DETROIT--It was not the Mother's Day that fans in attendance would have wished for. Despite getting off to a good start offensively coupled with a strong start by Robbie Ray, off days for the bullpen and key errors made by the Tigers outfielders cost them a game that should have been a win for the Tigers.
"You come into this game looking to take the series and you have a lead going into the final third part of the game today," Ausmus said. "So in that sense it's a little disappointing, but still winning the homestand. Baseball is a little fickle like that. Overall, pleased that we go on the road with a winning homestand. We probably would have been in a little better mood if we had gone 5-2. It happens."
Ray used the fastball heavily and interchanged it with his changeup which gave him a strong second outing. Ray cruised through six innings, working his way through the Twins lineup with ease. The first seven batters were retired in order before he issued his first walk of the day.
Ray quickly eliminated the threat when he induced a 1-3-6 pickoff to catch Aaron Hicks when he was trying to steal second base. A short-lived double by Eduardo Escobar was the only thing to prolong the inning as Brian Dozier struck out swinging to end the third inning. During the sixth inning Ray allowed back-to-back singles with one out, but he fielded his position nicely for the third time and a deflection induced a 1-6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
After six shutout innings and four 1-2-3 innings, Ray's second major league appearance was complete. He allowed only four hits and one walk while striking out two. Ray threw 93 pitches and 58 percent were for strikes.
"Robbie (Ray) pitched well. His curveball was a little more consistent today, he mixed his fastball and changeup very well," Ausmus said. "He clearly pitched well enough to win the game, it just didn't work out today."
The ball may not have left the park, but Miguel Cabrera's power is returning with every at-bat. In his first plate appearance of the game Cabrera hit a bullet off an 0-1 pitch that initially looked like it was going to carry out of the field. But a strong wind blowing in from center field knocked the ball down and what could have been a home run became a sacrifice fly. But it did the job and Kinsler easily scored to put the Tigers ahead 1-0 in the first inning.
The fourth inning was interesting. Cabrera got two consecutive pitches that were too close for comfort and repaid Twins pitcher Samuel Deduno with a single to left field. Victor Martinez singled to put two on and Austin Jackson followed with a line drive single to center field which scored Cabrera. With two on and one out, a passed ball by Josmil Pinto advanced Jackson and Martinez to second and third base accordingly.
The best part of the fourth inning, however, came when Andrew Romine hit an 0-1 pitch which should have been an inning-ending double play. But the ball hit Jackson in the process which resulted in an out, and Romine was credited with a base hit.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out to dispute the call, and after a heated argument, was ejected from the game by third base umpire Joe West. It was Gardenhire's first ejection of the season and his 68th of his career; it was the first ejection at Comerica Park for the 2014 season.
Cabrera smoked a leadoff line drive single to right field to start the eighth inning, and advanced to second on a fielding error by the Twins right fielder. Martinez then ripped a line drive which would have been an RBI single had the ball not been driven straight into the arm and back portion of Twins pitcher Casey Fien. Fien was able to get the ball to first for the out but left the game immediately following. Cabrera advanced to third, but a flyout by Castellanos, who replaced Don Kelly, ended the inning.
Al Alburquerque pitched two thirds of a seventh inning and retired two but he allowed a single and was replaced with Ian Krol. Krol then allowed a single by Chris Parmalee and an RBI single by Danny Santana which put the Twins on the board. The run was credited to Alburquerque and Krol finished the inning with a swinging strikeout.
Torii Hunter threw to Romine instead of home like he should have, and it cost the Tigers a run. The Twins third base coach had the stop sign up but when Hunter threw to short instead of home, Josmil Pinto picked up on an opportunity and six innings of shutout work were erased.
"We were hoping he (Krol) could get Parmelee and get out of the inning right there, but they finally got the hit and the RBI," Ausmus said. "But the damage was contained and we still had the lead and we felt good handing the ball to Joba."
Chamberlain came out for the eighth inning and hit the first batter he faced and walked the next. He caught Trevor Plouffe looking and got Chris Colabello to strike out swinging. But with two out and two on base and a 3-2 count, Pinto hit a line drive single to left field that Rajai Davis failed to field properly. Two runs scored with Pinto at second on an error credited to Davis. A single by Nunez scored Pinto and the Tigers fell behind 4-3 but Nunez tried to reach second base and was out to end the inning.
"He's pitched so well for us ... the bullpen's been good. Joba's (Chamberlain) been outstanding, it was just an off day," Ausmus said. "You're not going to be perfect, nobody's perfect."
Evan Reed pitched a decent ninth inning, striking out the first two batters he faced. Escobar then singled a line drive to center field but a quick delivery by Reed to Avila enabled Avila to get a strong throw to Kinsler. Escobar was caught stealing and Reed finished the inning without allowing a run.
The Tigers were only down by one run going into the bottom of the ninth. Jackson and Avila both flew out to left and center field accordingly with J.D. Martinez in to bat for Romine. Colabello was unable to get an accurate read on the ball in foul territory and it fell harmlessly behind him to keep the inning, and hope, alive briefly. But he flew out to right field and ended the game for a final score of Twins 4, Tigers 3.
The Tigers wrap up their seven-game home stand with a 4-3 record and are currently 21-12 for the year, which is still enough to hold on to the major league lead. Jackson now has a nine-game hitting streak following the RBI single in the fourth inning. Kinsler now has 15 multi-hit games with his double in the first inning and the solo home run in the fifth inning, which puts him at third in the American League.
Ray will be going on the road with the Tigers and next up is a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Following that series they travel to Boston to take on the Red Sox for a three-game series and wrap up their 10-game trip on the road with a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians. The Tigers will return home on May 22 to face the Rangers for a three-game series before going on the road yet again for another 10 games.