Apparently, no one told the Detroit Tigers' offense the second half of the season was underway. Ervin Santana dominated the Tigers, pitching into the eighth while allowing just three base runners, leading the Kansas City Royals to a 1-0 victory. It was the seventh time the Tigers were shut out in 2013. It's also the sixth time this season the Tigers lost the next game after reaching a season high ten games over .500.
Santana (6-6) shut out the Tigers on two hits, walking one and striking out six in 7 1/3 innings of excellent work. Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth respectively, Holland picking up save number 23.
Starter and loser Anibal Sanchez (7-7) battled with his control, walking a season high five and allowing four hits. But he still held the Royals to just one run in six innings. It wasn't enough, the Tigers' bats unable to do anything against three Royals pitchers.
The offense in the game consisted of seven singles, two by the Tigers and five from the Royals. The only run scored on a first inning Billy Butler RBI single.
If I had told you going into the game Anibal Sanchez would allow just one run and the bullpen would shut out the Royals the rest of the way, you would assume the Tigers won in easy fashion. Normally, that would be true, unless the team with the highest overall batting average and second most runs scored in baseball was shutout. Of course, the Tigers were, for a SEVENTH time in just 95 games.
A single, stolen base and Omar Infante being on the DL set up a first innining RBI opportunity for Country Breakfast. Alex Gordon led with single off the the glove of Ramon Santiago. Gordon stole second and scored on Billy Butler's single to center, the Royals taking a 1-0 lead, which they would never increase or relinquish.
After Sanchez allowed an uncharacteristic walk to Salvador Perez, .215 hitting Mike Moustakas bailed out the Tigers by bouncing into a first pitch swinging 6-4-3 double play.
Remember when Moustakas was going to be the Royals' savior? Much like we were sold the rest of their farm system was going to carry the Royals to the top of the standings. Royals fans were sold a bill of goods.
The Tigers could do little with Santana, the first six batters going down in order. While the Royals were busy threatening against Sanchez in the second.
Lorenzo Cain led off with a single. He had second base stolen, having gotten a huge jump, but the Royals did the Tigers a favor by having David Lough drop a bunt. Sanchez made a nice play to get off the mound and flip the ball with his glove to Fielder for the first out. Alcides Escobar moved Cain over with a ground ball. Sanchez then made a mistake which nearly cost him, walking .214 hitting number nine hitter Chris Getz, who proceeded to steal second without a throw. Runners in scoring position for Gordon, Sanchez danced with the Devil, yet got off scot-free. Gordon hit the ball hard on the ground, but right at Fielder for the third out.
Santana had retired ten straight, making the tigers look silly at times. Before the "No-hitter in progress" alerts could even start, Torii Hunter became the first Tiger to reach base, singling to right with one out in the fourth. But he would venture no further, Santana easily retiring Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
The Royals threatened again in the bottom of the fourth, again stranding a runner 90 feet away. Moustakas led off the inning with a base on ball, advanced to third on a pair of ground outs. Sanchez pitched out of trouble, striking out Escobar to end the inning. The Royals had six base runners to the Tigers' one, but only held a 1-0 lead after four full inning.
The Tigers tried to force the issue in the fifth, but ended up running themselves out of the inning.. Andy Dirks singled with two out, but was easily thrown out trying to steal by Perez and his cannon of an arm. Alex Avila may have missed the sign on a hit and run.
While the Tigers couldn't get a runner to second even if given the ball served up on a tee, a not sharp Sanchez pitched himself into more trouble in the sixth. Butler led off with a single, then Sanchez walked Moustakas (and his .598 OPS) for the second time. With two out and David Lough at the plate, Sanchez wild pitched the runners into scoring position. Battling with his command and losing, Sanchez loaded the bases by walking Lough.
Sanchez looked to ave gotten out of the inning when Escobar sent a foul pop toward the Royals' dugout. But Avila bailed out Escobar by just plain dropping the ball. The E-2 kept the inning alive. So Sanchez took matters into his own hands, striking out Escobar on a full count breaking ball.
The Royals had stranded five runners in scoring position with two out over six innings. Sanchez had been far from sharp, needing 101 pitches to get through six. But Sanchez had kept the Tigers in the game by not allowing the big two out RBI hit, the Royals clinging to their 1-0 advantage.
For the third time in the game, the Tigers hit the ball to wrong part of Kauffman Stadium. Top of seven, Cain ran down Miguel Cabrera's lead off fly ball at the base of the center field wall 410' feet away. With MLB's leading hitter out of the way, Santana completed another 1-2-3 inning.
With three left-handed bats due up in the bottom of the seventh, Jim Leyland played the match up game, replacing his starter with Phil Coke. He retired the first two, but Jhonny Peralta ole'd Eric Hosmer's ground ball, letting a ball he should have grabbed get past him for a two out single.
Tiger Killler Country Breakfast Butler due up, Leyland having used Coke correctly and not wanting to use him against a good right-handed bat, called on the big rookie right-hander out of the pen, Bruce Rondon. Rondon did his job, Butler weakly bouncing out to end the seventh.
His pitch count at 96, having set down six straight and giving up a mere two singles, Santana remained in the game for the Royals in the eighth. After allowing a one out walk (only the third Tigers' base runner of the night) to Peralta, Ned Yost called on hard-throwing right-hander Kelvin Herrera.
Herrera made it look easy, Dirks bouncing into a 4-3 fielder's choice and striking out Avila to end the eighth. As did Rondon in the bottom half of the eighth, pitching a 1-2-3 inning.
It would be the Tigers' limp offense against one of the best closers in the game, Greg Holland. The Tigers would need to get one base runner in order to bring Cabrera to the plate. It was a complete and utter mismatch ... for Holland.
Hollands blew away pinch hitter Don Kelly on a 97 MPH 2-2 fastball. Second baseman Chris Getz made a nice pickup on Austin Jackson's ground ball up the middle, throwing him out by a step.
Cabrera was left standing on deck, Hunter ended the game with a can of corn to center.
Game over. You final score is Royals 1, Tigers 0.
Nights like this, when a talented offensive team is shut out for the seventh time, make for a miserable viewing experience. I plan on wiping this lousy loss from the memory bank. I hope the Tigers do as well. Honestly, I'm sure they will.
For a sixth time, the Tigers reach their glass ceiling of ten games over .500, only to find themselves unable to break through. The loss drops their record to 52-43. But the Tigers' lead in the Central remains at 1 1/2 games, the second place Indians losing a chance to breathe on the Tigers' necks by falling to the lowly Twins.
Game two post All-Star break finds Justin Verlander (10-6, 3.50 ERA) taking on the Royals Jeremy Guthrie (8-7, 4.25 ERA). Verlander's last start was a gem, taking a no-hitter into the seventh in a victory over the Rangers. The Tigers' ace is 2-1, 2.17 in his last four starts. Guthrie last start was a loss to the Indians, allowing eight hits and five runs in seven innings. Guthrie beat the Tigers on June 10, giving up six hits and two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a 3-2 victory.
First pitch at Kauffman Stadium is set for 7:10 PM. This week the FOX blackout window starts at 3 PM Saturday afternoon, so Tigers - Royals will be available on FSD and MLB.TV.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Damn, the last two days without baseball was awful, boring and awful boring. When crap like the ESPYS takes the sports world center stage, that when you spend most of your time on Steam and Netflix. Thank goodness baseball is back! Well, that's what I thought until the Tigers' bats forgot to show up for game 95.
Tigers allowed a first inning run, on cue Mlive Commenter makes his return.
TIGERS LOSING. PRETTY CLEAR THIS TEAM IS AS BANKRUPT AS THEIR CITY.— MLiveCommenter (@MLiveCommenter) July 20, 2013
Meanwhile, in the Tigers' radio booth:
JIM PRICE STOP SINGING— very NIPPLE EXCITED (@catswithbats) July 20, 2013
Bottom of four, we saw an odd base path stalemate. Runner on first and no one out, Lorenzo Cain hit a slow roller to Prince Fielder. Fielder picked up the ball, and reached out to tag Cain, who stopped runner. All the while watching the runner, Fielder didn't move, motioning to Cain to be tagged. After a few seconds, Cain finally ended the stalemate by slapping Fielder's glove for the putout.
Mario Impemba in a tone of voice we've ALL heard:
"Lorenzo Lamar Cain, you get right over here!"
Cain had a solid game on defense, taking possible extra base hits away from the Tigers in the first (Torii Hunter) and fifth innings (Victor Martinez) with leaping catches on the center field waring track.
Alex Avila's struggles continue at the plate:
Chris Davis has more home runs this season than Alex Avila has hits— Grey (@spacemnkymafia) July 20, 2013
Avila has 35 hits, Davis 37 home runs.
Avila struck out looking to end the eighth. But to Avila's credit, pitch tracking showed the umpire was watching another game.
Pitch 5... 'Called strike' pic.twitter.com/ElUpNisoD5— Bryan Craves (@DisplacedTgrFan) July 20, 2013
Though this is true as well:
Taking a called third strike is becoming Avila's signature out like the checked swing was Inge's— Eric Wayne (@PhilCokesBrain) July 20, 2013
Rob is still trying to make Bruce "Heavy B" Rondon a thing:
HEAVY B GETS HEAVY BB— BYB Rob (@Detroit4lyfeRob) July 20, 2013
Meanwhile, with the Mud Hens:
Jeremy Bonderman made his first appearance in AAA for the Hens. 1 Ip 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K— TigersProspectReport (@TigersProspects) July 20, 2013
Anibal Sanchez: Oh, for the want of run support. Sanchez battled through six innings, holding the Royals to a lone first inning run.
Phil Coke: Entering the game in a tailor-made for a lefty situation, Coke retired the first two batters he faced. The single he allowed was a play Peralta should have made.
Bruce Rondon: A perfect 1 1/3 innings pitched for Heavy B.
Any Tiger who touched a bat: Three lousy base runners. Ervin Santana is a decent pitcher, but the Tigers made him look like Cy Young. Ervin Santana =/= Cy Young. Hell, Ervin Santana =/= Anibal Sanchez.
Jim Leyland: It was a little thing Leyland did which bothered me tonight. I know Don Kelly has been hot. But Matt Tuiasosopo has been hotter, and can hit the long ball. Even though he would have been facing a right-hander in the ninth, I like Tuiasosopo's chances of tying the game with one swing far, far more than Donnie Baseball's. I know they are small sample sizes, but the differences are striking. Tuiasosopo is crushing it off the bench, .300/.462/.800 in 13 pinch hit plate appearances this season. Kelly's 2013 numbers as a pinch hitter are a tad lower, .000/.000/.000 in eight (now nine) at bats.In a game desperate for offense, I would have much preferred to see Tuiasosopo and his power off the bench sometime during the night. One more thing - please stop answering every question by starting with "Weeeeeeeeeeelllll."
Dave Dombrowski: Due to injuries and a lack of performance, the bottom of the order is ugly. I know you can't have .300 hitters in the one through nine spots. But your 7-thru-9 tonight are now hitting .244, .174 and .157. The .157 hitting Ramon Santiago will be replaced soon enough when Omar Infante returns. But what about left field and catcher? Andy Dirks has produced a lousy .649 OPS from a position which demands far more offense. Dirks is proving to be a fourth outfielder, and has been exposed by playing every day. I'm at just as much of a loss over Avila as the Tigers must be, but it looks more and more like his marvelous 2011 is an outlier. But I can live with one black hole in the offense if the others are plugged.
Alex Avila: I hate giving Avila hisses, but he stood out in a bad all-around game for the Tigers. Another hitless night lowered Avila's average to .174, also butchering what should have been an inning ending pop up.
TOP TEN COMMMENTERS:
|10||rock n rye||33|
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|2||rock n rye||it's almost like he's a rookie learning how to pitch in the majors|
The Tigers represented themselves well at the 2013 All-Star Game, helping the AL to a 3-0 win. Manager Jim Leyland, knowing he has a team which could make good use of World Series home field, treated the game as such, making decisions aimed more toward victory, not participation, in mind. The Tigers skipper was rewarded by being named the All-Star Game PotG with 37% of the vote to Miguel Cabrera's 34%.