The Detroit Tigers found themselves in their second pitcher's duel in three games with the Houston Astros. Rick Porcello won his team-leading fifth game of 2014, out-pitching the Astros' Brad Peacock as the Tigers held on late to win 3-2. Detroit extends their winning streak to eight games with the victory.
Porcello (5-1) pitched into the seventh, allowing just two runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five while walking only two. Joba Chamberlain was asked to get four outs to set up Joe Nathan. Both had scoreless outings, Chamberlain striking out three and Nathan converting his seventh save. The three Tigers' pitchers combined to strike out ten Astros.
The Astros' pitching staff allowed 18 Detroit hits on Tuesday night. The Tigers' offense did a 180 with Peacock (0-3) on the mound, holding the Tigers' offense in check on four hits and three runs over 6 2/3 innings of work. But two of the hits were home runs, which proved to be the difference in the game.
The Tigers were out-hit by the Astros seven to five. But a two run home run from Miguel Cabrera and a solo shot from Victor Martinez turned out to be all the offense the Tigers would need. Don Kelly added a pair of hits and a stolen base for the winners.
Marwin Gonzalez supplied the majority of the Astros' offense with two hits, a run scored and an RBI.
The Tigers raised their MLB best record to 20-9, a .690 winning percentage. Along with eight wins in a row, they have taken 9-of-10 and 14-of-18. Detroit's lead in the AL Central holds steady at five games. The Tigers look to close out a sweep of the Astros Thursday afternoon.
Rick Porcello, strikeout artist. He allowed a single in a scoreless first, but also struck out a pair of Astros.
Astros starter Brad Peacock was not the cock of the walk. Though he did issue a lead off free pass to lead off man Ian Kinsler. One down, Miguel Cabrera flashed his opposite field power stroke for a second straight game. His line drive to right center just cleared the wall and the glove of George Springer for his fourth home run of the season. The two run shot gave the Tigers an early 2-0 lead (MLB.com video).
Thanks to the umpires, Brad Ausmus got a ton of TV time in the bottom of the second. Andrew Romine on base with a one out walk, he stole second while Rajai Davis was swinging. Romine was sent back to first as Davis got tangled up with catcher Jason Castro and was called out for interference. Ausmus made his first on-field appearance to get an explanation.
Romine was sent a second time, and was called out stealing. Out trotted the Dartmouth man, who challenged the call. Replays showed it wasn't even close, the Ivy Leaguer winning another challenge (MLB.com video). Romine now on second, it all became moot when Kinsler rifled a liner to third, but straight at Matt Dominguez for the third out.
The Astros got to Porcello in the top of the third, pulling within a run at 2-1. Marwin Gonzalez led off with a liner which skipped past Don Kelly in left center for a two base hit. He would advance to third on Jose Altuve's fly ball and score on Dexter Fowler's RBI ground out.
Porcello and Peacock settled into a pitcher's duel. Through five innings, Porcello had given up one run on three hits, striking out four and waking two on 70 pitches. Peacock's line was similar, allowing two runs on three hits, striking out three and walking three on 77 pitches.
But Peacock's luck ran out in the sixth.
Victor Martinez's ridiculously good season continued when he extended the Tigers' lead to 3-1 by tomahawking a Peacock fastball over the right field fence. The lead off big fly was Martinez's team-leading sixth home run of the season (MLB.com video), giving Detroit a 3-1 lead after six full innings.
Two down in the seventh, Marc Krauss doubled to the left center. Unlike his predecessor, Ausmus decided to leave Porcello in the game to get out of his own jam. The inning got jammier instead.
Dominguez lashed a sinking liner to right, Hunter threw caution to the wind by charging the ball and catching it on the short hop (if the ball had got by Hunter, who knows when it would have stopped rolling), then fired a throw all the way to the plate, cut off man be damned. The risky play did keep Krauss from scoring, giving the Astros runners on the corners. Gonzalez followed with a single to right, plating Krauss and ending Porcello's night.
The three straight hits had pulled the Astros within a run at 3-2. Two on and two out, Joba Chamberlain was called on to get out of the jam. He fell behind Altuve 2-0, but induced the tiny second baseman into a 4-3 ground out to keep the Astros' rally at one run.
Bottom of the seventh, Rajai Davis manufactured a threat with his legs. One down, Davis walked, then stole second (after Peacock threw to first approximately eleventy-billion times) while Kinsler was striking out.
Bo Porter went to his pen, calling on right-hander Josh Zeid to face Hunter. The ageless right fielder was unable to keep his 13 game hitting streak alive, striking out to end the threat.
Chamberlain remained on the mound for the eighth. The Tigers' setup man was again lights out, striking out the side.
Bottom of eight, Don Kelly singled and stole second (They can't stop Don Kelly!), but the Tigers couldn't push across an insurance run for Joe Nathan.
Nathan got the first two outs of the ninth easily. But he walked Krauss, who was replaced by pinch-runner Jonathan Villar.
Villar proceeded to make things a little too interesting, stealing both second AND third. But Nathan threw a shoulder-high 2-2 fastball past a flailing Dominguez for the final out, stranding the tying run 90 feet away.
GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 3, Astros 2, winning streak 8.
BASEBALL IS FUN.
Thursday afternoon's left-handed series finale features at Astros' lefty Dallas Keuchel (2-2, 3.96 ERA) taking on Tigers' lefty Drew Smyly (2-1, 2.45 ERA). Keuchel is a good friend of Smyly's, they were housemates at the University of Arkansas.
Keuchel's last start was marred by a sudden loss of command. Holding a 2-1 lead against the Mariners, Kuechel walked the first three batters he faced in the seventh, laying the foundation for an eight run rally and a 9-8 loss.
Smyly is coming off what is arguably the best start of his career, tossing seven shutout innings while allowing just two hits in a 1-0 win over the Royals.
First pitch at what should be a very warm and windy Comerica Park is scheduled for 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
We're still going streaking!
- Of course, the Tigers have an eight game win streak. Their longest of 2013 was 12 games.
- Victor Martinez's hitting streak was extended to ten games with his sixth inning home run.
- Miguel Cabrera has homered in two straight games.Cabrera now has 369 career home runs, tied with Todd Helton and Ralph Kiner for 74th all-time.
- Rick Porcello has won four consecutive starts.
- Rajai Davis has stolen six straight bases, raising his AL leading total to 12. Per Matthew B. Mowery, the last Tiger to lead the AL in stolen bases at any time was Brian Hunter in 1997.
- Joba Chamberlain has allowed just two runs in his last 12 outings. In his last nine appearances, Chamberlain has six holds, a save and a win.
- Don Kelly had his first stolen base since May 26, 2013
An 0-for-4 night ends Torii Hunter's hitting streak at 13 games. It was a good run for the ageless one.
Miguel Cabrera: Supplied the majority of the Tigers' offense with a two run bomb.
Victor Martinez: Supplied the remainder of the Tigers' offense with a solo homer.
Rick Porcello: Pitched into the seventh, allowing two runs on seven hits to win his team-leading fifth game. Another solid outing in a season full of them for Porcello.
Joba Chamberlain: Retired all four batters he faced, struck out the side in the eighth.
Don Kelly: Reached three times on a walk and two singles, added a stolen base. Kelly also had a huge night on Twitter.
Nathan gets the K! Tigers win 3-2! And we all know why the Tigers now have an 8 game winning streak. Because... pic.twitter.com/SGuIShL9dM— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 8, 2014
The shift. The Astros' shift cost Alex Avila a couple of hits, along with Martinez and Cabrera. Of course, Martinez showed how to beat it.
"How to Beat the Shift," by Victor Martinez. Chapter 1: Hit the ball into the stand. The end.— HookSlide (@HookSlideBYB) May 8, 2014
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
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GAME 28 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Robbie Ray's first career start was an impressive one, holding the Astros to one run on five hits over 5 1/3 innings to earn the victory. Ray took 69% of the vcte, enough to top Miguel Cabrera for PotG.