The Detroit Tigers could not extend their winning streak to eight games as they lost to the Houston Astros 4-3 on a walk-off home run by Jason Castro in the 11th inning. With the loss Friday night and the Kansas City Royals picking up a win against the Los Angeles Angels, the Tigers lead in the AL Central now stands at 3 1/2 games.
Justin Verlander had his second solid start following the series in Cleveland, but with a pitch count of 105, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus pulled Verlander after six innings where he allowed six hits on three runs, while walking only one batter for the second consecutive game. Verlander said it's the second straight game where he's felt like everything is trending in the right direction, his off-speed is sharper and his curveball has more 'bite' to it.
Prior to his start in Cleveland, Verlander had allowed 10 walks in his three appearances on June 5, June 11 and June 16. Verlander's command has shown improvement since then and he recorded eight strikeouts on Friday. "The stuff's coming along, he's getting some more swings and misses," Ausmus said. "It's the direction of his entire body towards the plate, towards the catcher's mitt. Gives more life on the fast ball, gives more depth on the off-speed."
The Tigers offense was quieted by the Astros' Brad Peacock, being held to just a handful of hits in the 6 2/3 innings he pitched against the Tigers. Despite several well hit balls by the Tigers, all but eight of those hits found easy outs and the Tigers had two base runners on only once, in the fourth inning.
"It just seemed like one of those nights where we had a couple guys on base, balls were being hit hard and it just seemed to be right at people," J.D. Martinez said. "What are we going to do? Nothing you could do about that. We made some mistakes (defensively) and they capitalized on it."
The Tigers relief staff, a mix of Chad Smith, Patrick McCoy, Joba Chamberlain and Al Alburquerque, pitched a combined three scoreless innings and sent the Tigers into extra innings. At the conclusion of the ninth inning the Tigers and the Astros had three runs, seven hits and two errors apiece.
Blaine Hardy was handed his first loss of the season after pitching 1 1/3 innings, giving up the walk-off home run to Castro with one out. But Verlander said Hardy should focus on more than one bad pitch. "He's done an excellent job since he's been here," Verlander said. "This stuff's going to happen. He made a mistake and they hit it hard. You've got to focus on the big picture and he's done an extremely good job for this bullpen and this team. That's what he needs to focus on and not on making one mistake."
Nick Castellanos: Planted his sixth home run of the season into the seats in the fourth inning, a solo shot, which was also the go-ahead run.
Eugenio Suarez: The roars were slim pickings until Suarez stepped to the plate. He battled an eight-pitch plate appearance to draw a leadoff walk in the eighth inning and later scored on an error to tie the game at 3-3.
Jonathan Villar: Graciously allowed the Tigers to tie things up in the eighth when he failed to make a clean throw to first base, which allowed Suarez to score. As the Tigers would fail to score in the ninth inning it would be the run which allowed the game to go into extra innings.
Joba Chamberlain: Another game, another scoreless inning for Chamberlain who struck out the first batter. Chamberlain allowed a walk but got Jesus Guzman to ground into an inning-ending double play, needing just 11 pitches in all.
Joba Chamberlain wraps up another scoreless outing, then goes back to his day job as Yukon Cornelius. pic.twitter.com/Ui0ayzPhFF— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 28, 2014
Tigers Offense: Held to just eight hits in 11 innings, and the only inning in which they had two runners on at the same time was when Eugenio Suarez and Ian Kinsler hit back-to-back singles in the fourth inning.
Justin Verlander: Threw a wild pitch to first in the first inning, which allowed the first run of the night, and was given an error on a throw to first in the fifth inning, which eventually allowed the Astros to tie it up 2-2.
Alex Avila: Tried to stretch an RBI single to a double and was thrown out in the top of the second inning. He was also given a fielding error on a throw to third, which allowed a run to score in the bottom of the first inning.
Miguel Cabrera/Victor Martinez: Finished the night a combined 0-9 and Martinez was 0-5 for the first time since June 23, 2013. To their credit, neither player struck out, Cabrera walked once and several of the outs were scorched, a few of which carried warning track power.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Ian Kinsler finished the evening 3-5 and now has six consecutive multi-hit games for the first time in his career. He is the first Tiger to do so since Miguel Cabrera had his (September 23-28, 2011).
- With Kinsler's three hits Friday night, since the start of the road trip on June 20, Kinsler is slashing .484/.543/.839, and is currently on a seven-game hitting streak.
- Justin Verlander finished June without recording a win, which was the first time in his major league career where he finished the month without at least one. However, Verlander had 17 swinging strikes, which was a season high.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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