The Tampa Bay Rays schooled prize rookie reliever Bruce Rondon, taking down the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in ten innings. Called on to pitch the tenth, Rondon couldn't get out of the inning. He served up three singles, including the game winner to Yunel Escobar.
Rays closer Fernando Rodney (3-2) received credit for the win, pitching a scoreless ninth and tenth. The Rays bullpen shut down the Tigers, three relievers combining to allow just three hits, holding the Tigers scoreless over the final five innings. Starter Chris Archer was knocked out of the game after five innings, allowing all three Tigers runs.
The third Tigers pitcher of the night, Rondon (0-1) suffered his first career loss, allowing three hits and a run in just 2/3 of an inning. Starter Justin Verlander had his longest outing of the season, scattering nine hits while allowing three runs, two earned, in eight innings. But Verlander also gave up the game tying solo home run to Luke Scott in the eighth, sending the game into extras.
Offensively for the Rays, Escobar had two hits and the game winning RBI. Ben Zobrist and James Loney each had three hits and an RBI, Scott coming through with the big game tying homer. For the Tigers, Austin Jackson homered and walked twice, Jhonny Peralta had a two RBI single and Victor Martinez singled three times. But the Tigers were held scoreless after the third inning, which would be the difference in the game.
The Tigers are now 2-9 in extra inning games, which begs a which came first, chicken or the egg style question. Is the lack off extra inning success because of their lack of late inning offense or due to their often off kilter bullpen?
Jackson has been an OBP machine since coming off the DL, getting on base at a .492 clip his last 13 games. He kept alive his streak of reaching base, making it 14 straight games with a lead off walk. Jackson advanced to second on Miguel Cabrera's bounce out. Archer, battling command issues, going to a three ball count on the fourth straight batter, walked Fielder. Archer managed to pitch out of self-induced trouble by striking out Martinez on his 28th pitch of the inning.
Verlander got himself into a two out jam in the bottom half of the first, allowing back-to-back singles to Zobrist and Loney. Verlander fell behind in the count to uber-rookie Wil Meyers 3-0, battled back to a full count, then ending the threat when Meyers sent a can of corn to Don Kelly in right. Verlander was only a touch more efficient than Archer with a 24 pitch first inning.
Omar Infante gave the Tigers a shot at a two out rally in the second. Matt Joyce went for the hero play, diving for Infante's sinking liner, but came up empty, playing a single into a two out double. But Brayan Pena couldn't come through with a two out hit, bouncing to third to end the mini-threat.
A smoking hot Jackson made Max Scherzer quite happy (Mr. 12-0 was being interviewed by Kenny Albert during the at bat) by launching a lead off fly ball to the opposite field which found the first row of the right field seats. Jackson's fourth home run of the season (a rare opposite field shot) gave the Tigers a 1--0 lead.
The Tigers remained on a roll while Scherzer was enjoying himself on the air. Cabrera bounced a one out single through the hole in the left side. With two down, Martinez bounced a single up the middle. Archer's wild pitch moved both runners 90 feet, which ended up costing him a run. Jhonny Peralta looped a 1-2 pitch into short center, both runners crossing the plate on the single to put the Tigers up 3-0.
One down in the bottom half of the third, Verlander severed up a first pitch
meatball fastball smack dab in the middle of the plate to Desmond Jennings. Jennings jumped all over it, drilling a stand up triple into the gap in right center. going by Baseball 101, the Tigers exchanged an out for run, playing the infield back. Zobrist earned an RBI by bouncing out to second, shrinking the Tigers' lead to 3-1.
Verlander got himself into more two out trouble in the fourth. Meyers' reached on an infield Twins Hit, but was elminated on a nicely turned 4-6-3 double play. But Verlander proceeded to walk the next two Rays, .246 hitting Escobar and .261 hitting Molina. Having extended the inning thanks to spurts of lacking command, Verlander needed a quick out. He got it, Kelly Johnson first pitch swinging into a 5-4 fielder's choice.
Top of five, Cabrera singled with one out. He then advanced to third on back-to-back sliders in the dirt with two down and Martinez at the plate. The Tigers couldn't take advantage of the gift wild pitches (which could have been ruled passed balls on Molina), Martinez ending the inning with a chopper to second on what was liklely the final pitch of the game for Archer.
Fielder made two errors on Joyce's ground ball leading off the bottom of the fifth, but was just charged with one. Fielder went to backhand Joyce's ground ball, but booted it. Verlander was at the bag, but Fielder hurried his throw, which was both high and behind Verlander, Joyce safe at tfirst. Fielder was charged with a throwing error on the play.
Zobrist's one out single to right sent Joyce to third. Fielder's error ended up costing the Tigers a run, Loney sending Verlander's 0-2 pitch on a line to right for an RBI single. The unearned run made it 3-2 Tigers. It stayed that way, Verlander inducing Meyers to ground into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.
Top of six, Joe Maddon changed pitchers, going with left-hander Alex Torres and his 0.43 ERA. Torres struck out two, setting the Tigers down in order on just ten pitches. Verlander had a fairly stress free inning as well, save for walking Molina a second time.
Verlander had allowed just one earned run through six, the Tigers still clinging to a 3-2 lead as the game rolled into the seventh.
Bottom of seven, Verlander committed a pitching Cardinal sin, walking the lead off man, in this case, Joyce. One down, Zobrist continued to cause trouble, his ground ball finding space between Fielder and Infante, the single sending Joyce to third.
Then came the play of the game for the Tigers.
Loney sent a high chopper toward second. It didn't appear to be hit hard enough to turn two, but Infante (who was having a great defensive game), Peralta and Fielder combined to turn a run saving, inning ending, Verlander fist pumping 4-6-3 twin killing, nipping Loney by half a step.
One down in the eighth, Jennings misplayed Martinez's single, kicking it away, the error allowing Martinez to take second. But Martinez would advance no further. Peralta flew out to right, Kelly's checked swing ground ball ended the inning.
Both Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit were up and throwing in the bullpen, but despite a pitch count of 106, Verlander was still on the mound to start the eighth. Leaving Verlander in the game was a questionable decision st best, considering the number high leverage pitches he was forced to make having allowed eight hits and four walks through seven.
Leaving Verlander in the game came back to bite Leyland, big time. With one down came the Rays' play of the game.
Tiger Killer Scott found the first row of the right field seats to tie the game at 3-3. Of course Luke Scott hit a home run. It what he does against the Tigers.
Verlander ended the inning without further incident, but it would be up to the Tigers' offense to rescue him from receiving a no-decision. The same offense Leyland called out for their lack of scoring after losing 3-1 to the Angels on Wednesday.
Top of nine came the ex-Tiger with a cooked cap sighting. Pitching in a non-save situation in the ninth was Rodney . Deja vu for Tigers fans as he pitched into, and out of, trouble. Pena reached out for a pitch out of the zone and yanked a liner down the right field line for a one out double for the Food Truck. But rodney bore down, getting Jackson to pop up and outright blowing away Avisail Garcia on four pitches.
There was no way in Hell Verlander was coming out for the ninth. So it was Drew Smyly pitching the bottom of the ninth. All he did was strike out the side, making the decision to use Verlander instead of Smyly in the eighth even more second guessable.
The game rolled on into extra innings. That did not bode well for the Tigers, if you go by their 2-8 record in extras this season.
Maddon rolled the dice with Rodney in the tenth, riding his closer for a second inning. After backing Cabrera off the plate with a head high inside fastball, Rodney struck him out on a breaking ball. A visibly upset Cabrera believed Rodney was head hunting. Cabrera pointed at his head and jawed at Rodney all the way into the dugout.
Two down, Martinez kept the inning alive with his third hit of the game, a single up the middle. But Rodney ate up Peralta, who weakly bounced to third to end the inning.
Bottom of ten, it was take two for Rondon. The big rookie was making his first appearance for the Tigers since allowing two hits, two walks and two runs in 1/3 of an inning against the Twins on May 1. Loney singled with one out, and was replaced by pinch runner Sam Fuld. Rondon got himself into deeper trouble, Meyers singling Fuld to second, putting a runner in scoring position for the Tiger Killer, Scott.
Scott worked the count to 3-2, but struck out swinging on a wicked off speed pitch. Two down and Yunel Escobar at the plate, Rondon bounced a first pitch breaking ball in the dirt, the wild pitch moving the runners to second and third. Ahead in the count 2-0, Ecobar ended the game by lining a single over the head of Jackson, who was playing mysteriously shallow with two out. The ball didn't appear to be hit that hard, but Jackson, who was playing awfully far in, never had a chance. All he could do was wave his glove in vain as the ball sailed past him for a game winning single.
Your final score is Rays 4, Tigers 3. God dammit.
Bruce Rondon continues on his quest to make everyone scratch their heads. He's lights out in Triple-A and we saw him make some awfully good pitches against the Rays. But 100 MPH fastball or not, in four appearances with the Tigers his WHIP is 3.33, ERA is 12.00 and he's failed to perform when used in high leverage situatiuons. Regardless, we knew Rondon was going to make rookie mistakes. Better to make them now than in September, and far better than running Jose Valverde out there. Rondon still has tons of upside, though we've yet to see it.
But if you really want to throw blame around, point it toward the offense. The Tigers should be capable of far more than than three runs off of Chris Archer and not scoring anytime after the third inning. I'm sure that's the first thing Leyland will point out when he's asked about Rondon.
The hot topic after the game with Leyland was Rodney and Cabrera.
Jim Leyland on the ball near Cabrera's head: "We won't tolerate that. ... There's a price to pay for that."— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) June 30, 2013
The old (expletive) about the one getting away, he's pitched long enough that they don't get away up there in that area, in my opinion. That won't be tolerated. You can take that to the bank. That's not acceptable.
The Rays deny all.
Sunday is the final game between the Tigers and Rays this season. The odds of something going down (Beanball war? Baseball fight?) just went up exponentially.
Now 2-9 in extra inning games, the Tigers fall to 43-36 on the season with the loss. Worse, their lead in the Central is down to just one game over the Indians, who are feasting on the White Sox at the moment. Over the past ten games, the Tigers are 4-6, the Tribe 7-3. Thanks a ton, White Sox.
The series rubber game features Rick Porcello (4-5, 5.27 ERA) taking on Jeremy Hellickson (6-3, 5.11 ERA). After a nine game stretch where Porcello was 4-1, 2.84, he's 0-2, 11.32 in his last two starts. Hellickson has been up and down all season, but is coming off his best game of the season, a seven inning, one hit performance against the Blue Jays. First pitch is an odd ball 1:40 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Before the game, Jim Leyland announced Al Alburquerque would not pitch tonight. As for de facto closer Joaquin Benoit, Leyland wasn't sure he could use him.
Another Saturday on FOX, another blackout for most of the country, another game with Kenny Albert and Tom Verducci in the broadcast booth. Why does MLB hate America? For that matter, why does MLB hate their fans so damn much?
Thanks to Phil Coke's Brain, tonight I learned there is a Brayan Pena home run tracker on Twitter - @BPenaHomerCount. Whomever is behind the account, they are in no danger of coming down with carpal tunnel.
2— BrayanPenaHomeruns (@BPenaHomerCount) May 12, 2013
In the second inning, Verducci informed us Jose Molina can't run. Really? A Molina that is slow? Who knew?
I have to agree:
Max Scherzer is giving maybe the only interesting mid-game interview I can remember— Brian A. (@pharmy1917) June 30, 2013
Scherzer gave us such nuggets of information as:
Scherzer on Fox: "Hopefully I don't go to San Diego (during the All-Star break). That would be a great trip not to take." #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) June 30, 2013
How rare was Austin Jackson's home run? Out of 34 career homers, Jackson's third inning solo shot to right was only the fourth to the opposite field.
Meanwhile, in Allentown, Pennsylvania the Mud Hens are playing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs:
Nick castellanos with another double. Now 2-4 2 doubles.— TigersProspectReport (@TigersProspects) June 30, 2013
While Matt Tuiasosopo is on the DL and Andy Dirks is struggling along at .250/.306/.353, Nick Castellanos is hitting .299/.376/.484 and is rocking an OPS of 1.021 in June. I'm starting to lean toward the "It's time to call up Castellanos" camp.
Alex Avila now 2-4 with an RBI.— TigersProspectReport (@TigersProspects) June 30, 2013
A repaired Alex Avila would be a huge boost.
Meanwhile, on the Tigers' radio call, deep game analysis by the color man:
"Wow wowowowowowowowow wow wow wowowow wow." — Jim Price— Alexandra Simon (@catswithbats) June 30, 2013
Dan Dickerson, on the other hand, enjoys run saving double plays.
Haha Dan's call of that double play. His voice ended in a high pitched squeal.— Alexandra Simon (@catswithbats) June 30, 2013
Odd Verlander stats of the game: In eight innings, Verlander threw 16 times to first base. He also had three double plays turned on his watch for only the second time in his career, the first since 2006. It was also the first time this season Verlander went eight innings.
Luke Scott, always a Tiger Killer:
11 HRs now for Luke Scott in 28 career starts vs Detroit.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) June 30, 2013
You weren't going to convince Cabrera otherwise, but knowing Fernando Rodney's history, I highly doubt he was intentionally throwing at his head in the tenth.
This could be the first time any Tiger has accused Fernando Rodney of throwing a pitch in a particular location on purpose.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 30, 2013
If you were wondering why Drew Smyly only pitched one inning, it's Jim Leyland logic:
@matthewbmowery This is the same Jim Leyland who bemoans the lack of two-inning pitchers on his staff, right?— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) June 30, 2013
Tokarz is echoing the thoughts of many a Tigers fan tonight.
If we would have left Smyly in...— Tokarz (@tokarzontigers) June 30, 2013
Justin Verlander: Yes, he allowed the eighth inning homer to Luke Scott. But I put that on Jim Leyland. A quality start is a quality start. I'll take two earned runs over eight innings every time.
Victor Maritnez: Three hits in five at bats, the only Tiger with more than one hit.
Austin Jackson: Reached base three times with a home run and two walks.
Drew Smyly: Struck out the side in his one inning of work.
Avisail Garcia: Looked completely overwhelmed, striking out his two at bats. The second came with the game winning run on second to end the ninth.
Bruce Rondon: Allowed three hits and the game winning run in his 2/3 of an inning pitched, suffering his first career loss. For someone who is supposed to have plus stuff, Rondon hasn't missed many bats.
Odd decision making: all kinds of second guessing can be made of Jim Leyland's decisions tonight. Sending Justin Verlander back out the eighth, not using Drew Smyly in the eighth or for more than one inning, Austin Jackson positioned like a softball rover on the game winning hit. I'm not going to say using Bruce Rondon was a bad decision (though some will), because he's going to have to pitch in high leverage innings with the weakened status of this bullpen.
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Miguel Cabrera's 4-for-4, two home run night received 71% of the vote, topping Max Scherzer raising his record to 12-0