DETROIT--There's nothing quite like your major league debut. And when you're able to escape a self-induced jam in the first inning, good things happen. Robbie Ray had the full support of the Tigers with plenty of run support and a hawk perched above the camera well in center field for added protection.
The ability of Robbie Ray to hold runners on base was solid. And after allowing the first two batters to reach in the first inning, Ray struck out the next two consecutive batters in swing-worthy fashion. With runners at the corners he got Castro to fly out to center field to finish the inning, and keep the Astros from inflicting damage.
Ray pitched to near perfection Tuesday night. He allowed only one extra-base hit, the leadoff batter Jose Altuve in the first inning. Astros batters were often left standing in the batter's box upon striking out looking as if they weren't sure what had happened to them. Other times, the Astros swung so violently they nearly spun around completely trying to put the ball in play; but to no avail.
In 5 ⅓ innings pitched Ray allowed just five hits, issued one walk in the fifth inning, and he struck out five. He retired 10 consecutive batters before he issued the walk. The one earned run Ray came as a result of a fielder's choice, courtesy of the Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.
He failed to glove a popup hit by Chris Carter and with runners at the corners, Dexter Fowler tagged and scored for the one and only run that Ray allowed in his debut. The run was earned. Ray finished the night having thrown 86 pitches, and 64% of those he threw were for strikes.
The Tigers however could not be stopped. In keeping with the theme that the team likes hitting particularly when the weather is favorable, it was an all out hit parade at Comerica Park. And no better way than to get things kicked off with a monster home run by Miguel Cabrera in the first inning.
The only thing to sour that sweet swing which put the ball into the visiting bullpen was when Torii Hunter forgot that he was not exactly a speed demon on the bases. He was out when he tried to steal third base. Instead of what should have been a 2-run homer, Cabrera settled for a solo shot. But Hunter later redeemed himself in the third inning when he drove in the second run of the night with a sacrifice fly to center field.
The Tigers would continue to play smart ball and add another run in the third with an RBI single by Victor Martinez and a sacrifice fly to right field by Danny Worth in the fourth which plated Austin Jackson. Cabrera would drive in a run with a sharp line drive RBI single in the seventh to score Ian Kinsler and a sacrifice fly by J.D. Martinez brought Hunter home.
The eighth inning proved to be even more fruitful when the Tigers tacked five more runs and sent the entire order to the plate. Worth hit a 2-run RBI single, Cabrera smoked a 2-run RBI double, and J.D. Martinez got his first hit of the night and drove in the fifth run on a single line drive RBI to right field which made the score 11-1 in favor of the Tigers.
Kinsler went 3-5 on the evening, Hunter, Castellanos and Avila all went 2-4, Worth was 2-3 and Cabrera put up a solid 4-5 record for the evening. Cabrera is now hitting .293 with 23 RBI and he smacked his third home run of the season. Combined, the Tigers top of the order was 9-14 with five runs and five RBIs.
The only downside of the night, if you could call it that, was the ninth inning when Justin Miller took the mound for the Tigers. He allowed two singles and a double which added three runs to a doomed game for the Astros. But Miller eventually got it together and made Marwin Gonzalez strike out swinging to end the game.