Rangers 9, Tigers 2: Battered pitching staff takes it on the chin, season worst losing streak reaches four

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers dominated, scoring seven runs in the first four innings off Robbie Ray and cruised to an easy win. The lone Tigers' highlight was knuckleballing shortstop Danny Worth stepping in for an exhausted bullpen, pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

The Detroit Tigers' worst stretch of baseball this season continued unabated, their losing streak reaching a season high four games in a 9-2 blowout loss to the Texas Rangers.

As expected, the Tigers announced post-game rookie starting pitcher Robbie Ray would be optioned to Triple-A Toledo. The team will purchase the contract of right-handed relief pitcher Corey Knebel from Triple-A Toledo prior to tomorrow's game.

The Tigers' offense went from sublime to the ridiculous in the course of 24 hours. Then again, Yu Darvish (W, 4-2) makes most offenses look ridiculous. After battering Indians' pitching for ten runs and 15 hits, Darvish held the Tigers' bats in check, allowing two runs on six hits over seven innings.

"There's not a team in the league that doesn't go through a stretch like this." -Brad Ausmus

Ray (L, 1-1) was originally going be sent down last weekend after filling in for Anibal Sanchez, but remained on Tigers' roster due to a lingering injury to Rick Porcello. In what was his final start before heading back to join the Mud Hens rotation, Ray was baptized with his first big league loss.  The Rangers battered the rookie lefty for seven runs and nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings.

An exhausted Tigers' bullpen was forced to pitch another 4 1/3 innings after 5 2/3 yesterday. Things got so dire, rather than push for another inning out of a wiped out relief staff, manager Brad Ausmus had shortstop Danny Worth pitch the ninth inning for Detroit. The backup shortstop faced four batters, striking out two and did not allow a run.

The middle of the Rangers' order did most of the damage today. Shin-Soo Choo, Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios combined for six runs scored and five RBIs on four hits, including a Choo home run. Chris Gimenez also had a big day with four singles and an RBI.

The Tigers could manage a mere seven hits off three Rangers' pitchers. Miguel Cabrera had two hits and an RBI. Don Kelly added the Tigers final run with a single.

Danny Worth being needed to pitch in relief, ending up tied with Evan Reed in leading the pitching staff in strikeouts on the day with two, sums up the game in a nutshell.

Both Robbie Ray and Yu Darvish had adventurous, but scoreless, fist innings.

Ray walked the first batter of the game and also allowed a single. But Ray picked off Dan Robertson and Elvis Andrus was caught stealing, the Rangers doing a good job of running themselves out of an inning.

Darvish also allowed a walk and single, but retired Victor Martinez (in a long at-bat) and Don Kelly to pitch out of a one out jam. The Tigers did make work Darvish work, needing 24 pitches to get out of the inning.

Ray found more trouble in the second. This time around he was unable to keep the Rangers off the scoreboard, in what would be the roughest inning of his very young career.

As what often seems to happen, trouble started with a lead off walk. In this case, it was Adrian Beltre. Alex Rios doubled in Beltre to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Ray began alternating outs with base hits. One down, Chris Gimenez singled in Rios to make it 2-0 Texas. Two down, Ray caught a break on Luis Sardinas' drive over Don Kelly's head in left. The liner bounced into the bullpen on one hop, the ground rule double forcing Gimenez to stop at third. Ray took advantage of the break by ending the inning on Robertsons' ground ball, stranding a pair in scoring position.

The Rangers had given Darvish a two run cushion thanks to three hits, two for extra bases. After Detroit pitching gave up 15 extra base hits in the three game series with the Indians (12 in the final two games), two more today made it seem as if singles had become the exception, rather than the rule.

The Tigers hit the ball hard off Darvish in the second, but had nothing to show for it. Line drive outs off the bats of Austin
Jackson and Nick Castellanos sandwiched an Alex Avila walk and Darvish wild pitch. But automatic out Andrew Romine was just that, bouncing to short to strand a runner in scoring position.

The top of the third was more of the same for Ray, immediately pitching himself into a 4-0 hole. Not a good sign when your bullpen is running on fumes.

Elvis Andrus led off the rally with a single, Shin-Soo Choo drawing a walk. Both would score on Beltre's two RBI double into the left field corner.

One out, Ray's day went from bad to worse. Cabrera was unable to handle Mitch Moreland's chopper, the ball rolling into short right. Beltre scored all the way from second, narrowly beating Ina Kinsler's throw home. Brad Ausmus wasted his challenge, replays showing Beltre was safe. Barely, but still safe. Score it an unearned run on an E-3.

Ray loaded the bases, serving up a single to Gimenez and walking Michael Choice. Thankfully, he was bailed out of further trouble when Sardinas bounced into an inning ending double play. But the Tigers were down 5-0 and their bullpen was shot after being overextended in Cleveland.

Expecting a win with Davish on the mound was unlikely. Down runs and Ray getting peppered, unlikely was quickly turning into impossible.

Bottom of the third, Kinsler led off with a Texas Leaguer to short center. Robertson and Rios both left their feet, hoping to make a circus catch. But Rios led with his legs, Robertson diving head-first. The ball dropped safely, but Rios clocked Robertson in the jaw with his knee in the resulting collision.

Kinsler ended up on second with a bloop double while. Robertson appeared to have been knocked cold for a few seconds. The Rangers' center fielder was able to leave the field under his own power, but was replaced by Leonys Martin.

Darvish proceeded to walk Torii Hunter, giving hope the Tigers might get back in the game. Miguel Cabrera followed by smashing a line drive, but directly at Beltre. He fired to second, doubling off a wandering too far off the bag Kinsler. Martinez flew out, ending what had started as a promising inning.

"I (asked) around the fifth inning if he had his pitching spikes on him today." -Ausmus on using Danny Worth as a pitcher

Ray's rocky afternoon came to a merciful end in the fourth. Martin led off with a single, then rode home on Choo's one out home run into the bullpen.

The score 7-0 and Ray doing his best impersonation of a pinata, Ausmus waved the white flag. He pulled his rookie starter, replacing him with Evan Reed. Things didn't improve.

Reed loaded the bases on a pair of singles and another walk. The Rangers pour salt in Detroit's wound when Choice singled to center, plating a pair.

The Rangers ultimately sent nine to plate, scoring four runs on five hits, a walk and a wild pitch, increasing their lead to an insurmountable 9-0. How bad was it looking for the Tigers' beat up and exhausted pitching staff?

Top of five and Phil Coke preparing to pitch in a third consecutive game, Reed loaded the bases with no one out/ He recorded a pair of strikeouts before Brad Ausmus made the call to the bullpen.

It was time for some Coke. Which actually made sense, as this game was over. No better time to use the Human Victory Cigar White Flag.

Coke pitched out of the jam by inducing Moreland into a ground ball to second. YAY for moral victories!

Speaking of waving white flags, in a blink-and-you-missed-it bottom of the fifth , the Tigers went down in order on just seven pitches.

Coke became the first Tigers pitcher to retire the first batter of an inning in the sixth. He then became the only Diderot arm with a 1-2-3 inning. It was official - Down is up and square is round.

Back-to-back doubles off the bats of Hunter and Cabrera finally got the Tigers on scoreboard against Darvish. Don Kelly's one out single to center made it a 9-2 game.

Jackson doubled off the left field fence, but for some reason, Kelly could only advance to third.

Darvish pitched out of further trouble by striking out Avila and inducing a Castellanos pop up.

At that point, both teams were playing out the string with some very quick innings.

Thanks to the recent juggling of the rotation, pushing Rick Porcello to the weekend, Drew Smyly was going to have a couple of extra days off. In need of relief, Ausmus had Smyly take over in the seventh.  He retired the side in order, seven consecutive Rangers batters having taken a seat.

Yesterday's co-goat, balking Al Alburquerque, pitched a scoreless eighth. No balks this time around.

"It may be to the point where we have this guy throw bullpen once in a while, just in case we need him." -Ausmus, saying we may again see Worth on the mound

Top of nine and the Tigers out of arms, shortstop Danny Worth and his dancing knuckleball took the mound.  Worth pounded the strike zone, throwing first pitch strikes to all four batters he faced. The Tigers' backup shortstop was surprisingly effective. Worth allowed a lead off single, then retired the next three batters, two via strikeout.

That was it for anything interesting. The Tigers went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, the Rangers wrapping up a very easy victory.

Game over.

Your final score is Rangers 9, Tigers 2.

As God awful as this game was, at least my afternoon ended with a smile, watching a dominant Danny Worth. I always approve of position players pitching in garbage time.

With that, time to turn the page, forget this game ever happened, and move on.

The Rangers send right-hander Scott Baker to the mound in game two of the weekend series, the Tigers counter with Anibal Sanchez.

"I wish I wasn't out there, but it was a blast!" "It was awesome!" -Danny Worth

Baker takes over for Robbie Ross in the Rangers rotation. Ross moved back to the bullpen after a  posting a 1-4 record in nine starts, which forced the Rangers to for a replacement.  Baker was 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Round Rock. His only 2014 appearance with the Rangers was a 5 1/3 inning, two runs allowed relief stint on May 7. If you were wondering, this is the same Scott Baker who was a stalwart of the Minnesota Twins' rotation from 2006-11. But his career was derailed by 2012 Tommy John surgery.

In his first start after a stint on the 15-day DL, Sanchez showed signs of rust, but pitched more than well enough to beat the Boston Red Sox and win his first game of the season . Held to a limited workload, the Tigers' number three starter tossed 80 pitches in five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and five hits.

Tigers were forced to deal with oddball start times in their last two games. Thankfully, Friday's first pitch at Comerica Park is scheduled for the usual 7:08 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Streaks and stats:

After a streak of seemingly endless excellent starting pitching, the Tigers' rotation has not had a quality start in their last five games.

The last four games have been uncharacteristically rocky for the Tigers' rotation: Drew Smyly - 3 R, 5 IP. Justin Verlander - 5 R, 6 IP. Max Scherzer - 7 R, 7 IP. Robbie Ray - 7 R, 3 1/3 IP.

The last time the Tigers went through a similar rough patch of bad starting pitching was during the nightmarish home series against the Athletics, the losing 3-of-4 last August. Anibal Sanchez, Verlander and Doug Fister were rocked for 16 runs and 22 hits, all three starters pulled after five innings.

Ian Kinsler's third inning double gives him an eight game hitting streak. The Tigers didn't win the game, but they are winning the trade.

Danny Worth is the first Tigers position player to pitch at least one full inning since Willie Smith on Sept. 25, 1963. Don Kelly's 2011 outing was just 1/3 of an inning.

THREE ROARS:

Phil Coke: Four up, four down, three outs via ground balls. Where was this Coke yesterday?!

Miguel Cabrera: The only Tiger with two hits off Darvish. His 41st RBI of the season pulls him to within one of the AL lead.

Danny Worth: Have the Tigers found their new closer? OK, I'm joking. But Worth's knuckler was impressive in pitching the ninth, allowing one single, striking out two and keeping the Rangers off the scoreboard. It was a much needed inning of levity in a miserable afternoon.

THREE HISSES:

Robbie Ray: The rookie learned it's not as easy to be a big league pitcher as it first seemed. Ray was excellent in his first two outings, but reality caught up with the young left-hander this afternoon. The Rangers raked Ray over the coals for seven runs, nine hits and four walks in just 3 1/3 innings. Ray's ERA leaped nearly three points, from 0.75 to 3.52. This outing should end talk of keeping Ray in the rotation and sending Drew Smyly to the bullpen.

Andrew Romine: Watching him be completely overwhelmed at the plate is sad to see. Since a three hit game on May 4, Romine entered today's game hitting .067/.097/.067. That's 2-for-30 with one walk, a .163 OPS over 11 games. His hitless streak reached 0-for-19 over six games with an 0-for-3 day.  Talk about taking the term "no-hit/good field" to an extreme. Adding that he committed an error this afternoon just feels like piling on.

Afternoon baseball on a Thursday: I know some folks love it. But having back-to-back odd afternoon start times can throw you for a loop.

ROLL CALL:

Total comments 473
Total commenters 45
Commenter list Alex Baker, BadCompany22, Bent82, BigAl, BigMaxN, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, Fielder'sChoice, FrogTownFan, Grzesio, Honeyman, J_the_Man, Jacob30, MSUDersh, Macabre215, NCDee, Naqamel, Naysayer N San Diego, Nonsuch Ned, Parisian Tiger, Rafael Tigers, Rob Rogacki, ShowingBunt, SpartanHT, Tigers, Lions, and Wings...Oh my!, Toivo, TomduhB, dand3, dimes5, dishnet34, dominator039, ja_zz, japobere, jgrubbs, jsara18, knucklescarbone, longview, matts1022, momotigers, snizo, stevenyc, subic sailor, swish330, texastigerfan, zkello
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2014/5/22/5741148/game-43-tigers-vs-rangers-1-08-p-m

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 texastigerfan 95
2 Parisian Tiger 61
3 Fielder'sChoice 28
4 DJ Screw 24
5 jgrubbs 24
6 knucklescarbone 19
7 Alex Baker 18
8 Rafael Tigers 18
9 japobere 15
10 Toivo 15

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
7 japobere That totally made this game
3 Alex Baker YOU DON'T STEAL ON THE TIGERS
3 Alex Baker YOU DON'T STEAL ON THE TIGERS (repeated)
1 texastigerfan all Avila needs... chasing knuckle balls...
1 texastigerfan DK is upset that he is already in the game and not getting to pitch..
1 Designated for Assignment See, this game is "worth" watching to the bitter end

GAME 41 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Alex Avila earns a second consecutive PotG nod thanks to his 13th inning home run which gave the Tigers a lead which...on second thought, let's just forget the bottom of the 13th ever happened.

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