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Tigers 8, Royals 7: Prince Fielder homers early, Delmon Young late, Jose Valverde tries to kill us all

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Final - 7.7.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City Royals 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 7 11 2
Detroit Tigers 2 3 0 1 0 0 2 0 X 8 12 0
WP: Doug Fister (2 - 6)
LP: Bruce Chen (7 - 8)

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The Detroit Tigers won their 4th consecutive game, hanging on to beat the Kansas City Royals 8-7. Doug Fister (2-6) pitched into the 7th inning to earn the victory. Long-time Tigers nemesis Bruce Chen (7-8) took the loss. Gerald Laird led the Tigers with 3 hits, with Prince Fielder (14) and Delmon Young (9) going deep. Mike Moustakas (15) homered for the Royals, Alcides Escobar chipping in with 3 hits.

It was an ugly beginning for Fister, who was, as the cool kids like to say on Twitter, BABiP'ed early on. Escobar laid down a perfect bunt single with 1 out. Hosmer followed a ground ball up the middle and into center. With 2 out, Tiger Killer Billy Butler's ground ball found the hole in the right side, scoring Escobar. Moustakas had the first hard hit ball of the inning, a line single scoring Hosmer, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead.

Down 2 runs, Prince Fielder evened the game up post haste. After Austin Jackson's lead off single, Quintin Berry laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving him to 2nd. With 2 out, Fielder said, "Screw the damn small ball!" crushing a long home run over the 365 mark in right center.

The Royals threatened in the 2nd, as the Tigers' defense forced Fister to get 5 outs. With 2 out, Alex Gordon doubled off the glove of Berry. He made a diving attempt, but the ball hit the heel of his glove. Escobar then hit a hard smash down the 3rd base line, Miguel Cabrera making a nice diving stop, but his throw pulled Fielder off the bag. Both were plays good defensive teams make...and we know the Tigers aren't. Despite the extended inning, Fister got out of trouble, Butler grounding out to short.

Allowing 2 runs and needing 44 pitches to get through 2 innings, there were cries of "What's wrong with Fister?" from Tigers fans. As it turned out, nothing.

The Tigers gave Fister a lead work with in the 3rd, the bottom of the order coming through with 3 runs off of Chen.

Leading off, Jhonny Peralta hit line smash off the wall in left, just missing a home run. Peralta smartly thought better off running on Gordon, settling for a long single. Ramon Santiago followed with a double, sending Peralta to 3rd. Gerald Laird then hit a fly ball to medium right center that looked very catchable, but somehow fell for a double between Jarrod Dyson and Jeff Francoeur. Peralta scored on the hit, Santiago rode home on Dyson's throwing error. G$ couldn't have walked the ball into the outfield and placed it any better.

The Tigers extended their lead to 6-2 in the 4th. Santiago lead off with his 2nd double of the afternoon. The Tigers proceeded to load the bases, Laird drawing a walk and Jackson singling for the 2nd time. Nate Adcock replaced Chen to face Cabrera, who hit a sacrifice fly to left. But Laird ran the Tigers out of the inning. Anticipating the throw going through to home plate, G$ was an easy out at 3rd when Hosmer cut off Francoeur's throw.

Fister gave back a run in the 5th. Moustakas' fly ball just clearing the right field wall, the solo homer making it a 6-3 game. Ryan Rabrun added some unintentional comedy by losing his glove in a crack in the wall.

The Royals crept closer in the 7th, an inning Jim Leyland channeled his inner LaRussa. Fister walked lead off man Escobar, which brought Leyland to the mound. The Marlboro Man decided 94 pitches in the sweltering Detroit heat was plenty from his starter. Darin Downs got the call, striking out the one batter he faced. Then came Brayan Villarreal. Escobar stole 2nd, went to 3rd on Butler's dying quail single, scoring on Hosmer's sac fly. Phil Coke ended the rally by striking out Moustakas.

The Royals were slowly chipping away at the Tigers' lead. Fans were getting a little nervous...until Delmon Young came to the rescue!

With Cabrera on base after an error, Young yanked an Adcock pitch into the bullpen in left. The 2 run shot gave the Tigers a much more comfortable 8-4 lead.

Good thing Young went yard. Turned out those runs were needed. Badly needed. They were game saving, actually.

After Joaquin Benoit had another dominant appearance, a 1-2-3, 2 strikeout 8th, Jose Valverde took over in a non-save 9th inning situation. He immediately loaded the bases, 2 runs scoring on Butler's single. Betancourt just missed a home run, Jackson running down his fly ball on the left center warning track for the 1st out of the inning. Jackson made an excellent running catch for the 2nd out, turning what looked like a Moustakas single into a sac fly.

Francoeur faced the Big Potato with 2 out and the game tying run on base. Pinch runner Jason Bourgeois made the situation even more gut-wrenchingly tense, stealing 2nd. But Papa Grande ended the day on a happy note, striking out Francoeur.

Cue Potato dancing, a 4 game winning streak, the Tigers moving to 1 game over .500, and within 4 1/2 games of the 1st place Chicago White Sox. Let's hope the Tigers are done flirting with .500 and are movin' on up to the east side top of the AL Central standings.

This is just how I hoped the Tigers would end the 1st half, on a tear. A 5 game winning streak at the break would sure sound good.

Bullets:

  • Austin Jackson's hitting streak has reached 14 games. He's now hitting .335, good enough for 2nd in the American League, but not good enough to play in the All-Star Game.
  • 1st inning sacrifice bunts are the equivalent of punting on 1st down. Thank goodness Fielder made the giving away of an early out moot. Sac bunts do have their place...it's NOT in the 1st inning.
  • The Tigers didn't have a great defensive game (When do they?), but the Royals were worse. Laird's double could have been caught, Santiago scored on a bad throw, Cabrera was on base for Young's big fly because of an error. The Royals looked a step slow all game long. Nice to see the glove on the other hand, so to speak.
  • Stat via @Thompson_Tigers: Cabrera (70 RBI) and Fielder (60 RBI) are the first Tigers duo with 60 plus RBI before the All-Star break since Magglio Ordonez (70) and Carlos Guillen (67) did so back in 2007. Yep, still waiting for Fielder to start hitting...
  • Ryan Raburn had a rough couple of innings to add on to his rough season. In a futile attempt to catch Moustakas' big fly, he got his arm stuck in the right field fence and lost his glove in the process. In the next inning, he was picked off 1st base on a snap throw from Royals' catcher Salvador Perez. Trust me, the Comerica Park crowd was not yelling, "Boo-urns."
  • Young has 3 home runs in his last 3 games, the first time he has ever done so as a big leaguer. The much derided Young has picked a great time to get hot. All I ask is he is kept as far away from left field as humanly possible.
  • Numbers via the Oakland Press' Matthew B. Mowery - Valverde in non-save situations before today's shenanigans: 1-1, 15.0 IP, 4.20 ERA, 18H, 12R, 7ER, 1 HR, 6 BB. But what are you going to do? Leyland can't use Valverde only in save situations. That's not how baseball works.

Screen cap of the day:

1st base umpire Bill Miller with the confusing call of the afternoon - He's SAF...OUT!

Safeout_medium

3 ROARS:

Gerald Laird: 3-3 with a pair of doubles. Is this enough for G$ to earn his first PotG victory?

Austin Jackson: 3 hits, a run, an RBI and excellent defense = ROAR.

Delmon Young: His 3rd consecutive late game home run saved Potato's bacon.

3 HISSES:

Jose Valverde: To quote Allison on most every BYB Podcast, "Stop doing thaaaat!" The only folks happy with his performance are those who sell antacid and defibrillators.

Ryan Raburn: Getting his arm stuck in the right field fence was the rotten cherry on top of his 0-4 day.

The weather: After pushing (and sometimes exceeding) the 100 degree mark for the past several days, the heat wave in SE MI is finally easing up. The game time temp was a balmy 91 degrees.

GAME 84 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Drew Smyly's 10 K in 6 innings earned both kudos and a PotG win, with 76% of the vote.