Winning pitcher Max Scherzer (4-0) tossed eight innings, allowing just three hits and one run, striking out eight. Astros starter and loser Lucas Harrell (3-3) allowed ten hits and eight runs in just 4 1/3 innings.
Carlos Corporan homed and singled (celebrating with a bat flip while double digits runs down) for the Astros, accounting for two of six Houston hits. Jason Castro added a ninth inning RBI.
Led by Cabrera, the Tigers had a season high twenty one hits against three Astros pitchers. Torii Hunter joined Cabrera in the four hit club, adding two RBIs. Victor Martinez joined in on the fun with two hits, a home run and four RBIs. Every Detroit starter had at least one base hit.
The game was pretty much over after two innings after the Tigers took a six run lead. It was all stat padding from then on, The Tigers doing to the Astros what had been expected all series - Total destruction of a glorified Triple A team.
Not letting either the shadows covering home plate or Harrlell bother them one bit, the Tigers got right to business in the opening inning.
Austin Jackson signed to left. On a 3-2 hit and run, Hunter pulled a ground ball just past shortstop Ronny Cedeno, Jackson cruising to third. First pitch swinging, Cabrera's soft liner found green in right field for an RBI single, Jackson scoring, Hunter taking third.
After Prince Fielder looked at
a ball strike three, hard luck Martinez took luck right out of the equation, doubling off the garage doors in left center. Hunter scored easily, Cabrera got on his horse to score all the way from first, narrowly beating the relay. The two RBI double giving the Tigers an early 3-0 lead. (MLB.com video)
It was Harrell pitching into some hard luck. His jam shot shattered Jhonny Peralta's bat. But Peralta got enough of the pitch to bloop a single to short right, Martinez crossing the plate to make it a 4-0 game.
Alex Avila struck out looking to end the big inning. The Tigers sent eight men to the plate, four singles, a double and 35 pitches from Harrell later, the Tigers had given starter Max Scherzer a four run cushion.
Hunter started a two out rally in the second by singling, then stealing second. Keep in mind the steal was not your normal "Take off when the pitcher goes into his delivery" steal of second. It was "Everyone on the Astros infield fell asleep while the ball was live" stolen base. The ball live, Hunter took off for second when Harrell's back was turned and his middle infielders were staring off into space, no one within distance of covering the bag. That's veteran smarts, people.
In the words of Rod Allen:
"That was the easiest stolen base he'll ever get."
Cabrera made the Astros pay. Pay big.
On the first pitch to Cabrera, Harrell served up a belt high, 92 MPH fastball. A no-doubt home run the split-second it left Cabrera's bat, he hit the ball so hard he damn near knocked over the brick wall in left. The two run homer was Cabrera's fifth of the season, putting the Tigers up 6-0 after an inning and a half.
Meanwhile, Scherzer was busy shutting down the Astros, having faced the minimum through three innings, striking out four, allowing just one base runner. Robbie Grossman singled in the first, but was eliminated trying to steal.
The Tigers threatened again against the Astros' "Ace" in the fourth. Doing what he does best, show patience at the plate, Avila drew a walk. Omar Infante followed, singling him to second. Harrell walked the bases loaded with one out, Hunter drawing a free pass.
Bases were juiced for Cabrera, who already had three RBIs on the night. Harrell walked his third Tiger of the inning, Cabrera holding up on a 3-2 pitch to drive home Avila. Cabrera's fourth RBI of the night pushed the Tigers' lead to 7-0.
What could have been a big time rally petered out after the one run. Fielder was called out looking on a what looked like ball four, Martinez bouncing to short.
The Tigers finally knocked Harrell out of the game in the fifth. Dirks necked out a lead off walk, and would score all the way from first on Avila's double to the 362 mark in left center.
The Astros down 8-0, Harrell was given the hook, replaced by right-hander Jose Cisnero. He would pitch out of the inning, holding the damage to just one run.
While the Tigers were building their lead, Scherzer was mowing down Astros with no-hit stuff, having faced the minimum through five innings. Unfortunately, the lead off single had taken away any possible drama. Regardless, Scherzer was making the Astros look like a Triple A team.
Top of six, leading off the inning Cabrera went yard for a second time. Cisnero hung a first pitch breaking ball, Cabrera again did his damnedest to knock down the left field wall. The no-doubt solo shot was Cabrera's sixth home run of the season, extending the Tigers' lead to 9-zip. (MLB.com video)
Scherzer finally allowed a second hit with two down in the sixth, Matt Dominguez singling to left. Scherzer would wild pitch Dominguez into scoring position. The ever pesky Grossman worked a 3-2 count, then walked on the same pitch Fielder was punched out on.
Cabrera, already having a marvelous game at the plate, saved a possible shutout and ended the inning with a diving stop of Altuve's ground ball, throwing out Grossman at second from his knees. It was the third time in two games Altuve had been robbed of a base hit by the Tigers' defense. Shocking, I know.
The Tigers stretched their lead to double figures in the seventh with a two out rally.
Avila triggered the rally with a lead off single to center. With two down, Jackson, Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder would single, Cabrera and Fielder each driving home a run to make it a 12-0, officially a laffer.
At that point, Jim Leyland pulled his number three and four hitters, replacing them with Ramon Santiago and Matt Tuiasosopo, respectively.
Scherzer was finally nicked for a run after two were down in the seventh, Corporan finding the right field seats, his second home run of the season pulling the Astros to within eleven runs at 12-1.
Determined to get that run back, Dirks led off the eighth with a fly ball to deep to center field. Grossman was playing shallow, took a long circle route, then gave the ball a kick once it dropped. When all was said and done, Dirks was standing on third with a triple.
Peralta would make it 13-1, doubling into the left field corner. After taking third on a ground ball, Peralta crossed the plate on Infante's grounder to short, which Cedeno booted for an E-6. 14-1 Tigers.
Make it 15-1. Hunter bounced a double into the left field corner, Fernando Martinez kicking the ball around long enough for Infante to score standing up. Tom Brookens was going to hold Infante at third, but the Astros all but allowed him to score by taking their time getting the ball back into the infield.
Scherzer was still in the game in the bottom half of the eighth, walking Rick Ankiel with one out. Santiago would start a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning and Scherzer's great night.
Top of nine, the Tigers kept piling on, taking a sixteen run lead. After Tuiasosopo singled against Paul Clemens, Martinez found the first row of the short porch in left, a true Minute Maid Park special. Martinez's first home run of the year made it a 17-1 game.
Having thrown 105 pitches, Leyland gave Scherzer the ninth inning off, electing to give Al Alburquerque some needed work. The rust showed, allowing three hits, the Astros pushing across a run to pull to within fifteen at 17-2. Altuve doubled, Alburquerque wild pitched him to third, scoring on Castro's single.
Tigers punished the Astros 17-2, scoring in every inning but the third. No need for the late inning heroics we saw in the first two games of the series when you score enough runs to win five batters into the first inning.
Winners of three straight and 9-2 in their last 11 games, the Tigers' victory raises their record to a season high seven over .500 at 18-11. They remain a game up on the second place Kansas City Royals.
The Astros' sad season gets worse, falling to 8-22 on the season, eleven back of the Texas Rangers in the West.
To be blunt, the series finale looks to be a complete and utter mismatch. The Tigers go for the four game sweep, sending their All-World ace, Justin Verlander (3-2, 1.83 ERA) to the mound. He'll face Philip Humber (0-6, 7.58 ERA), who has fallen into the Astros' abyss since throwing a perfect game a little more than a year ago as a member of the White Sox. Fist pitch is 4:10 eastern.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
To the relief of Detroit sports talk radio hosts, Don Kelly was not in tonight's lineup. Jim Leyland fooled us all, going with his everyday starting lineup.
As for the bullpen, everyone but Drew Smyly was available for duty.
Robbie Grossman had played well against the Tigers in the first two games of the series, an annoying thorn in their side. He continued to annoyingly dig under the Tigers' skin with a lead off single in the bottom of the first. Alex Avila, had enough of the annoyance, so he threw out Grossman, annoyingly trying to steal.
Prince Fielder was called out looking twice by home plate umpire Scott Barry in the first and fourth innings. Both punch outs looked borderline, at best. Pitch tracking showed both were balls called strike three. A normally placid Fielder lost his cool after the second K, showing up Barry by standing at the plate incredulously, then vigorously arguing the call. Having said his very wordy piece, a frustrated Fielder walked away and was surprisingly not tossed.
Here's one explanation for Fielder not getting tossed:
"Honestly, Prince, I just feel bad for them. You should too."-Scott Barry— Detroit4lyfe (@Detroit4lyfeRob) May 5, 2013
Andy Dirks nearly got caught up in Minute Maid Field's weirdness on the fourth on a fly ball to deep left center of the bat of
Eddie Gaedel Jose Altuve. His fly ball curved into one of the outfield's strange nook and crannies, much to the amusement of Rod and Mario.
I couldn't agree more with Rogo:
Delmon would have died on that play.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) May 5, 2013
Our own Phil Coke's Brain was in the MLive game thread with Chis Iott. This is the sort of hijinks he was putting up with tonight:
.@mlivecommenter is mad at Prince for not swinging at that called third strike because he gets paid a lot.— Eric Wayne (@PhilCokesBrain) May 5, 2013
Pulled in the fifth inning, Lucas Harrell's line was not pretty: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 4 BB, 3 K. He entered the game with a respectable 3.60 ERA, exited at a no longer respectable 5.03.
Going yard twice, this was Cabrera' 26th multi-home run game of his career. Tonight was also his fifth career six RBI game, which is his career high.
Cabrera is hitting .390/.467/.627. Is it too early to start MVP talk?
The last Tiger to match Cabrera's night, going 4-for-4 or better with at least two home runs and six RBI, was Ryan Raburn in 2007. Bobby Higginson did the same in 2000, Rudy York and Charlie Gehringer both accomplished the feat in 1937.
Our Tigers Prospect Report guys made sure to remind fans to be fair.
Please stop comparing any hitting prospect to Miguel Cabrera. It's not fair to him.— TigersProspectReport (@TigersProspects) May 5, 2013
Things you learn during a blowout while the announcers are killing time: Rod Allen owns an 80 inch television and think Gerald Laird is "A funny cat."
Meanwhile, in Toledo:
Rondon was born to wear that Chewbacca jersey.— Matt Sussman (@suss2hyphens) May 5, 2013
Donnie Baseball sighting in the eighth inning. Don Kelly pinch hit for Austin Jackson, flying out to left.
Little Victor sighting in the ninth inning: He doesn't get excited after dad went yard. Act like you've been there before and will be back, right Victor?
Word of warning. Jim Leyland all but assured us in the post game presser we would see one of his infamous Sunday lineups tomorrow, as neither Torii Hunter or Jhonny Peralta will play.
Interesting choice of words from Leyland in regard to using players late in a blowout:
No one likes these kind of games.
But we do, Jim! We really, really do!
Miguel Cabrera: Doesn't get much better than 4-for-4, two home runs, six RBIs, three runs scored, and an outstanding defensive play. A career night for Cabrera.
Torii Hunter: Almost out did Cabrera with a 4-for-5, two RBI, three runs scored night.
Max Scherzer: Had electric stuff, the Astros never had a chance over his eight innings.
Victor Martinez: Hit his first big fly of the season, two hts and four RBIs.
Alex Avila: Built on his Friday night game winning homer by reaching base three times with two hits, a base on balls and an RBI. Could his season long slump be over?
No need. No need at all.
Detroit Red Wings: Lost in ugly fashion, falling to the Ducks 4-0. The Wings are now down 2-1 in their first round playoff series. (In Comic book Guy voice) Worst power play ever.
GAME THREAD ROLL CALL:
|Roll Call Info|
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
Alex Avila with 81%. Al's son had only one hit, but it was a ninth inning game winning home run.