
- 6 1/2 game lead in the Central, eight games up in the loss column.
- 20-7 since April 17
- 7-3 over their last ten
- 12-3 in May
- Better on the road than at home, 13-4 to 13-8.
- 10 straight road wins, including three over a first place Orioles team and two at the always difficult Fenway
The Tigers are steamrolling the opposition, a runaway freight train no one has been able to stop. Sure, they can be slowed down, as the Twins did last weekend.
But with absolutely lights out starting pitching, timely hitting, honest to God speed on the bases, improved defense and a bullpen starting to find their sea legs, who is going to outright stop them?
An uneventful first inning led to an eventful second!
The Red Sox tried to employ the shift against Victor Martinez, who was swinging lefty against Boston starter John Lackey. Martinez recognized the utter ridiculousness of leaving third base empty and slapped the first pitch he saw through the open spot in the infield.
Last night Alex Avila struck out in a bases loaded situation (thanks to a strike zone as wide as Rhode Island). Tonight he got the bat on the ball, but Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop on a ground ball to the right side. Pedroia was able to get the out at second, but Avila beat the relay and earned an RBI as Martinez crossed the plate.
The Tigers were unable to put more of a hurt on Lackey, who would pitch out of further trouble. Andrew Romine's horrible struggles at the plate continued with a strikeout. Rajai Davis' regression parade progressed unabated with a can of corn to center to end the inning. But the Tigers had produced first blood for the second straight game in Boston, up 1-0.
Porcello did his job, shutting down the Red Sox in the bottom of the second. He got help from Ian Kinsler, who started a slick double play by tagging Mike Napoli as he went by, then tossing to first to retire Grady Sizemore.
Two down in the top of the third, Miguel Cabrera took great advantage of Fenway Park's Little League dimensions down the line. He wrapped a lazy fly ball around the Pesky Pole in right to push the Tigers' lead to 2-0. The solo shot was home run number seven and RBI number 35 (MLB.com video).
ADIOOOOOS, PELOTAAAA! Miguel Cabrera conecta para solo HR al jardín derecho! Tigres arriba 2-0 en tercera entrada. #tigers— Tigres de Detroit (@TigresdeDetroit) May 17, 2014
Porcello was treating the Red Sox like he treated Kevin Youkilis back in the day. He allowed his second hit, an infield single to Xander Bogaerts, in an otherwise easy inning. Pedroia ended the third on a soft, looping liner to Cabrera, who felt the need to stroll over to the first base bag, stepping on it for the mythical fourth out of the inning.
Porcello found his first bit of trouble in the bottom of the fourth. After a strikeout of Shane Victorino, Davis Ortiz and Mike Napoli reached on back-to-back singles (Ortiz's was a loud liner off the Green Monster scoreboard). Two out, Porcello loaded the bases by walking Sizemore.
The free pass earned Porcello a mound visit from Jeff Jones. There was no need for a throat punch, but whatever Jones said worked. Porcello retired A.J. Pierzynski on a slow roller to second, stranding three while maintaining the Tigers' 2-0 advantage.
It only took three pitches for the Tigers to extend their lead to 4-0 in the fifth. One down, Kinsler drilled Lackey's first pitch into the right center field gap for a two base hit. Hunter turned on the very next pitch, lining an RBI double down the left field line (MLB.com video). Cabrera jumped on Lackey's third straight first pitch fastball, sending an RBI single to center.
In a little more than a minute, the Tigers had teed off on Lackey and scored twice.
Martinez smoked a liner, but Pedroia robbed him of a single with a diving catch for the second out. Jackson had the Tigers' third extra base hit of the inning, doubling to left, Cabrera advancing to third.
Two on and two out, Castellanos had a chance to break the game wide open with a base hit. Instead, he popped up to end the inning. But the Tigers had scored two runs on four hits, giving Porcello a nice four run cushion.
Bogaerts immediately got one of the runs back with a leadoff solo homer over the Green Monster, cutting the Tigers' lead to 4-1. The Red Sox's first run of the game was also their first of the series. Tigers' pitching had shutout the defending World Champs for 13 innings before the home run. But if you want to get technical...
Bogaerts homers, Red Sox snap 7-month scoreless streak vs Tigers.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 18, 2014
Porcello allowed a one out single to Pedroia, but disappointed the Boston crowd by retiring the next two Red Sox he faced, ending the inning with a K of Ortiz. The Fenway Park crowd deflated like a pin had been stuck in a balloon.
Top of the six, Avila led off and saw the shift. So he followed Martinez's lead. Lackey threw a not-smart pitch, an outside fastball which Avila slapped down the left field line for a double.
Romine was 3/4 of the way to his Golden Sombrero, striking out for the third straight at-bat, the last two taking the minimum six pitches. Thankfully for the Tigers, the slumping Davis seems to be a completely different hitter with runners in scoring position. He picked up Romine with another first pitch double off Lackey, Avila crossing the plate as the ball rattled off left field scoreboard (MLB.com video).
The Red Sox had seen more than enough of the Tigers battering Lakey's offerings, Edward Mujica taking over in relief.
Mujica decided he was absolutely NOT going to let Davis steal third, be there Hell or high water. So things got very silly, very quickly. Before Mujica threw even one pitch, he tried to pick off the speedy Davis three times.
After taking a pick-off break by throwing a pitch to Kinsler, Mujica learned the fourth time is not the charm.
The throw was perfect ... if Mujica wanted to decapitate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. The laughably bad pick-off attempt allowed Davis to take third base. But it wasn't a steal, so Mujica accomplished his goal.
The throwing error would give back another run. Kinsler made it a 6-1 game with a sacrifice fly to center. That would wrap up the scoring on the night.
An efficient Porcello entered the bottom of the seventh with a pitch count of 87 and a 6-1 lead. He ended the seventh inning with a pitch count of 100 and a 6-1 lead.
The Tigers up five runs, Brad Ausmus allowed Porcello to take the mound in the bottom of the eighth. But he did have Al Alburquerque warming up. So was Phil Coke, who was on Ortiz duty, being the slugging DH was due up in the inning. He wasn't needed, as Porcello wrapped up a great outing by setting the side down in order on ten pitches, retiring the last 11 Red Sox he faced.
Top of nine and Red Sox closer Koji Uehara getting some work in, Cabrera doubled with two out, his third hit of the game. Martinez almost gave the Tigers an extra insurance run, but Sizemore ran down his drive to right center on the warning track.
The Tigers broke out their Human Victory Cigar for the ninth inning, Coke making only his third appearance in May. Of course, Napoli led off with a single.
But there would be no cries of "DFA" tonight. Helped by a nice defensive play by Castellanos, Coke was able to retire the next three batters in order.
10 victorias consecutivas en camino para los Tigres! Detroit vence Boston 6-1 en segundo juego de serie. #tigers— Tigres de Detroit (@TigresdeDetroit) May 18, 2014
Your final score is Tigers 6, Red Sox 1, road winning streak 10.
They say pitching wins championships. Even with Doug Fister now in Washington, the Tigers still have championship level pitching, as the Red Sox have found out over the past two games.
The Red Sox had one of the highest runs-per-game average last year. In 18 innings against DET this year, they've scored once.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 18, 2014
Sunday night's nationally televised series finale features a pair of veteran starters. The Tigers' Anibal Sanchez returns to the rotation after a stint on the 15-day DL with a lacerated finger. The Red Sox juggled their rotation earlier in the week to ensure Jake Peavy would face Detroit this weekend.
April showers didn't bring May flowers for Peavy, who is 0-1 with a 5.94 ERA in three starts this month. Peavy didn't earn a decision in his last appearance, an 8-6 loss to the Twins, but was rocked for nine hits and six runs over 4 1/3 innings.
Sanchez's last appearance was back on April 26, pulled after 2 2/3 hitless innings against the Twins due to developing a blister so severe, it required a three week visit to the disabled list.
Thanks to the game being shown on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, first pitch at Fenway Park is set for 8:05 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Whenever Rick Porcello pitches at Fenway, the law requires this video must be posted:
The Red Sox were forced to make a lineup change thanks to Ian Kinsler. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks was placed on the 15-day disabled list today, as Kinsler broke his right index finger with a line drive in Friday night's first inning. The Red Sox called up a replacement from Triple-A Pawtucket, Brock Holt (who has a name more fitting for a 70's action show than baseball).
A difference in batting philosophies took place with two out in the top of the fourth. Alex Avila fell behind in the count 0-2 to John Lackey. He then undertook an epic battle, finally working a ten pitch base on balls. The next batter was Andrew Romine. He fell behind Lackey 0-2, then struck out swinging on the third pitch. Avila's OBP went up to .343, Romine's dropped to .286. Yet there's a significant portion of Detroit's fan base who want to bench the player who has the third best OBP in tonight's lineup. Of course, most of them seem to be either sports talk radio callers or hang out in newspaper article comments.
In the words of a wise sailor man, Tony Paul of the Detroit News has had all he can stand, he can stand no more!
If I hear one more Avila hater, I'm gonna lose it. Dude can catch -- and oh, has a higher OBP than Kinsler, Hunter; right behind Miggy, AJ.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) May 18, 2014
A weird play took place in the bottom of the eighth, on a swinging bunt Shane Victorino was called out for ... who knows? Porcello, Victorino and the ball all arrived at the same place on the first base line, the ball rolling foul.
But home plate umpire Clint Fagan called Victorino out for what appeared to be interference. The Red Sox were understandably upset, Porcello given an unassisted putout on the play.
Streaks and stats:
- Martinez's second inning single extended his latest hitting streak to seven games. He's had at least one base hit in 18-of-19 games.
- Miguel Cabrera's third inning home run was the 372nd of his career. He's two shy of tying former Tigers and Indians slugger Rocky Colavito for 72nd in MLB history. Adding on his RBI single in the fifth, Cabrera now has a league leading 30 RBI dating back to April 22.
- Thanks to his sixth inning RBI double, Rajai Davis is hitting .393 with 11 RBI with runners in scoring position.
- Kinsler's sacrifice fly in the sixth the Tigers' 20th of the season, which leads the AL.
- Over his last four starts, Rick Porcello has a 1.95 ERA with 17 strikeouts and only three walks. He's won a career high six consecutive games. His seventh win of the season ties Porcello for the AL lead.
- Porcello's ERA now at 2.91, the member of the starting rotation with the highest ERA is Justin Verlander at 3.15.
- We often forget Porcello is only 25-years-old, Tonight, Kid Rick won his 68th career game. Only four active pitchers had more wins by the age of 26, all have made multiple All-Star appearances, three of them own Cy Young awards - King Felix Hernandez 86; Clayton Kershaw 77; C.C. Sabathia 76; Mark Buehrle 69.
- The bullpen has still not allowed a run on the road trip. Phil Coke pitched the ninth, extending the bullpen's five game scoreless streak to 15 innings.
- Tonight's win clinched Detroit's first winning series at Fenway Park since August 14-16, 2006.
- The Tigers' road winning streak is now in double digits at ten games.
Rick Porcello: Another marvelous outing for Porcello, allowing just one run and six hits over eight innings in a stadium not much bigger than a sandbox. His ERA on the season dropped under 3.00, now at 2.91.
Miguel Cabrera: Just another game for Miggy with three hits, one a home run, a run scored and two RBIs.
Victor Martinez: Just another game for V-Mart with two hits, one a double, and a run scored.
Phil Coke: He kept the bullpen's scoreless streak alive. That's gotta count for something when you're called the Human Victory Cigar.
Andrew Romine: The only starter without a base hit, Romine's Golden Sombrero lowered his slash line to a brutal .197/.278/.211. I'm all for a defense first shortstop, but a even a defense first big league player has to supply some semblance of offense. Romine isn't a good enough defender to tolerate his rapidly deteriorating bat. HookSlide was on the @BlessYouBoys Twitter tonight, and I think he sums up everyone's feelings on the shortstop position.
I'd love to be #TeamRomine, but he's making a really good case tonight why he shouldn't be the starting shortstop after the All-Star Break.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 18, 2014
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
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GAME 37 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Neither the Red Sox or rain could stop Max Scherzer from racking up a 1-0 shutout victory or winning the PotG balloting with 66% of the vote.