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Tigers 7, Astros 3: Bullpen, Don Kelly come through in 14-inning marathon

The Tigers' bullpen pitched seven innings of one-hit, two-walk baseball, not allowing a run. A spectacular performance for a much maligned group.


It took fourteen innings, a combined thirteen pitchers, 36 strikeouts, and almost five hours for the Detroit Tigers to knock off the Houston Astros 7-3. The Tigers kept alive their streak of game with ten or more strikeouts, now at seven, one short of the MLB record. Five Tigers pitchers combined for eighteen punch outs.

The last of those five pitchers for the Tigers, Luke Putkonen (1-0), recently called up from Triple-A Toledo, pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Dallas Keuchel, the seventh of eight Astros pitchers, took a tough loss, tossing 4 1/3 innings in relief.

Jason Castro and Carlos Pena homered to supply all the Astros offense on the night.

Don Kelly had two hits and the game-winning RBI for the Tigers. Austin Jackson had three hits, scoring twice. Matt Tuiasosopo added a two-RBI double in the fourteenth to put the game out of the Astros' reach.

To open the game, the Tigers went down in order facing Jordan Lyles, making his season debut. Rick Porcello's debut at the carnival Minute Maid Park didn't go as well.

Lead-off man Robbie Grossman lined to the gap in left center, legging out a two-base hit. After Porcello stuck out Eddie Gaedel Jose Altuve, Jason Castro went to the opposite field on a 3-0 pitch, his line drive clearing the short porch in left. Castro's second home run of the season gave the Astros a quick 2-0 lead (keep in mind it's likely a fly out at Comeirca Park)

Second time through the order against Lyles, the Tigers' Dynamic Duo (plus Omar Infante) got the offense untracked and on the scoreboard in the third.

Infante doubled off the left-field wall with one out, advancing to third on Austin Jackson's single. As he has all season, Torii Hunter continued making great use of the opposite field, sending an RBI single to right, Infante crossing the plate.

Miguel Cabrera followed with a line single to center, his 1000th hit as Tiger and 30th RBI of the season, tying the game at two-all. ( video)

Porcello settled in after his rough first inning, retiring nine straight Astros after Castro's big fly. But the tenth batter was former Tiger Carlos Pena, whom Porcello served a belt-high fastball. Pena deposited it in the ridiculously short porch in left field, his third home run of the season putting the Astros up 3-2. Again, this would have been an easy out at Comerica.

While the Astros were taking a lead, Lyles was handling the Tigers fairly easily. After scoring twice in the third, all the Tigers could muster against Lyles through five innings was a fourth-inning, two-out Alex Avila walk and a Cabrera single in the fifth, also with two out. Neither advanced further.

Having kept the Tigers at bay, Lyles was pulled after five innings for left-hander Travis Blackley. Blackley was just as effective, pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Affter striking out Avila for the first out of the seventh inning, Blackley was pulled for right-hander Paul Clemens. Clemens would finish striking out the side in the seventh, the Tigers unable to muster anything resembling offense to this point.

It looked as if the Tigers might get something going in the eighth after Hunter led off and drew a base on balls. Then it didn't look that way after the Astros turned a 5-4-3 double play on Cabrera's hard-hit ground ball.

Fielder kept hope alive, getting plunked with two outs by Wesley Wright. Then Wright got himself Porcello'd, otherwise known as getting BABIP'd.

Martinez didn't hit the ball hard, but his looper to right dropped in front of defensive replacement Rick Ankiel. Ankiel was not just playing deep; he was essentially playing in the right-field seats. The former wunderkind pitcher compounded the issue by booting the ball. Instead of runners on the corners, the error allowed Fielder, who was going to be held at third base, to score.

Martinez was credited with a single, no RBI and took second on the error. Regardless, the game was now tied with Matt Tuiasosopo batting for Andy Dirks and a runner in scoring position. After Tuiasosopo drilled a couple of hard-hit balls foul, right-handed reliever Jose Veras struck him out to get out of the inning.

But the two-out rally had tied the game at 3-all.

Porcello's night was over after seven innings, three runs, five hits and seven strikeouts. Taking over in the eighth was rookie Jose Ortega, who was impressive in his one inning against the Twins on Wednesday.

Ortega was just as impressive tonight, striking out two while retiring the side in order. This also kept alive the Tigers' chance at stretching their AL record streak of games with 10 of more strikeouts. Ortega's K's gave the Tigers' pitching staff nine strikeouts through eight.

The Tigers couldn't do a thing with Veras. He struck out the side in the ninth, giving him four consecutive K's.

The K-fest continued with Ortega on the mound. He whiffed the first batter he faced in the bottom of the ninth, the tenth Astro to go down via strikeout. The K record lives for another day!

With help from Infante, who robbed Castro of a single with a fine defensive play, Ortega set the Astros down in order to send the game into extra innings.

New pitchers to start the tenth, lefty Dallas Keuchel for the Astros, Joaquin Benoit for the Tigers. Both were perfect. On to the eleventh.

The Tigers put together a two-out threat against Keuchel in the eleventh, Tuiasosopo walking, Peralta singling him to second.

Playing lefty-righty matchups (and the fact Avila is now hitting .176), Brayan Pena pinch hit for Avila. The move paid off, Pena lining a single to right.

Trying to force something that just wasn't there, third base coach Tom Brookens sent the not-exactly-fleet-of-foot Tuiasosopo on one of the best arms in baseball, Ankiel.

The play went just as well as when Brookens sent Martinez on Jeff Francoeur.

Ankiel fired a one-hop strike to Castro. Tuiasosopo was an easy out to end the inning.

Benoit allowed a two-out walk in the bottom of the inning, but nothing came of it, Gaedel Altuve bouncing to Cabrera. On to the twelfth we went.

The Tigers threatened but did not score in the top of the twelfth. Jackson singled with one down. Cabrera at the plate with two out, Keuchel refused to throw a strike, issuing an unintentional intentional walk.

Keuchel decision to pitch to Fielder paid off, bouncing into a force to end the inning.

Darin Downs took the mound to start the bottom of the twelfth. He allowed a single to Pena sandwiched by two outs. But with right-handed pinch-hitter Brandon Laird on for Ankiel, Jim Leyland wanted to play percentages. Out went the lefty, in came right-hander Luke Putkonen, making his first appearance for the Tigers since he saved the last game of the 2012 season.

Putkonen did his job, Laird grounding out 6-3. To the thirteenth!

Trying to save us all from another fourteen-inning game, Don Kelly (who entered the game as a pinch runner for Martinez in the eighth) led off by lining a double into the left-field corner off Keuchel, now into his fourth inning of work.

Tuiasosopo couldn't even move Donnie Baseball over, going down swinging, the seventeenth Tiger to strikeout.

Peralta found the hole in the left side, Brookens holding up the stop sign at third for Kelly. Good thing, left fielder Fernando Martinez was playing very shallow ... not hard to do considering the short left field dimensions.

One out, runners on the corners and the hero of the extra innings win in Seattle at the plate, Pena. There were no heroics this time, Pena struck out swinging.

Infante sent a can of corn to left, the Tigers unable to score after a lead off double. Donnie Baseball tried, but his teammates couldn't pick him up.

Putkonen was effective, pitching a 1-2-3 the bottom half of the inning, To the fourteenth.

For the second straight inning, the Tigers got a lead-off double. Jackson's fly ball finding the right field corner. Hunter gave himself up, sending a ground ball to the right side to move Jackson to third.

Discretion being the better part of valor, and it being solid baseball strategy, Astros manager Bo Porter had Keuchel walk both Cabrera and Fielder, loading the bases for Donnie Baseball.

Kelly got himself into a hitters count at 2-0, then pulled an RBI single through the hole in the right side. Everyone moved ahead one base, Jackson scoring the first Tigers run since the eighth, leading 4-3.

Kelly giving the Tigers a lead, Porter finally pulled Keuchel after a damn heroic 4 1/3 innings for rookie righty Jose Cisnero.

Tuiasosopo greeted Cisnero by proceeding to break the game wide open, slapping a two-RBI double to left center. Cabrera and Fielder rumbled around to score, the Tigers now up 6-3.

Peralta drove in the Tigers' final run with a sacrifice fly to deep right, Kelly racing home to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead.

Pena bounced out, ending the carnage, but the damage was FINALLY done. Eight Tigers came to the plate; three hits, two walks and a sacrifice fly later, the Tigers had pushed across four runs.

Apparently the fourteenth inning is a good one for the Tigers.

Putkonen was given a shot at finishing the game. He did with a flourish, striking out Castro and Pena to wrap up the win in fourteen freaking innings.

In the end, the Tigers bullpen would pitch seven innings of one-hit, two-walk baseball, not allowing a run. A spectacular performance for a much maligned group.

The Tigers raise their record to 16-11, just percentage points (.593 to .600) behind the first place Royals in the Central.

The struggling Astros have lost three straight, fall to 8-21 on the season, nine games out of first in the West.

Doug Fister (4-0) takes the mound for the Tigers against the Astros' Bud Norris (3-3) in the second game of the four game series Friday night. First pitch is 8:10 PM.


Source: FanGraphs


First impression of Minute Maid Park: It's just plain weird, what a stadium would look like if a 10 year old was given free reign.

Lynn Henning agrees.

Even worse, Astros fans do the wave. I guess that's what you do when you play in a glorified circus tent. Well, try to do when the place is 3/4 empty.

Porcello gets BABIP'd when he rolls out of bed in the morning. So I almost believe this.

Porcello was hitting 96 miles per hour on the Minute Maid Park radar gun in the first inning. WHAT? The gun must be juiced.

Robbie Grossman made a quick impression, doubling in the first inning, then robbing Victor Martinez of a two-base hit in the second.

Miguel Cabrera' third-inning RBI single was the 1000th hit of his Tigers career. He becomes the 30th Tiger to reach the 1K mark.

Cabrera took 819 games for his 1000 hits. Only four Tigers have reached the mark faster, and three are Hall of Fame members: George Kell (760), Havey Kuenn (773), Hank Greenberg (803) and Charlie Gehringer (811).

FSD is outright trolling us with questions like this:


Mario Impemba: "There is no E"

Carlos Pena tried bunting his way on in the seventh, and was semi-successful. Trying to make a play, Porcello threw the ball into right field. Thanks to a friendly bounce to Infante, Pena was out by several steps trying to take second base, bailing out Porcello.

This pretty much summed up the all-around awfulness of the play.

There was little O from the Tigers for much of the game. But they were playing in some bizarro world with a hill in center field, a giant gas pump in the concourse, a choo-choo train running past left field and 320-foot fly balls are home runs. The Astros were taking advantage of the Little League distances, unlike the Tigers.

Jhonny Peralta had an incident while at the plate in the ninth, fouling off a ball directly into his groin.


Not to worry. Avila, who looks completely lost at the plate, struck out looking.

Omar Infante made a marvelous play to rob Jason Castro of a base hit in the bottom of the ninth.


Infante ranged far to left in order to garb the ground ball in short right field, staying on his feet he did a 360-degree turn while making an accurate throw to Fielder for the out. The Tigers didn't have a second baseman on their roster who could have dreamed of making that play before Infante arrived.

This was the Tigers' fifth extra-inning game of the young season. They were 1-3 in the previous four.

Chris Carter pulled a Josh Hamilton in the tenth, sending his bat flying toward Cabrera. He made like he would catch the damn thing.





We had a Brandon Inge shirsey sighting in the twelfth. Inge shirsey guy was so giddy after catching a foul ball, you would have thought he won the lottery.


There were more people in the Tigers' dugout than in the Minute Maid stands as the game chugged on past midnight here in the east.



I'm confident in saying Luke Putkonen pitched in front of more people in his last Toledo appearance than he did in Houston.

The two teams combined for 36 strikeouts, eighteen each. Strikeouts are both fascist and a big league epidemic.

In his last two appearances for the Tigers, Luke Putkonen has a save and a win. They just happen to be seven months apart.

The Tigers are now 2-0 in fourteen inning games this season. I hope it the LAST fourteen inning game.


Rick Porcello: Second straight quality start for Porcello after the nightmare in Anaheim.

Jose Ortega: Tossed two perfect innings, striking out three. Ortega has been spectacular since his call up; three innings, retired all nine he's faced, striking out five.

Joaquin Benoit:Two scoreless innings, three strikeouts.

Don Kelly: Donnie Baseball did his damnedest to end the game in the thirteenth with a lead off double, then actually won it in the fourteenth with a bases loaded single.

Matt Tuiasosopo: Reached base twice, broke the game wide open with a bases juiced double, putting the game on ice.

Luke Putkonen: Pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings to win the first game of his career.


The Tigers' offense (for thirteen innings): Jordan Lyles has a career ERA of 5.20. Travis Backley's rocks a 5.34 career ERA. Paul Clemens has a 4.50 ERA for his career. Hector Ambriz's career ERA is 5.16. Wesley Wright carries a career ERA of 4.42. Jose Veras is at 4.03. Dallas Keuchel for his career is at 5.06. The Tigers could not do a thing with this Triple A Murderer's Row for thirteen innings.

Tom Brookens: Rod and Mario did their best to defend Brookens' decision to send Tuiasosopo on Ankiel, saying there were two outs, it was forcing him to make a play, it was close. I might buy their arguments if it were Jackson or Hunter running, but not Tuiasosopo. Normally I wouldn't question windmilling the runner around with two outs in the tenth, but normally the runner isn't Tuiasosopo and the right fielder is not Ankiel.

Minute Maid Park: The only places in baseball where Porcello doesn't have a shutout after seven innings are Williamsport and Minute Maid Park.


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Miguel Cabrera, the only Tiger to supply any offense in the finale against the Twins, took PotG honors with 47% of the vote.