DETROIT — Not even early fireworks in the sixth inning were able to give the Tigers the catalyst they needed to do significant damage against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tigers lost 6-3 on a night when Drew Smyly started strong but exited having been rocked for five runs.
"I couldn't really get the third out of an inning," Smyly said. "Two of the first three runs came with two out. I thought I pitched good, I just gave up a couple of two-out runs." (h/t Dave Hogg, FOX Sports Detroit)
An upper respiratory infection ended Smyly's last start after just 2 1/3 innings on June 29. Despite making it through 5 1/3 innings on Friday, seven hits, Smyly's difficulty with finding the strike zone in the later innings and only three strikeouts did little to contain the Rays.
"He did look like he was starting to get tired at the end," Ausmus said. "I don't know if it was related to the illness or not. But early on I thought he was good, his velocity was good and I thought his stuff was good. Towards the end he tired rather quickly."
Smyly, on the other hand, said that his difficulties in the last couple of innings were due to hung pitches and not the result of feeling fatigued. Whether Smyly's outing was the result of any lingering illness, Ausmus never considered skipping him in the rotation simply because of how short his last start was.
Victor Martinez was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning, Evan Longoria was hit in the top of the sixth and Ian Kinsler was hit in the bottom of the sixth. Immediately following Kinsler being hit, warnings were issued by home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott and Rays manager Joe Maddon came out to argue the call.
After being told to remain in the dugout by both the second base and home plate umpires, Maddon walked onto the field and was ejected. Those fireworks led to an RBI single by Martinez and a groundout RBI by Torii Hunter, which scored Martinez, but nothing else resulted.
"I think it was a situation where three guys got hit but I don't think there wasn't any intent or malice," Ausmus said. "There was nothing vicious in it. I don't think anyone tried to hit anyone in this game, quite frankly. It was just one of those games where a three people got hit and there were some warnings issued."
Maddon happened to disagree with Ausmus and stated Longoria was hit intentionally. However, Maddon said there would be no retaliation on Saturday. Despite being hit, Martinez did not believe that any of the hits were intentional. "I don't think that anybody in here thinks that there's any bad blood (between the teams)," Martinez said. "In a close game, you don't want to be hitting anybody."
The Tigers were handed just their third loss in 15 games, which evened the series. Austin Jackson and Eugenio Suarez both struck out in every at-bat and were a combined 0-7 for the night. In Jackson's case, Ausmus said it was more of an off-night than a continuing problem. Suarez, on the other hand, is a case where he may be trying too hard.
"(Suarez) gets into modes where he over-swings," Ausmus said. "I don't even know if he realizes it, I know (hitting coach) Wally (Joyner) has talked to him about it and we talked to him about it in Arlington about getting a little bit long, getting a little bit big. I don't think he's consciously trying to get long and big but it looks sometimes like he's trying to hit the ball over the wall rather than stay short and just hit line drives. Young players and veteran players alike have to be reminded of that sometimes."
Torii Hunter: Grounded out twice but those groundouts accounted for two of the runs, putting the Tigers within two of the Rays.
Victor Martinez: Drove in the Tigers second run in the sixth inning after Kinsler was hit by a pitch and Cabrera walked.
J.D. Martinez: Was the only Tiger with mulitple hits, finishing 2-3 with a single and a double for the night.
Tigers offense: Was mainly cold with a few warm streaks running through it and a sixth inning mini rally, which scored two runs were all the Tigers could muster against the Rays. They went quietly into the night for most of the game apart from the fourth inning where they scored one run.
Austin Jackson: After going 5-10 in his last two games, Jackson struck out four times and was given the Golden Sombrero.
Alex Avila: Was 0-3 for the night with two groundouts and a flyout.
Eugenio Suarez: Struck out swinging three times and is now 0-7 in his last two games.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- With his leadoff single in the first inning, Ian Kinsler has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games and is hitting .418 in that time.
- Since returning to the leadoff position, Austin Jackson has gone 0-4 twice and 0-5 once, all occurring in the leadoff position. Both four strikeout games occurred within the same week; July 4 against the Rays and June 29 against the Houston Astros.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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