The Boston Red Sox took an early lead, withstood a Detroit Tigers rally, then plated three late insurance runs to ultimately win going away, 10-6.
Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester (7-4) received credit for the victory, ending a six start losing streak. Lester was tagged for a pair of home runs, allowing five runs on nine hits. But Lester managed to hand around for 5 2/3 innings, long enough to earn his first win since May 15.
Tigers' starter Doug Fister (6-5) was pulled after 3 1/3 innings, his second shortest stint of the season. The Red Sox nicked up Fister for 11 hits and 6 runs, who struck out a very uncharacteristic zero batters. The Red Sox would tack on four runs off four Tigers relievers.
The Red Sox's top of the order destroyed Tigers' pitching, the one through three hitters combining for eight hits and eight RBIs. Number two hitting Shane Victorino was the offensive star of the night with a home run and five RBIs as part of a 4-for-5 night. Lead off man Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits, including a two RBI double. Number three hitter Dustin Pedroia chipped in two hits and an RBI.
The Red Sox could not retire Miguel Cabrera, who had a three run home run as part of his 4-for-4 night. Andy Dirks also hit a solo home run for the Tigers, Torii Hunter added two hits and two runs scored.
What is there to say about a game when Shane Victorino goes nuts? When Victorino enters the game with 11 runs batted in, and ends the night with 16 thanks to a career high tying five RBIs, the odds are good it just isn't your night. It definitely wasn't the Tigers' night, the Red Sox taking their pound of flesh for last night's walk off loss.
Two batters into the game, the Tigers found themselves down 1-0. Victorino got enough of a Fister's 3-1 inside fastball to wrap a fly ball around the right field foul pole. His third home run of the season gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers threatened but failed to score in their half of the first, Lester receiving help from a pitcher's best friend.
With one down, Hunter yanked a double down the left field line. Cabrera followed by bouncing a single to left. Forced to wait and see if the ball got out of the infield, Hunter was forced to stop at third. Then came the best buddy of pitchers everywhere, the tailor made 6-4-3 double play. Prince Fielder lined a one-hopper to Stephen Drew, and the inning was over before you could say, "DAMMIT PRINCE!"
Top of the second, it would be the Red Sox's turn to strand a runner in scoring position. Mike Napoli led off the inning with a single, advancing to third on consecutive ground outs. But Drew couldn't come through with a two out hit, popping up to short left to end the threat.
The Tigers threatened again in the second,but actually converted this time around.
Slow of foot and bad of knee Victor Martinez led off with an historic event, legging out an infield single. Last night's hero Jhonny Peralta singled to center, moving Martinez forward 90 feet. It looked as if that is where they would remain for the rest of the second. Avisail Garcia, starting in center in place of an injured Austin Jackson, struck out swinging. Dirks, still struggling at the plate, hitting just .238, sent a can of corn to center for out number two. Brayan Pena battled Lester to a full count, then slapped an RBI single through the right side, Martinez beating the throw to tie the game at 1-all.
Another half inning, another threat, but this time, another run. The Red Sox would retake the lead on two singles and ground out.
With one down, Ellsbury singled to right, then raced to third on Victorino's second straight hit, also a single to right. Cabrera made a nice bare-hand grab and off-balance throw on Pedroia's RBI dribbler to get the second out of the inning, but Ellsbury crossed the plate to make it 2-1 Red Sox.
First base open and not wanting to mess with Big Papi, Jim Leyland ordered David Ortiz intentionally walked in order to pitch to Napoli. The strategy worked, Napoli bounced out to second to end the threat.
After Fielder hit into his second straight inning ending double play in the bottom of the third, the Red Sox put a runner in scoring position for the fourth straight inning in what was becoming Fister's version of a "Death by papercuts" game. Not hitting the ball particularly hard but finding holes, the bottom of the Red Sox order would load the bases with three straight one out singles off the bats of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Drew and Jose Iglesias.
Then came the back-breaking hits.
Ellsbury lined a double down the right field line to score two. Runners on second and third, Victorino singled past a sprawling Omar Infante to drive home two more, making it a 6-1 game. Pedroia singled though the hole in the left side for the sixth straight hit for the Red Sox. Fister wasn't getting hit hard, but he wasn't missing bats either.
Fister having allowed four runs on six straight hits and not wanting to game to get completely out of reach, Leyland made the call for Darin Downs out of the bullpen. Downs needed just one pitch to stop the bleeding, Ortiz bouncing into a 4-6-3 twin killing.
Down 6-1, the Tigers countered ... by going down in order against Lester. While Red Sox ground balls were finding green, the Tigers' were ending up in BoSox leather.
After Downs needed only seven pitches to retire the side in the fifth (helped by Hunter's spectacular outfield assist on a 9-3 double play), the Tigers finally countered after allowing five unanswered runs. Dirks led off the bottom of the fifth by drilling a Lester breaking ball over the right field wall and into the Belle Tire tarp for a solo home run, his sixth of the season.
Pena channelled his inner Red Sox, dropping a bloop single into short right. With one out, Hunter singled to left, giving Cabrera a shot at an RBI.
Cabrera did more than get himself an RBI. He got himself three. The leading hitting in the major leagues reached out and golfed Lester's off speed pitch into the left field bullpen for a three run homer/ The Earl Weaver Special was his 20th home run of the season, giving Cabrera an MLB leading 74 RBI. (MLB.com video)
Lester would allow the tying run to reach base, walking Martinez with two out, before ending the Tigers' uprising on a Peralta fly out. But the Tigers had made it a ball game again, scoring four runs on four hits, going yard twice against Lester to pull within a run of the Red Sox at 6-5..
Downs allowed his first two hits of the game in the top of the sixth, which would lead to the Red sox extending their lead. After one was out, Iglesias slapped an opposite field line drive down the right field line. Hunter played the ball expecting it to bounce back toward him. But it didn't hit the fence kick out, instead rolling all the way into the right field corner. Iglesias would end up with a three base hit. With two down, Victorino continued to absolutely kill the Tigers, his fourth straight hit, a two out RBI single, would extend the Red Sox lead to 7-5.
Lester was pulled with two out and a runner on first, Red Sox skipper John Farrell calling on Junichi Tazawa. He would get the final out of the sixth, Infante flying out to deep center.
After last night's not so good outing, Leyland went right back to Phil Coke in the top of the seventh. But this was in an appropriate situation, facing Ortiz. But right-hand bats were on deck (Napoli) and in the hole (the switch hitting Nava). Coke lived up to his splits, Ortiz weakly grounding out to second. He then beat his splits, Napoli bouncing to third, Nava striking out swinging.
Bottom of seven, after Cabrera singled with one down in the bottom of the seventh, Farrell wanted the left-handed Craig Breslow to face Fielder. Just as he did in the eighth inning last night, Fielder hit the ball hard, but to the wrong part of Comerica Park. His long drive died a few feet short of the warning track in right center's Death Valley for the second out. Fielder couldn't buy a base hit tonight, much to the Tigers' detriment, as Cabrera was ultimately stranded at first.
With just recalled from Triple-A Toledo Al Alburquerque warming up. Coke remained on the mound to start the eighth. Just as last night, Coke pitched himself into trouble by walking the damn lead off man, this time the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia. Coke fell behind in the count 2-1 to Drew, then serving up a belt-high fastball. Drew jumped all over it, drilling a double into the right field corner, Saltalamacchia holding at third. It was deja vu all over again,
Alburquerque was tossed from the frying pan into the fire, replacing Coke with two runners in scoring position and no one out. The infield well in, Alburquerque got the first out when Iglesias bounced out to second.
Leyland then elected to load the bases, intentionallty walking Ellsbury in order to pitch to Victorino, who was 4-for-4. Victorino didn't get much of Alburquerque's slider, sending a high chopper to short. Perlata charged the ball, fired home for the force on Saltalamacchia ... who was called safe by home plate umpire Mike DiMuro, replays confirming he blew the call.
Saltalamacchia was called safe on the same sort of slide Fielder has been called out more than once in the past, one leg high over the plate with the other tucked underneath. The lead off walk combined with the blown call had cost the Tigers a run. (Not that the run made all that much difference in the game, but let's get the damn calls correct!)
After Pedroia popped out, the one thing you fear with Alburquerque (other than walks, anyway) allowed another run ti score. Alburquerque snapped off a slider into the dirt, Pena was unable to corral the wild pitch which allowed the second run of the inning to score. When the dust had settled, the Red Sox found themselves up 9-5, both runs charged to Coke.
Though an inning remained to be played, that, as they say, was that.
The Red Sox tacked on their tenth run of the game off Evan Reed in the ninth inning. After Drew singled with two out, Garcia made a rookie mistake, overrunning Iglesias' single. The ball rolled well behind Garcia, which allowed Drew to score standing up all the way from first.
The Red Sox now holding a comfortable 10-5 lead, it made for an ex-Tiger alert in the bottom of the ninth. Andrew Miller, one of the centerpieces of the trade which brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit, came on to pitch in garbage time. He allowed a run on a Fielder's choice. Hunter walked, Cabrera singled him the third. Hunter would score on Fielder's bouncer to second, making the final score look a little closer than it actually was.
Speaking of which, your final score is Red Sox 10, Tigers 6.
Game over. A very meh game over. A very meh game for the Tigers, to be sure. One of those games in a long season where it's just not worth the effort getting all that worked up over. The Red Sox were just plain better than the Tigers tonight. That shouldn't be a surprise, being we're watching two of the American League's first place teams. The Tigers were never going to walk all over the Red Sox, as nice of a thought it may be.
The loss drops the Tigers' lead in the Central to three games over the Indians, who beat the Twins 5-1. The ever inconsistent Tigers fall 40-32, having played .500 ball over their last ten games. The Tribe have ridden a 7-3 streak to get their record back over .500 at 37-35.
Game three of the Red Sox-Tigers series is one of FOX Network's Saturday night regional telecasts. Rookie Allen Webster (0-1, 11.74 ERA) will be called up from Triple-A Pautucket after tonight's game to make his third major league start Saturday. In his last spot start for the Red Sox on May 8, Webster was shelled for eight runs in 1 2/3 innings in a loss to the Twins. For the Tigers, Max Scherzer (10-0, 3.08 ERA) goes for his league leading 11th win. On track for an All-Star game berth, Scherzer has at least six strikeouts in 14 straight games and a 1.93 ERA in his last six starts. First pitch is 7:15 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
There was one major lineup change for the Tigers tonight. Austin Jackson sat out with what the Tigers termed left leg soreness, in the same area if the hamstring injury which placed him on the disabled list for a month. In seven games since coming off the DL, Jackson has been on a tear, hitting .393/.452/.500. The fact the leg is still giving Jackson issues is concerning, leg injuries can linger all season long.
Prince Fielder finds himself in his second long home run drought of the season. Fielder hadn't gone yard in 20 games when he homed in three consecutive games between June 1-4. He hasn't hit another since. Fielder entered tonight without a big fly in 15 games, hitting an un-Prince like .288/.344/.356. Fielder's struggles continued tonight, accounting for four of the Tigers' first nine outs, bouncing into easy double plays in his first two at bats in an 0-for-5 night.
FSD has fallen in love with their nose-bleed cam, giving us an awful view of the game:
@Detroit4lyfeRob I give it two more weeks before they get sick of their new annoying toy. I hope.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) June 21, 2013
Victor Martinez being waved around to score makes an angst-filled fan base fear the worst:
I admit I cringed when Brookens sent VMart but it worked out. Nice piece of hitting from Peña too.— Alexandra Simon (@catswithbats) June 21, 2013
The media couldn't help but notice Martinez's struggle to score as well:
OK, feel free to exhale. Victor's knee didn't explode. I know, I'm surprised, too.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) June 21, 2013
V-Mart beats out the infield single, scores from 2nd on single, limps back to dugout. Painful just to watch him run.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) June 21, 2013
The solution is obvious. Martinez needs a designated runner. Considering he entered the game hitting .226, some would say he needs a designated hitter, too.
Torii Hunter made a marvelous defensive play in the fifth. On the hit and run with Mike Napoli on the bases, Hunter deked losing the ball in the lights on what was a fly to medium right off the bat of Daniel Nava.
The deke bought Hunter enough time to charge the ball, come up throwing, and firing a bullet to Fielder to double up Napoli. A smart, veteran play by Hunter.
Remembering the bad old days after Miguel Cabrera's three run homer:
Food for thought: Miguel Cabrera has 74 RBI. Dmitri Young led the 43-win Tigers of 2003 with 85 RBI. Craig Monroe was second with 70.— Tigers Talk 24/7 (@Tiger_Talk_247) June 22, 2013
On second thought, I'd rather not think about one of the worst teams in baseball history, even if the Da Meat Hook was on that team.
In the seventh inning, Rod Allen mentioned his playing days in Japan. EVERYONE DRINK!
Sometimes Cabrera can hit the ball too hard. Well, almost too hard, having to leg out a single to right field.
Cabrera hit an opposite-field single hard enough he had to hustle to avoid 9-3 putout at 1st base. Laughing with Victorino over that one.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 22, 2013
After Jarrod Saltalamacchia was incorrectly called safe at home in the eighth, this pretty much encapsulates my feelings on MLB umpiring:
Umpires. Bad for you. Bad for America.— Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley) June 22, 2013
One piece of advice,. NEVER listen to sports talk radio after a Tigers loss:
Guy on 97.1 insisting Cabrera is a bad hitter with 2 outs and RISP. Also Tigers being 4th w/2 outs and RISP means they can't get it going.— Alexandra Simon (@catswithbats) June 22, 2013
On second thought, just don't listen to sports talk radio, period.
Post game, Leyland bemoaned wearing out his bullpen:
Leyland: "What’s happened is, three out of four, we’ve been in the bullpen pretty early, and that’ll wear out anybody’s bullpen." #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) June 22, 2013
Miguel Cabrera: Absolutely unstoppable, four hits, a home run, three RBIs and a run scored.
Darin Downs: Pressed into early duty due to Fister's paper cuts, Downs was solid in 2 2/3 innings of relief. He kept the Tigers in the game, allowing one run on three hits.
Torii Hunter: Two hits, two runs scored and a marvelous defensive play.
HISSES, HISSES AND EVEN MORE HISSES:
Doug Fister: This was his version of Rick Porcello's "Death by papercuts" game. Pulled after 3 1/3 innings haivng allowed six runs, Fister was sliced into submission with 11 hits, nine of them singles, the majority of which were ground balls which found holes. Regardless, Fister wasn't at his best, not striking out a single batter.
Prince Fielder: Not a good night at the plate for the big man, grounding into a pair of inning ending double plays in his first two at bats on his way to an 0-for-5 game.
Omar Infante: Replaced an injured Austin Jackson as the lead off man, and was a sorry facsimile of one in an 0-for-5 performance.
Avisail Garcia: Awful night in his return from Triple-A, 0-for-4 with an error allowing the final run to score.
Phil Coke: Had a great seventh inning, and he would have received a ROAR if he didn't come out for the eighth. But he did, allowing a walk and a double before getting the hook. Both runners would come around to score, thanks to...
Al Alburquerque: His ERA is a shiny 2.93, but Al-Al allowed both inherited runners to score (admittedly with help from a bad call), walked two (one intentionally) and tossed a wild pitch in an inning of work. Seems the time spent at Triple-A didn't change much.
MLB umpiring: UGH.
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For making the "The Tigers can't score in the late innings" narrative moot with a walk off home run, Jhonny Peralta carried the PofG vote with 76%.
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