The Detroit Tigers wasted a lights-out performance by Doug Fister, losing in extra innings fashion to the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0. It's the second time in three games the Tigers have lost to the Pirates 1-0 in 11 innings. The Pirates' pitching staff has held the Tigers to three runs over the past three games, including two shutouts.
Bryan Morris (3-2), the sixth Pirates pitcher, tossed a hitless 11th to receive credit for the victory. Five Pirates relievers combined to allow three base runners on two hits and a walk over the final 5 2/3 innings.
Fister was dominant, shutting out the Pirates on four hits, striking out 12 over seven innings. But just as Rick Porcello was on Tuesday night, Fister was cursed with no run support. After pitching a scoreless tenth, Luke Putkonen (1-1) was unable to get an single out in the 11th, taking the loss.
What little offense the Tigers generated came from two players. Miguel Cabrera had a pair of doubles, Omar Infante also chipping in a pair of hits.
Once again, Neil Walker led the Pirates to victory over the Tigers with two hits, scoring the winning run in the 11th. Russell Martin also had a pair of hits, including the game winner.
Who loses 1-0 in 11 innings twice to the same damn team? The 2013 Detroit Tigers, that's who. To be honest, I could have cut and pasted the recap from Tuesday, just replacing Porcello's name with Fister's.
The Tigers started the game off just as they have the last two, no one able to get a hit with runners in scoring position. In the first inning, Cabrera's two-out ground rule double went to waste as Locke struck out Prince Fielder to end the mini-threat.
There was good and bad Fister in the bottom of the first. On the negative side, he hit another batter, his league-leading 12th. On the plus side, it was Don Kelly's brother-in-law Neil Walker who was the plunkee, who has destroyed the Tigers in the series. With his obligatory HBP out of the way, Fister struck out Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones to end the inning.
A pitcher's duel ensued. Considering how poorly the Tigers have swung the bats in this series, it wasn't a surprise.
Fister struck out the side in the third, giving him seven for the game. The only runner to have reached base had been the afore-plunked Walker. Locke was nearly as good for the Pirates, Cabrera having been the only batter to reach.
After Locke had retired eighth straight, he had to face Cabrera. MLB's leading hitter hit a line drive past short into center. Thinking single all the way, McCutchen took his time getting to the ball. Cabrera took advantage of the Pirates napping by aggressively rounding first and easily beating the throw for a leg double.
But the Tigers would once again waste a Cabrera two-base hit. Fielder bounced out to first, Jhonny Peralta punched out looking, Locke pitching himself out of a jam.
Any talk of a Fister no-hitter ended in the bottom half of the fourth. Of course it was Walker who had the first hit for the Buccos, a lead-off single. Walker attempted to steal second, but an excellent throw by Brayan Pena nailed him.
The caught-stealing would cost the Pirates a run, as McCutchen and Jones followed up with back-to-back singles, Runners on the corners and just one out, Fister struck out Martin, who went fishing for a pitch so far outside it was nearer the Tigers' dugout than home plate. Travis Snider lined out to left to end the threat, Fister keeping the game in a scoreless tie.
Matt Tuiasosopo surprised everyone, including himself, leading off the fifth with an opposite field single to right. Pena singled him to second, Avisail Garcia then bounced a ground ball through the right side, the third straight single. Despite there being no one out, third base coach Tom Brookens decided to send the not exactly fleet-of-foot Tuiasosopo. Snider's throw from short left was right on the money, Tuiasosopo was gunned down at the plate.
Brookens' decision to wave around Tuiasosopo around looked even worse after Fister dribbled a ground ball though the left side, the fourth straight Tigers hit. Discretion being the better part of valor, Pena was held at third, the bases now loaded.
Playing third base, ex-daily FSD player of the game Brandon Inge leaped high to haul in Infante's high chopper, throwing home to force Pena for the second out.
Andy Dirks ended the inning and another Tigers' threat by bouncing out to second. Locke had dodged another bullet and the score remained tied.
Locke kept living dangerously in the sixth. One down, Fielder singled, then Locke walked .143 hitting Ramon Santiago. Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle smartly figured if you're issuing free passes to the likes of Santiago, it's time to call the bullpen. Right-hander Vin Mazzaro answered the call. Mazzaro extinguished the rally post haste, striking out Tuiasosopo and Pena grounding out 5-3.
At this point, the Tigers had scored in just one of their last 27 (!!!) innings. Since the Tigers scored two runs in the seventh on Monday, the only inning they had hung a number other than zero on the scoreboard was the fifth on Wednesday.
Fister needed all of his 6' 8" frame to get the first out in the bottom of the sixth. He raced off the mound to grab Starling Marte's swinging bunt, then dove toward the first base bag as he exchanged the ball from his glove to his hand, flipping the ball to Fielder, who snatched it out of the air bare-handed. The defensive gem helped keep the game scoreless as we headed to the seventh.
Entering the night with same batting average as his OBP (.231), Garcia led off the seventh with his first walk of the season. Fister channeled his inner NL pitcher, laying down a sacrifice bunt to move Garcia into scoring position. Infante bounced a hard-hit single through the left side. No worries, folks! Brookens held Garcia at third, giving the Tigers runners at the corners with one down and Dirks at the plate.
Dirks was retired on a pop fly to short left for the second out, leaving it up to Cabrera. The Pirates decided to pitch to Cabrera, and got away with it. First pitch swinging, Cabrera meekly bounced out 4-3.
Leaving runners in scoring position for the fifth time in seven innings, the Tigers had failed to follow through on more threats than you'll see in a comment thread in The Detroit News.
The game still knotted 0-0 going into the bottom of the eighth, Fister would be the second Tigers' starter in three games to pitch seven or more scoreless innings, only to be rewarded with Jim Leyland's "Handshake of Doom" and a no-decision. Porcello shut out the Pirates for eight innings on Tuesday night, a game the Tigers would lose 1-0 in 11 innings. Tonight, Fister shut out the Pirates on just four hits over seven excellent innings.
Joaquin Benoit took over for Fister, and immediately allowed the lead off man to reach. Figures.
Pinch hitter Josh Harrison singled, then as is the NL way, was sacrificed to second. With two down, McCutchen hit a scorching one-hopper which had "game-winning RBI single to left" written all over it. But Cabrera, who baseball pundits claimed would be a disaster at the hot corner a little more than a year ago, saved Benoit's bacon. Taking a step to his left, Cabrera made a diving stop, scrambled to his feet, and fired an on the money throw to nip the speedy McCutchen by a step at first.
Infante gave the Tigers a shot at taking the lead in the top of the ninth with a two-out double of Justin Wilson. Dirks hit the ball hard, but to the wrong part of PNC Park. McCutchen ran down his fly ball on the warning track in right center. Another scoreless inning for the Tigers was in the books.
Phil Coke got the call from Leyland to start the bottom of the ninth. One down after Fielder made an excellent over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory, Martin hit a ground ball up the middle. Santiago got there in time, but couldn't make the play, the ball glancing off his glove into center. Martin was given a gift single by the official scorer.
It was Coke versus Inge with two down, the tying run still at first. Inge made a bid to win the game on the first pitch, hitting a fly to deep left which looked as if it had home run distance off the bat. Tigers fans ready to have a conniption fit (or worse) breathed a sigh of relief when the fly ran out of steam just short of the warning track, Tuiasosopo making the catch.
For the second time in three games, the Tigers and Pirates would head into extra innings in a scoreless tie. Just another reason why baseball is a funny game.
Facing Mark Melancon in the top of the tenth, the Tigers went down in order (what a shock!). Luke Putkonen would do the same to the Pirates, tossing a 1-2-3 bottom half.
Morris pitched the top of the 11th for the Pirates, retiring the Tigers in order. Next verse, same as the first.
The bother-in-law from Hell led off the bottom of the tenth. Of course he would reach, Walker building his Tiger Killer cred with a single. Putkonen would dig himself a deeper hole by walking McCutchen. When Gaby Sanchez singled to left to load the bases, the result was inevitable.
A Shrimp Alert issued, the Tigers pulled in both the infield and outfield with Martin at the plate. It didn't make a bit of difference. Martin launched a fly ball off the base of the wall in left center, Tuiasosopo not even bothering to chase it. In this case, what would have been a bases-clearing double was a game-winning RBI single.
A miserable offensive game over.
For the second time in three games, your final score is Pirates 1, Tigers 0 in 11 innings. The Tigers have scored in just one of their last 32 innings.
I'm at a loss to explain just what in the Hell has happened in this series. To see a team shutout twice in extra innings is rare. But to see it twice in three games? It boggles the mind.
Having lost three of four to the Pirates, the 29-23 Tigers remain in first place, but their lead in the Central is down to 1/2 game over the Indians. The 34-20 Pirates are on a tear, an 8-2 record in their last ten games moving them into sole possession of second place in the NL Central, two games back of the Cardinals.
Friday night, it's back to what we know and love -- American League baseball! The Tigers will travel to Baltimore for a three-game weekend series with the Orioles. Undefeated Max Scherzer (7-0, 3.42 ERA) faces Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (2-2, 3.94 ERA). First pitch is 7:05 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Miguel Cabrera's first inning double was another milestone in a career full of them.
Miggy knocks his 400th career double. Congrats Miggy!— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) May 30, 2013
Doug Fister's hit-by-pitch count is now 12. Fister plunked Tiger Killer Neil Walker in first inning, raising his league leading total to an even dozen. As of tonight's first inning, Fister has hit more batters than he's walked, 12-to-10.
Posting Matt Sussman's GIF is mandatory whenever Fister plunks someone.
We all know Cabrera is on a near MLB-record pace for RBIs. Turns out Fister is also on pace to not only break, but smash a record. He can blow MLB's single-season HBP record out of the water.
No MLB pitcher has hit 22 batters in a season since former Tiger Howard Ehmke in 1922. Doug Fister is now more than halfway there on May 30.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) May 30, 2013
Doug Fister entered the season with 27 career HBPs. At 12 right now. On pace to more than double his career total.— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) May 30, 2013
Mario Impemba's quote of the day was blurted out after home plate human element Manny Gonzalez was hit in the groinal region by a foul tip in the top of the fourth: "JACKPOT!"
The human element got into it with Peralta between innings. FSD's replay showed Jhonny Peralta had made it known he was unhappy with a strikeout call while heading to his position in the fourth. After exchanging pleasantries, Peralta's hand gesture of waving the human element off was just too much for Gonzalez, who tossed him. This being his first career ejection, the display was completely out of the ordinary for the normally mild-mannered Peralta.
I can't even imagine Jhonny Peralta getting worked up enough to argue.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) May 31, 2013
Matt Tuiasosopo was thrown out at home in the fifth, leading to the usual cries of "Tom Brookens is a poor man's Gene Lamont" from the fan base. To give Brookens credit, Travis Snider's throw was perfect. You can't anticpate that. But to ding Brookens, this wasn't the first time this season Tuiasosopo had been thrown out at the plate. I'm not sure sending him was worth the risk. Tuiasosopo can't run well, the replay showed he stutter-stepped after rounding the bag, as if he wasn't expecting to be windmilled home. Worse, even with the pitcher due up, there was still no one out. It just felt like Brookens took the wrong time to force the issue. I doubt he makes the same decision if the Tigers were playing under AL rules.
Going into tonight's game, Fister had been the only Tigers starter to not have a ten-strikeout appearance. That changed tonight. Fister hit double digits for the first time this season when Garrett Jones went down swinging to end the sixth. It was the fourth career 10-plus K game for the Tall Man.
The human element struck again in the bottom of the seventh, blowing two calls in the Pirates' favor in the same play. Brandon Inge sent a flair into short center, Omar Infante made a marvelous over the shoulder catch. Meanwhile, Travis Snider had rounded second and was heading back to first. Replays showed Snider never retouched second. There's the first blown call. Infante's throw to first was off line, but Fielder's sweep tag caught Snider on the backside as he slid head-first into first. In the eyes of umpire Tony Randazzo, the play never happened. Snider was called safe, making for the second missed call in approximately ten seconds. Luckily, Fister was able to pitch around the human element, taking matters into his own hands by striking out the next two Pirates.
You know things have gone south on offense when the Tigers' official Twitter is forced to tweet clips of Fielder making a defensive play.
Lee Panas confirms just how bizarre the past three games have been:
The last time the Tigers got shutout in extra innings twice in the same year was 1985.— tiger337 (@tiger337) May 31, 2013
Keep in mind, that's In the SAME YEAR. We just saw it happen in the SAME SERIES over THREE GAMES.
Doug Fister: For the second time in three games a Tigers starter is lights out, yet has nothing to show for it. Fister allowed four hits, no runs, one walk and struck out a dozen in seven innings, adding on a base hit of his own. Given absolutely no run support, Fister was rewarded with a no-decision.
Miguel Cabrera: A pair of doubles and a game-saving defensive play will always earn a ROAR.
Omar Infante: Two hits, gave the Tigers a chance to win the game in the ninth.
The Tigers' offense: Last seen on Memorial Day in Detroit. Has anyone made a missing offense report with the proper authorities?
Andy Dirks: A rough game at the plate. Dirks necked out an 0-for-5 night, stranding six in the process.
Luke Putkonen: Allowed all four Pirates he faced in the 11th to reach base. Game over.
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Miguel Cabrera and his two-run home run topped Don Kelly and his career-high three walks, 54% to 29%.