After taking a day off from bashing baseballs in Monday's low scoring win, tonight the Tigers hit like they were back in Kansas City. Detroit was up 11-1 at one point, ending their night with a season high 18 hits. Every starter was credited with at least one base hit for the fifth time this season.
The Tigers needed a spot starter thanks to Anibal Sanchez's finger laceration. Young Robbie Ray, the centerpiece of the controversial Doug Fister deal, got the nod. Ray may not have vindicated Dave Dombrowski with one performance, but you had to believe he smiled just a tad as Ray earned a win in his big league debut. The rookie left-hander held the Astros to just one run on five hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking only one. Evan Reed and Al Alburquerque held the Astros' scoreless, but Justin Miller was dinged for three ninth inning runs, dooming the Tigers' run differential on the night.
Brett Oberholtzer took the loss for the Astros, though it was their bullpen who would cave in late. Oberholtzer allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings of work. But three Astros' relievers would be knocked silly, serving up seven runs and nine hits over the final two innings.
The ritual clubbing of the Astros was led by Miguel Cabrera's four hits, two runs and a season high four RBIs. Danny Worth drove in three runs on two hits, scoring twice. The outfielder who didn't fit in the Astros' plans, J.D. Martinez, drove in a pair of runs with a sacrifice fly and single. Ian Kinsler added three hits, scoring twice.
George Springer had a big night for the Astros with three hits. Dexter Fowler added a pair of hits and scored a run.
Things couldn't be going any better for the Tigers. They own the best record in baseball and increased their lead in the AL Central to five games. Cabrera broke out in a huge way with four hits and four RBIs. The cherry on top was Ray showing the potential to be a good major league pitcher.
It's just one Ray start, and we need to keep expectations under control. But maybe Dave Dombrowski knows more about baseball than the pundits would have had you believe. At the very least, we got a short glimpse of the pitcher the Tigers believe Ray can become.
Robbie Ray's debut got off to a bumpy start, even if he didn't allow a hard hit ball.
A bloop double off the bat of lead off man Eddie Gaedel...uh, rather, Jose Altuve, immediately had the rookie in a bit of a jam. Miguel Cabrera fielded Dexter Fowler's bouncer to the right side, but the speedy outfielder just beat Ray to the bag, credited with an infield single.
Runners on the corners and no one out, Ray performed like a veteran Tigers' starter. How? He missed bats. The young lefty struck out Jason Castro and Chris Carter. Danny Worth handled Jesus Guzman's grounder to short, ending the inning.
Ray preformed admirably after facing big league adversity for the first time. But he needed 23 pitches to retire the side.
One out in the bottom of the first, Torii Hunter's hitting streak reached 13, doubling to left. But for some unfathomable reason, he tried to steal third with Miguel Cabrera at the plate. He was out by ten feet.
Of course, Cabrera would then pound a Brett Oberholtzer off-speed pitch over the fence in deep left center. His third home run of the season gave the Tigers a 1-0 advantage (MLB.com video). Should have been 2-0, but...
George Springer beat out a chopper to the left side, leading off the second with the Astros' third hit. Not one of them had been hit hard and only one left the infield. Ray shrugged out the singled and retired the side in order. His pitch count stood at 35, thanks to needing just 12 to get through the second.
The Robbie Ray show reached the third inning, the Tigers still up 1-0. The rookie came through with his first 1-2-3 inning, six Astros now having gone down in order.
The Tigers would load the bases against Oberholtzer in the bottom half of the third, back-to-back-to-back singles from Alex Avila, Danny Worth and Ian Kinsler loaded the bases for Hunter. Not needing to steal a base this time, Hunter did his job with a sacrifice fly to center, Avila crossing the plate to give the Tigers a 2-0 advantage.
Jose Altuve ranged to the shortstop side of second base to rob Cabrera of a single for the second out. If only he were 5' tall instead of 5' 1".
Contain Victor Martinez? HA! Stop Victor Martinez? NEVER.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 7, 2014
The volcanic hot Victor Martinez ripped a single to left, extending his hitting streak to nine games and the Tigers' lkead to 3-0.
Meanwhile, Ray had settled in nicely. After a scoreless fourth inning, Ray had allowed just three hits on 58 pitches, struck out five and had retired nine straight.
Back-to-back singles from Austin Jackson and Nick Castellanos got the Astros' bullpen stirring. Jackson would just up and manufacture the fourth run off Oberholtzer by stealing third and scoring on Worth's sacrifice fly.
The Tigers had given Ray a 4-0 lead, and he was going to make the most of it. His out streak ended at ten straight with a one out walk of L.J. Hoes (insert "hoes" joke here). So he just started another streak by ending the inning on a fly out and pop up.
The Astros finally got on the board against Ray in the sixth. Fowler and Jason Castro lead off with back-to-back singles.
Top of six, Ray gives up back-to-back singles. Bullpen is stirring, and we have a PHIL COKE sighting. But he's not the one warming up. WHEW— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 7, 2014
Runners on the corners, Carter popped up to short right. Kinsler didn't look the ball into his glove, dropping it. He was still able to get the force at second, but a run scored.
Brad Asmus didn't want to push the youngster any further, pulling Ray after 86 pitches. Evan Reed cleaned up the leftovers nicely, ending the inning with a 6-4-3 double play.
You couldn't have have asked for more from Ray. He wrapped up his first start line line for the win. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up just five hits, striking out five, walking just one, and the only run allowed was unearned.
While the Tigers' offense had gone into hibernation, Reed remained on the mound in the seventh for the Tigers. Apparently, the Double Play Gods were in a Tigers kind of mood. Reed induced his second twin killing in as many innings. Matt Dominguez bounced into another 6-4-3 Astros double play, eliminating Springer, who had led off with a single.
Facing reliever Jose Cisnero, three straight singles from Kinsler, Hunter and Cabrera increased the Tigers' lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the seventh. Astros' ex-pat J.D.Martinez added a sacrifice fly, pushing the lead to five runs at 6-1.
Top of eight, and the short straw out of the bullpen was picked by Al Alburquerque.Tonight, the slider was sliding, striking out two in an easy 1-2-3 inning.
Things escalated quickly from there.
The Tigers batted around in the bottom of eighth, hanging a five spot on the scoreboard. Worth, Cabrera and Martinez the Junior all drove in runs as the Tigers increased their lead to an insurmountable 11-1.
Jeff Jones is all "You ^*$% made me come all the $%T@$# way out to the ^%$^ mound in a #$%$#$ blowout."— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 7, 2014
After a mound visit from a ticked off looking Jeff Jones, Miller would finally nail down the final out.
BASEBALL IS FUN!
Siete victorias consecutivaaaas! Los Tigres vencen Houston 11-4 en segundo juego de serie. #tigers— Tigres de Detroit (@TigresdeDetroit) May 7, 2014
Scott Feldman comes off the disabled list Friday, which means Peacock is pitching for an Astros' rotation spot. He's pitched well since being pulled out the bullpen, lasting at least five innings and allowing three runs or less in a trio of starts.
Porcello is off to an excellent start to 2014. Kid Rick became the Tigers' first four game winner (now equaled by Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander) with seven innings of four hit, two run ball on Friday night at Kansas City.
Comerica Park first pitch is set for 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
For one brief moment in the 9th, Fangraphs downgraded the Tigers' win expectancy to 99.9% - very tense moment.— HookSlide (@HookSlideBYB) May 7, 2014
Let's go streaking!
- Torii Hunter's first inning double gave him a 13 game hitting streak. His 13 games is his longest since August 2-20, 2011, when Hunter strung together an 18-game hitting streak.
- Victor Martinez's hitting streak is at nine games thanks to an RBI single in the third.
- Robbie Ray had a stretch where he retired ten Astros in a row and 15-of-17.
- The Tigers have won seven straight, 9-of-10 and 13-of-17.
They are rebuilding the Astros. But you can take the youth movement too far!.
Shot of the Astros' bench... pic.twitter.com/CeTGo3DIMa— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 7, 2014
Miguel Cabrera: Along with his season high four RBIs, Cabrera had his second four hit game of the season and the 34th four hit game of his career.
Robbie Ray: Ray got into early trouble, but didn't get at all flustered. He dominated the Astros for three innings, ultimately pitching into the sixth. You really couldn't ask for more from a first start.
Danny Worth: Three RBIs for the infielder who knows Toledo better than the natives.
Justin Miler: Pitched the ninth pitching as if MLB had a Designated Phil Coke rule.
Robbie Ray's facial hair: He needs to get beard counseling from Joba Chamberlain.
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GAME 27 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Max Scherzer was a runaway PotG recipient thanks to shutting down the Astros with eight shutout innings in a 2-0 victory.