The Detroit Tigers continued their season long domination of the Cleveland Indians with rain-shortened a 7-2 victory. The game was called after seven full innings and a rain delay of 1:10. With the victory, the Tigers raise their season record to 14-3 over the Tribe, while extending their lead in the AL Central to 7 1/2 games.
Miguel Cabrera was back in the Tigers' starting lineup after leaving Thursday's game with an abdominal discomfort. But MLB's leading hitter could only last two innings into tonight's game, pulled after one at bat with the same issue.
Rick Porcello pitched into the sixth to become the first Tigers' starting pitcher to earn a win since, well, Rick Porcello last Sunday. The Tigers' number five starter tossed 5 2/3 innings of two run, five hit ball.
Tribe starter Zach McAllister was rocked for five runs on six hits in just 3 2/3 innings of work.
His bat hot as molten metal, Victor Martinez led the Tigers' offensive attack with a pair of doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. Andy Dirks entered the game when Cabrera was removed, chipping in with two hits and two runs. Jose Iglesias added two singles, a run and a highlight reel double play.
Nick Swisher was the only Indian with two hits, both doubles. Asdrubal Cabrera had the lone Tribe RBI on a bases loaded walk. Their other run scored on first inning double play.
A month ago this series loomed large for both teams as a first place - second place AL Central showdown. But that was before the Tigers' four game sweep of the Indians in Cleveland, allowing them to pull away in the division race. As if you needed any more convincing the Tigers are the class of the division, tonight's victory was it.
After four straight games of the A's pounding the ball early and often, I was all set to write the Tigers found themselves in a first inning hole. Not tonight!
Rick Porcello struck out the first two batters he faced, and wrapped up a 1-2-3 inning when Jason Kipnis flew out to center.
As rocknrye said in the game thread:
7:18 and the Tigers are batting in the bottom of the first. This is an improvement
Thanks to the A's, the Tigers' fan base is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
After Zach McAllister set the Tigers down in order to end the first, the flashbacks started.
Carlos Santana led off the second by doubling just inside the first base bag, narrowly beating Torii Hunter's throw to second. Michael Brantley bounced a single through the right side, Santana stopping at third. The infield in double play depth, Porcello and the Tigers were willing give up the run for a double play. they got one in the most spectacular way possible.
Asdrubal Cabrera ripped a one-hopper which appeared headed to left. Jose Iglesias made a diving backhand stop, firing to second from his knees to start a highlight reel 6-4-3- double play (MLB.com video).
Can't type, jaw still on floor due to Iglesias— Al Beaton (@BigAlBYB) August 30, 2013
Porcello would do obscene things to Jose if there weren't so many people watching.— PCB (@PhilCokesBrain) August 30, 2013
We <3 Iglesias— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 30, 2013
The run scored, but Iglesias' ridiculously good defense kept the inning from getting out of hand. The next batter, Yan Gomes, bounced the second double of the inning past Fielder, so Iglesias had saved at least one run. Lonnie Chisenhall popped up to end what could have a far worse inning, the Indians up 1-0.
The Tigers' bats woke up in the bottom half of the second. McAllister issued a lead off free pass to Fielder, and as we all know, that usually means bad things for the pitcher. The unconscious Victor Martinez followed with a frozen rope to right, doubling past Drew Stubbs, Fielder holding up at third. Don Kelly got the ball in the air, sending a fly to medium center, more than deep enough to plate Fielder, knotting the game at 1-all.
The rally would end there, Alex Avila striking out, Omar Infante lining to right. But after witnessing the Tigers unable to counter anything the A's did, their scoring immediately after the Indians did was a good sign.
Then, bad things man.Bad things ... at least when it comes to the best hitter in the game.
Top of three, Kelly was stationed at third and Andy Dirks had entered the game as the new left fielder, The Tigers pulled Miguel Cabrera after just two innings. An uncomfortable looking first inning strikeout showed he wasn't sufficiently recovered from the abdominal discomfort which forced him to leave Thursday's game.
Panic, or at least a great deal of concern, ensued.
NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOÖÖOÖ— Alexandrwuaooooo (@catswithbats) August 30, 2013
The Triple Crown is fun to talk about and all, but maybe Cabrera should get a week off.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 30, 2013
Bottom of three, the tigers needed just three pitches to take the lead. Iglesias led off by slapping an 0-2 liner to right, legging out a two base hit. First pitch swinging, Austin Jackson bounced a hard ground ball off the glove of a diving Kipnis, Iglesias racing home on the single to center to give the Tigers' a 2-1 lead.
Dirks pulled a ground ball through the right side, Jackson making a big turn, but retreating back to second. Still just one out, McAllister dug himself a deeper hole. He walked Fielder on five pitches, loading the bases for one of the hottest bats on the planet, Martinez.
The Baseball Gods proceeded to smile on the Tigers. Martinez launched a high fly to deep center. But Tribe center fielder Michael Bourn never saw it.
The fly ball dropped 20-25 feet behind Bourn, who was a man on an island.
Click pic below for GIF goodness and this link for MLB.com video.
By the time Stubbs had raced all the way from right field and got the ball back in the infield, two runs had scored, Fielder was on third and Martinez (now hitting .299 on the season) had a gift double from the Gods of the light tower.
Amazingly, the Indians intentionally walked Donnie Baseball, reloading the bases. The walk itself wasn't amazing, BUT DON KELLY?
IBB DON KELLY? I MAY NEVER TYPE IN REGULAR CASE AGAIN— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 31, 2013
Avila drove in the fourth run of the inning with a chopper to third, forcing Martinez. But Fielder rumbled across the plate to make it a 5-1 game.
Given a four run cushion, Porcello fired a shutdown top of the fourth inning, retiring the Indians in order.
McAllsiter found more trouble in the bottom half of the frame, this time with two outs. He was unable to field Hunter's comebacker, yesterday's hero legging out an infield single. The inning extended, Dirks necked out a walk, which brought out manager Terry Francona.
McAllister was replaced by Letters Guy, otherwise known as left-handed pitcher Marc Rzepczynski. He proceeded to plunk Fielder, loading the bases for Martinez. This time around, Bourn sighed in relief as Martinez sent a bouncer to the right side. Kipnis made a nice play, going into short right field to throw out Martinez, ending the threat.
Porcello allowed a pair of hits in the fifth, but Kelly starting a 5-4-3 double play helped keep the Tribe off the scoreboard. Letters Guy and right-hander Carlos Carrasco combined to retire the Tigers in order in the bottom half of the fifth, the score remaining Tigers 5, Indians 1.
While Al Alburquerque warming up (YIKES), Porcello found himself in a two on, one out jam in the sixth. Bro King Nick Swisher's fly ball dropped in the right field corner, bouncing into the seats for a ground rule double. The always troublesome Kipnis had a long at bat, finally working a base on balls. A gassed Porcello was pushing 100 pitches and had trouble finding the strike zone,yet got the second out when Santanaa lined out to center. Porcello's night was deemed over by Jim Leyland after walking Brantley on five pitches, the fifth his 100th of the night, loading the bases.
Alburquerque was called on to clean up Porcello's mess. Nowhere to put anyone with two out, you could flip a coin as to which Alburquerque would show up, good or bad. It was the bad Alburquerque who couldn't throw strikes. He went to a full count to Cabrera before walking him, making it a 5-2 game. A visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones ("Walks are bad, mmmmkay?") must have helped, as Alburquerque ended the inning on a ground ball off the bat of Gomes.
Top of seven, Drew Smyly was on the mound for the Tigers. After getting the first two outs on slow rollers (both Iglesias an Kelly making nice defensive plays), Smyly allowed a single to Bourn. In Captain Hook mode, Leyland walking a path already well worn by Jones, made the call for Bruce Rondon.
Down in the count 1-2, Swisher slashed a liner down the left field line, the ball landing just fair. Once again, the Tigers caught a break, as the ball took a left hand turn, bouncing on one hop into the stands. Bourn would have scored, but was sent back to third on the ground rule double. Rondon would get the out he needed, Kipnis bouncing to Infante, stranding two runners in scoring position.
The Tigers got a run back and then some in the bottom half of the seventh while facing lefty Rich Hill. Having a big night at the plate, Dirks led off with a fly ball which found the gap in left center for a stand up double. He advanced to third on Fielder's fly to deep right. Strategy ensued, but it didn't stop the bleeding.
Martinez was ordered intentionally walked. Kelly couldn't get the run home, striking out. But Avila worked a walk, ball four bouncing far enough away from the plate to allow Dirks to slide home head first with the Tigers' sixth run.
More strategy ensued, Tito calling on Matt Albers. Again, it didn't work. Infante greeted Albers with a line single to right, Martinez lumbering home to push the Tigers' lead to 7-2. Avila was caught in a rundown when the throw home was cut off, tagged out to end a two run inning.
As the seventh inning ended, a monsoon arrived, putting the game into a delay.
Kinda wet right now. pic.twitter.com/xUTNPIwaw4— Mario Impemba (@mario_impemba) August 31, 2013
Sheets of rain hit at 10:03 PM, and never let up. At 11:13 PM, after a 1:10 delay and rain still coming down, the game was called.
Tonight's game will not resume due to rain. #Tigers win 7-2!— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 31, 2013
Your soggy final score is Tigers 7, Indians 2.
This time, the rain falls in the Tigers' favor for a very workmanlike victory.
The victory raises the Tigers' Central leading record to 79-56. The Red Sox (.588), Tigers (.585) and Rangers (.582) are within .006 of each other for the best overall record in the AL. The Indians drop to 7 1/2 back in the division, and at four games out of the wild card, the playoffs are starting to look like a pipe dream.
In Saturday night's game two of Indians at Tigers, Tribe lefty Scott Kazmir (7-6, 4.25 ERA) faces Anibal Sanchez (11-7, 2.61 ERA). Of late Kazmir has either been excellent or gotten pounded, no in-between. In three of his last five starts (in which he's1-2, 5.40 ERA), he's given up 14 runs in 13 innings. The other two starts, just one run over 13 innings. Sanchez is coming off his worst start of the second half, four runs allowed in a five inning no-decision against the A's. Despite the bad outing, Sanchez still leads the AL in ERA. First pitch at Comerica Park will be at 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Victor Martinez's second inning single raised his average to .298, two hits away from passing the .300 mark. He was at .299 after a third inning double. Hard to believe this is the same Martinez who thought to be washed up when hitting .232 on July 2.
After seeing slo-mo shots of the outrageous amounts of torque pitchers put on their arms, I'm amazed every elbow doesn't explode. For example, here's McAllister doing something inhuman to his arm, yet not ending up like Matt Harvey.
Meanwhile, the beat writers are keeping themselves busy in the Comerica press box:
Awkward things at Comerica rankings: 1. Christmas in July. 2. Arsenio Hall on video screen telling fans to cheer. 3. Prince Fielder slides.— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) August 31, 2013
The Tigers got a bit of a break in the fifth, Omar Infante going high to bring down Don Kelly's throw to second to start a double play. But was he on the bag? It didn't matter, as the Tigers got the "Well, the throw beat the runner and the infielder is close-ish to the bag, so lets call him out" call aka "the neighborhood play."
Bad news out of Toledo.
Dotel was removed from the game. There were unconfirmed reports of an elbow injury, but nothing official. But any sort of setback does not bode well for Dotel's return.
But there was good news from Double-A Erie:
FINAL 7-1 SeaWolves are headed BACK to the Eastern League playoffs!!!— Erie SeaWolves (@erie_seawolves) August 31, 2013
Tomorrow is August 31, the final day to make players playoff eligible without DL maneuvering. There was no news out of Toledo on the Nick Castellanos front. It's looking as if there won't be a roster move similar to Avisail Garcia's in 2012.
After game @MudHens mgr. Phil Nevin said "no moves." Also saw him meet w/ Phil Coke & Hernan Perez after the game.— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) August 31, 2013
Rick Porcello: Rick Porcello became the first Tigers' starter since Rick Porcello to pitch into the sixth. Porcello went seven innings against the Mets on Sunday, and 5 2/3 tonight, allowing two runs on five hits.
Victor Martinez: Martinez is now hitting .299 thanks to a pair of doubles. If feels as every ball he hits is a line drive.
Andy Dirks: Came off the bench when Cabrera went down, then had a Cabrera-ish game in the three spot with two hits and two runs scored.
Jose Iglesias: It's an absolute pleasure to watch Iglesias play defense. The first inning double play was abso-damn-lutley awesome. Added a pair of singles and scored a run to make for a nice all-around night for the rookie.
Miguel Cabrera's body: He must have done something to tick off his body, because it's rebelling at every opportunity. The time for Cabrera to take several days off may be nigh.
Al Alburquerque's slider: Alburquerque needs to have a Happy Gilmore-like chat with his money pitch:
"Why you don't you just CROSS THE PLATE? That's your HOME! Are you too good for your HOME? ANSWER ME!"
Bro King Nick Swisher: Even Tribe fans are tired of Swisher's act.
Spoke to a Tribe fan last night. He cannot stand Swisher and would enjoy seeing him shot into the sun. So it's not just us.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) August 31, 2013
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Could it be anyone other than Torii Hunter? Actually, no. Hunter's game winning, walk off three run blast pushed him to the top of the PotG vote with 86%.