The Texas Rangers survived three Miguel Cabrera home runs to beat the Detroit Tigers in a slug-fest, 11-8. The Rangers took three of the four games in the weekend series, knocking Tigers starters out of the game in less than five innings in each of the victories.
Rangers starter Derek Holland only lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs and eight hits. Robbie Ross (2-0), who pitched a scoreless seventh, would receive credit for the win. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 13th save.
Unable to get out of the fifth inning, Doug Fister (5-2) was charged with the loss, allowing five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.
The Rangers 17 hit attack was led by Adrian Beltes's four hits and two RBI, David Murphy added two hits and four RBI, including a three run home run. Lance Berkman and Mitch Moreland also have two RBI each for the Rangers.
Cabrera had a huge night, reaching base five times, adding a single, walk and five RBI to his three big flies. Prince Fielder added a pair of hits and three RBI to account for the remainder of the Tigers' runs.
Now at 332 career home runs, Cabrera passed Tigers' legend Hank Greenberg on the all-time home run list. He's also leading the AL in batting average (.387) and RBI (47),just one off the AL lead in home runs (11).
There would be no pitcher's duel in Arlington tonight. Unfortunately, there would be little pitching or defense from the Tigers on a night their bats finally woke from a series long slumber. As sloppily played as Saturday's loss was, this game was far, far worse defensively.
We had the first TTBDNS in the top of the second, the Tigers could not push home a run with a pair of runners in scoring position and one out.
Playing for the first time since the Astros series, Matt Tuiasosopo drew a one out walk. Jhonny Peralta's liner found the gap in left center, Tuiasosopo stopping at third. The Rangers' infield in Brayn Pena bounced to Moreland, who fired home, the plate completely blocked by Geovany Soto, to nail a sliding Tuiasosopo for the second out. Perlata was left stranding at third when Avisail Garcia struck out.
The hardest hit ball off of Fister in the second was a two out single with the bases empty, but the Rangers took a 1-0 lead regardless.
Busted on the fists by Fister with two strikes, Beltre dropped a Twins Hit double in short right. He advanced to third on a ground ball and scored on Morleand's sacrifice fly, Torii Hunter's throw well up the line.
Miguel Cabrera wiped out the Rangers' lead with one might;y swing of the bat in the top of the third.
Omar Infante led off against Holland, lining a double into the left field corner. Infante then proceeded to get away with a bone-headed base running mistake. Shortstop Elvis Andrus went deep into the hole to flag down Hunter's ground ball, but taking off before he was sure the ball would get through, Infante lit off for third despite the play being in front of him. He should have been dead to rights, but Andrus' throw was well off line (possibly because he was so stunned Infante was running), pulling Beltre away from the bag, everyone was safe.
Cabrera made the Rangers pay, drilling Holland's first pitch over the 407 mark in right center. Cabrera's ninth home run of the season (estimated to have traveled 441 feet) gave the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
The Rangers tried to counter in the bottom half off the inning, but Fister pitched out of trouble.
With one down, Cabrera went into foul territory to grab Andrus' hard ground ball down the line, forced to make an off balance throw. Instead of making the safe play on the off line throw, Fielder went for the hero play, and failed. He tried to stretch and swipe at the in-between hop, but missed completely. Andrus ended up on second base with a single and Cabrera charged with an error.
Andrus would eventually be stranded at third as Fister got ground ball outs off the bats of David Murphy and Lance Berkman.
Putting on a show for the ESPN audience, Cabrera extended the Tigers' lead in the fifth, again, with one swing. This time it was a solo shot to make a 4-1 game, a line drive to dead center field for his tenth home run of the season.
Holland would give up a double to Fielder and issue his third base on balls to Tuiasosopo. Having seen enough, Ron Washington called on veteran lefty Derek Lowe and his 8.03 ERA in relief. Peralta popped up to shallow center, the Rangers still within shouting distance, down 4-1.
For whatever reason, the Tigers were unable to do a thing with Soto all series long. He bit them again, leading off the fifth with a double. Craig Gentry singled past a sprawling Peralta, Garcia's arm holding Soto at third. Leury Garcia hit a line drive to Tuiasosopo, Soto not tagging up.
Another thing which has bit the Tigers is the stolen base. It bit them again, Gentry taking the the double play away by stealing second. It paid off when Andrus bounced to short. Instead of a double play ball, it was an RBI ground out, Gentry taking third.
After Murphy walked, Berklman singled to center to score Gentry to pull the Rangers to with a run at 4-3.
Then things got a tad ridiculous.
Beltre launched a two out bloop shot into short left, the not-fleet-of-foot Cabrera, Tuiasosopo and Peralta all chasing. Peralta got closest, but had the ball glance off his glove for a bases clearing two RBI double. A visibly angry Cabrera railed to the umpires the ball was foul, replays showed otherwise.
Fister faced one more batter, Cruz ending his inning of paper cuts with an infield single. At 113 pitches and command all but gone, Jim Leyland yanked Fister for Darin Downs. It was the third time in four games with the Rangers Leyland pulled his starter before the end of the fifth inning.
Downs would get out of the inning on a fly ball, but the Rangers now held a 5-4 lead. They wouldn't hold it long.
Lowe still on the mound, Pena led off with a single. Andy Dirks pinch hit for Garcia, flew out to deep center. Infante crossed the Rangers up, laying down a perfectly placed bunt single (topping it off with a head first dive, even though there was no throw) to end Lowe's night.
Runners on first and second, Washington called for right-hander Jason Frasor out of the bullpen. Hunter stuck out swinging for the second out. Cabrera already 3-for-3 with two home runs, the Rangers wanted nothing to do with him. Once the count reachewd 1-1, they made the intentional walk official, loading the bases for a slumping Fielder. Washington made another move, wanting the left-handed Michael Kirkman to pitch to Fielder.
Washington's stratergery blew up in his face.
Fielder crushed a 1-1 pitch to center field, a line drive double cleared the bases, the Tigers back up on the Rangers 7-5.
Jose Ortega took the mound for the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth. The Rangers hit the bloom off Ortega, who had an extremely ugly inning.
The pesky Soto led off, singling to reach base for the third straight at bat. He was eliminated on a 3-6- fielder's choice off the bat of pinch hitter Leonys Martin. Garcia flew out to left, and it looked as if Ortega would get out of the inning unscathed.
Then the roof caved in on the rookie right-hander.
Martin stole second (teams running on the Tigers is getting beyond ridiculous at this point). Ortega walked Andrus, setting the table for Murphy.
Murphy hit a no-doubt shot into the seats in right field, a three homer to give the Rangers back the lead at 8-7. Just like that, the Tigers had given back a lead for the second time in as many innings.
Berkman and Beltre followed with singles, Ortaga walking Cruz to lead the bases. Ortega got a bad break against Moreland, fooling him with a change up, but his ground ball found the hole in the left side. Peralta got to the ball, but had no play, Morleland credited with an RBI single.
The Rangers up 9-7, Soto made a bid to make it a 12-7 game, smoking a line drive to dead center. But Dirks bailed out Ortega and kept ESPN from losing viewers with a marvelous running catch, crashing into the wall to end a long and frustrating inning. (You could say the same about this series)
Peralta doubled in the seventh, but was stranded when Driks was punched out on what looked like a low and inside pitch. ESPN never bothered to show a replay.
Phil Coke took over for Ortega, and immediately found himself in a jam, with a great deal of help from the Tigers' (lack of) defense and some God awful decision making.
The bad decisions started with the lead off man. Martin hit a sinking liner to left, Tuiasosopo playing what should have been a single into a double by channeling his inner Ryan Raburn. His failed dive allowed the ball to get past him for a two base hit.
Garcia was going to give the Tigers a free out, and dropped down a sacrifice bunt. ESPN's mics picked up Pena yelling for Coke to throw to third, so he did. But Cabrera was nowhere near the bag. Coke threw it anyway, both runners safe as Cabrera incredulously caught the ball with is bare hand.
The bad decisions continued unabated. Andrus bounced to short, and Peralta smartly held the runner. But for some unfathomable reason Perlata chose to throw to first instead of getting the easy force on Garcia, who had stopped running halfway to second.
Both runners now in scoring position, Murphy hit a sacrifice fly to left to plate Martin. But this time Tuiasosopo decided to channel his inner Torii Hunter and airmail the cutoff man, allowing Garcia to advance to third. He would score on Berkman's single, the Rangers now pulling away at 11-7.
Leyland, running out of arms, called on Evan Reed to stop the sliced artery from bleeding out completely. He allowed a single to Beltre, before Cruz popped up to end a brutal inning.
Unfortunately, four bone-headed defensive plays in the seventh had all but handed the victory to the Rangers. Bullet meet foot.
The Tigers may have been down and out, but Cabrera wasn't going down without a fight. Facing Tanner Scheppers, Cabrera lined a mind-90s fastball in on his fists over the center field wall, his third home run of the game and 11th of the season. The Tigers were still kind of in the game at 11-8 ... but they still had to pitch and play defense in the bottom half of the inning.
Reed did his job, not allowing a run.
With a three run lead and a save in the offing, Washington brought on Tiger Killer Joe Nathan to close out the game. He did just that, nailing down the save, striking out Dirks to end a weird, messy game and an awful weekend.
Game and series over.
The final score - Rangers 11, Cabrera 5, Fielder 3 (with an assist from Cabrera). In other words, the Tigers fall 11-8, losing 3-of-4 to the Rangers.
I just want to forget this series ever happened, as do the Tigers, I'm sure.
Having lost 3-of-4, the Tigers fall to 23-19 and are now a two games back in of the streaking Indians in the Central. The 29-15 Rangers have a comfortable 6 1/2 game lead in the West.
Their bullpen in shambles and in need of a day off, the Tigers get one. Monday the Tigers travel to Cleveland, and will start a short two game series on Tuesday.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
This exchange encapsulates ESPN's coverage of Tigers baseball.
Prince Fielder is fat RT @tokarzontigers: Do the ESPN announcers know anything about our players not named Miguel Cabrera?— Grey (@spacemnkymafia) May 20, 2013
Matt Tuiasosopo was thrown out at home in the second inning. If it seems like more Tigers are being thrown out at the plate this season with Tom Brookens coaching third, well, it because there are more.
Yes. RT @azizabada: Is this because of the lack of speed on the basepaths, or more because of Brookens being more aggressive than Gene was?— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) May 20, 2013
Derek Holland walked Matt Tuiasosopo three times, the last causing Ron Washington to pull his starter.
Holland at 105 pitches. 48 of them to Tuiasosopo.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) May 20, 2013
Miguel Cabrera singed on a full count in the first inning, after falling behind 0-2. In the third inning, Cabrera mashed the first pitch he saw to the opposite field for a three run homer. Then he did it twice more. We are watching an artist who uses a baseball bat instead of a paint brush.
Miggy back to hitting .509 (28-for-55) with runners in scoring position. #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) May 20, 2013
ESPN showed us Cabrera's hot zone. John Kruk: "Might as well just paint the whole box red."
A couple of pitches later, Cabrera hit his second home run of the game. That big fly tied Cabrera with Tigers Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg with 331 career home runs. He would pass Greenberg in the eighth with career home run 332.
Fun Fact: Miguel Cabrera is on pace to hit one million home runs this year. He's currently batting .783— Josh Holub (@JoshHolub) May 20, 2013
It feels like it, anyway.
Food for thought...
This is how Cabrera changes games.
Tigers have seven runs - solo homer by Cabrera, 3-run homer by Cabrera, 3-run double after Cabrera walked without first base open.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) May 20, 2013
More on Cabrera's one man wrecking crew act.
Cabrera's game tonight marks the 22nd three-homer game in franchise history. #tigers— Rick Thompson (@Thompson_Tigers) May 20, 2013
Cabrera joins Higginson (2), C. Fielder (3) and Colavito (2) as only Tigers with multiple three-homer games. #votemiggy— Rick Thompson (@Thompson_Tigers) May 20, 2013
This Buster Olney tweet from the seventh inning shows just how awful a weekend it was in Texas for the Tigers.
Updated Tigers' bullpen numbers for this four-game series: 16 1/3 innings, 274 pitches.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 20, 2013
It's a long season. Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, ups and downs. Tonight was definitely a down. But win two in Cleveland, something the Tigers are very capable of doing, and we'll forget all four of these games ever happened.
Miguel Cabrera: MVP. MVP. MVP.
Prince Fielder: Broke out of a lengthy slump with two hits, three RBI and making Ron Washington pay dearly for walking Cabrera intentionally.
Evan Reed: More of an honorary roar. Reed did not allow a run in 1 1/3 innings, and was rewarded with a trip to Triple-A Toledo as the Tigers will recall Luke Putkonen before Tusedays' game.
Miguel Cabrera: He's so damn good, he deserves a second roar.
Doug Fister: Wasn't much better than Justin Verlander or Anibal Sanchez, unable to get out of the fifth inning with a lead. As I've mentioned in the other losses, the Tigers pitching has been so good, they were bound for some regression. I just wasn't expecting to see it in three of four games in the same series.
Jose Ortega: The Rangers hit the rookie HARD.
Defense: Apparently the Tigers weren't told defense was mandatory. They weren't charged with an error in the seventh, but four silly mental errors made the inning a nationally televised farce. And how about holding a base runner occasionally?
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No Tiger was deemed worthy of the honor, as "Really? A player of the game?" won with 68% of the vote.