The Detroit Tigers continued their rampage through the American League, wrapping up their first road sweep of the Boston Red Sox in over 30 years with a 6-2 victory. Over the three games, the Red Sox were out-scored by the Tigers 13-3 and out-hit 32-16.
Detroit lost 2-of-3 after their eight-game winning streak was snapped last weekend, so they just went and started another. The Tigers have now won six straight games, extending their road winning streak to 11.
Anibal Sanchez (W, 1-2) was activated off the 15-day disabled list today, pitching for the first time since April 26. Sanchez was on a limited workload, pulled after five innings and 80 pitches. He wasn't at his sharpest, but still pitched more than well enough to earn the win, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits.
The Tigers' bullpen remained lights out. Five Detroit relievers combined to shut out the Red Sox over the final four innings on just one hit, retiring the last 11 batters they faced.
Jake Peavy (L, 1-2) was hit hard from the first at-bat by the Tigers. He somehow managed to survive six innings, but was rocked for 11 hits and five runs in taking the loss.
The Red Sox would need four relievers over the final three innings, holding the Tigers to one run on four hits.
The first four hitters in the Detroit batting order did the majority of the damage, owning ten of Detroit's 15 hits. Ian Kinsler led the Tigers' bats with four hits and two runs scored. The power was supplied by Victor Martinez with a two-run homer and Torii Hunter, who added a solo shot. Miguel Cabrera chipped in with three hits and two RBIs.
Held to single-digit hits for a third consecutive game with six, the only Red Sox offense came off the bat of Xavier Bogaerts on a first-inning RBI single. The other run was unearned, Dustin Pedroia scoring on a throwing error.
What the Tigers have accomplished over the first seven weeks of the season is remarkable, even for someone who lived through the historic start to the 1984 season.
Thanks to their MLB best 27-12, .692 record, the Tigers have taken a seven-game lead in the AL Central. Last season, the Tigers didn't have a seven game divisional lead until August, topping out at 8 1/2. They never had a seven-game lead at any point in 2012.
And it's still MAY!
Facing Jake Peavy, the Tigers smacked the ball all over Fenway Park in the top of the first, but had nothing to show it.
Ian Kinsler drilled a lead off home ru...wait, this is Fenway...a single high off the Green Monster.
Torii Hunter followed with a sing...wait a sec. When you live with aggressive base running, you can die by aggressive base running. Kinsler was running on the pitch, so Hunter's ground ball up the middle was gobbled up by Dustin Pedroia, stationed on the second base bag waiting on a throw that wasn't needed. Pedroia fired to first to finish off a double play.
Miguel Cabrera followed with a gapper to right center. Unfortunately, the bases were now empty, so he settled for a two-out double. A lucky Peavy got out of the inning on a Victor Martinez fly ball.
Only in Fenway...
Anibal Sanchez's first inning of work in three weeks was uneventful. He pitched around David Ortiz, but did not allow a hit.
There were more Fenway shenanigans in the second. J.D. Martinez rattled a double off the left field wall with two down. Alex Avila hit the ball hard, but his one-hopper was right at Pedroia, ending the inning.
Bottom of two, the Red Sox drew first blood for the first time in the series on a couple of bloops and a ground ball. Grady Sizemore looped a lead-off single to short left. A.J. Pierzynski bounced a nubber to Sanchez, who didn't field the ball cleanly and was forced to take the out at first.
That slight bobble cost him a run when Xander Bogaerts dropped a Texas Leaguer in short right, the RBI single giving the Red Sox their first lead of the series at 1-0.
Tigers smashing the ball everywhere = 0 runs. Red Sox hit two bloops and a 10 foot grounder = 1-0 lead.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 19, 2014
The Tigers kept smashing the ball in the third, finally getting something to show for it during a two-out rally.
Kinsler's reached base for the second straight at-bat, lining a double into the left field corner. Two down, Cabrera muscled a fastball on the fists just over a leaping Brock Holt at third for a game-tying RBI single.
Rather than pitch around Martinez the Elder with Don Kelly on deck, Peavy decided to go after him. It was not a smart decision. Martinez didn't miss Peavy's 1-2 change up, smoking a line drive over the short wall in right.
ADIOOOOS, PELOTAAA!! Victor Martinez conecta para HR de dos carreras para darle ventaja a los Tigres! Arriba 3-1 en tercera entrada. #tigers— Tigres de Detroit (@TigresdeDetroit) May 19, 2014
Martinez's team-leading tenth home run plated Cabrera and gave the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish at 3-1.
Sanchez bounced back to toss a scoreless third, his pitch count at 43. He wasn't going to be allowed a heavy workload in his first game back.
Top of four, the Tigers again threatened against Peavy. One out, Martinez the Younger singled and stole second. But Avila struck out and the scuffling-to-the-point-of-absurdity Andrew Romine extended his hitless streak to 12 at-bats by bouncing out to end the inning.
Sanchez got a needed 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth, his pitch count still looking good at 59.
The Tigers' offense continued to look good in the fifth, extending their lead to 4-1.
Kinsler led off with his third consecutive hit, singling off the glove of Holt. Brad Ausmus tried the hit-and-run a second time, Hunter pulling it off to perfection by slapping a single to right. Runners on the corners for Cabrera, he first took time to shake the hand of a kid in the stands before he drove a fly ball to right, deep enough to drive home Kinsler with the Tigers' fourth run of the night.
Sanchez found himself in his first real jam of the night in the bottom half of the inning. Pedroia singled with one out. The Red Sox's John Farrell went to the Tigers' bag of tricks with the hit-and-run, Shane Victorino bouncing a single to right.
Victorino took the bat out of Ortiz's hands on a 2-2 pitch by stealing second. Ausmus elected to just go ahead and walk Ortiz, preferring to pitch to Mike Napoli.
Sanchez induced a weak ground ball to third. Rather than trade an out for a run, Kelly elected to throw home. His throw short hopped Avila, who dug the ball out of the dirt, but didn't realize it. He dropped the ball while looking behind him. Score it E-5, Pedroia safe with the Red Sox's second run.
Robbie Ray was warming up, meaning Sanchez wasn't long for the game.
Then the Tigers caught a break. Sizemore lined a comebacker which Sanchez caught in "excuse me" fashion. He turned and fired a laser to Kelly, doubling off Victorino to pitch himself out of a massive jam. The night was over for a fired-up Sanchez, who bounced into the dugout with a massive high-five.
Though he wasn't sharp (understandably) in walking three, Sanchez's first game back was a success. He allowed two runs, only one earned, while scattering five hits and striking out three.
The Tigers countered the Red Sox score by increasing their lead to 5-2. Jackson doubled off the Green Monster, coming around to score on Avila's two-out single.
In need of work, Ray took over in the sixth. He retired two of the three batters he faced, giving up a one-out single to Bogaerts. When Johnny Gomes was announced as a pinch-hitter for Jackie Bradley Jr, Asumus looked to the bullpen and found Evan Reed.
Holt on first thanks to a fielder's choice, the Red Sox again tried to make something happen by sending the runner. Avila's throw sailed into center for the Tigers' second error, Holt advancing to third. It didn't bother Reed in the slightest. He fired a letter-high, 97 MPH fastball past Gomes for the third out.
Peavy was pulled after giving up five runs on 11 hits though six, Junichi Tazawa taking the mound for the seventh.
The Red Sox were able to retire Kinsler for the first time all night on a ground ball. But Hunter greeted Tazawa by launching a home run deep into the Boston night, easily clearing the Green Monster. Hunter's fifth home run of the season was his first in 51 at-bats going back to May 3, extending the Detroit lead to 6-2.
Al Alburquerque got the nod for seventh-inning duty. Al-Al retired the meat of the Red Sox order 1-2-3, an active Kinsler making all three put outs.
Former top Tiger prospect Andrew Miller, who now could be mistaken for a member of the Duck Dynasty cast, pitched the eighth for the Red Sox. He gave up a single to Donnie Baseball and walked Jackson, but retired Avila and Romine to keep the Boston within shouting distance.
Ausmus kept playing matchups with his bullpen, to great effect. Alburquerque was asked to get a fourth out, facing Napoli to start the bottom of the eighth. Al-Al's slider slid, Napoli whiffing. Asumus went back to pen for the lefty/lefty matchup, inserting Ian Krol to face Sizemore and Pierzynski. Both were easily retired on weak ground balls.
Burke Badenhop, Boston's other expat from the Detroit organization, was on the mound to start the top of the ninth. Kinsler greeted Badenhop with his fourth hit of the game, singling to center. After Kinsler advanced to second on Hunter's ground ball, Cabrera laced a single to right, putting runners on the corners.
In a rare failure for Martinez the Elder, he popped up swinging at the first pitch.
Exit Miller, enter the fifth Red Sox arm of the game, lefty Craig Breslow. Being that even left-handers can't stop Don Kelly, Breslow walked him to load the bases.
The Tigers were unable to extend their lead, Breslow freezing Jackson with a 3-2 fastball to extinguish the threat.
Both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Coke were warming up during the top of the ninth. It was Chamberlain who got the call. Joe Nathan began warming up, just in case.
There would be no need for the closer. Chamberlain set the Red Sox down in order to wrap up four scoreless innings from the bullpen.
GAME OVER. SWEEP THE SOX.
The Tigers win 6-2, sweep the Red Sox at Fenway, and win their 11th consecutive game away from home. Baseball is fun right now.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 19, 2014
According to the Tigers' PR, tonight's win completed Detroit's first series sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway Park since taking four games from June 6-9, 1983, back in the sepia-toned days of Sparky Anderson running the team.
The Tigers are headed towards home, but stop in Cleveland for a three-game series before arriving back in Detroit. Drew Smyly (2-2, 2.70 ERA) takes the ball for the Tigers, while right-hander Corey Kluber (4-3, 3.38 ERA) toes the slab for the Indians.
Kluber has been the Tribe's best starter over the past month, going 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA in his last five starts. Kluber beat the Blue Jays in his last appearance, holding Toronto to two runs and four hits in seven innings, striking out nine and walking just one.
Over his past three outings, Smyly has only one win despite posting a 1.96 ERA. In his last start, Smyly had far from his best stuff and ended up with a no-decision in a Tigers win over the Orioles. But he managed to battle through six innings, allowing only one run on five hits, striking out seven.
Monday's first pitch at the field formally known as the Jake is set for 7:05 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Dan Shulman of ESPN described Jim Leyland as having, "Baseball oozing out of his pores." Uh, ICK.
Miguel Cabrera singled off Jake Peavy with a runner on second and two out, driving home the Tigers' first run. Going by ESPN's graphic, it shouldn't have been a surprise.
Miguel Cabrera once again showing he's almost impossible to pitch to with runners in scoring position and 2 outs pic.twitter.com/MkIQsjDqE1— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 19, 2014
Here's Cabrera making a fan for life:
Cabrera came up limping after making a throw to second base in the sixth, appearing to twist his ankle in the seam where the grass meets the infield dirt. He remained in the game, though the Tigers' fan base almost passed out from holding their breath.
Apparently a Bostonian paid the price of a wicked face plant trying to track down Torii Hunter's big fly in the seventh.
In the seventh, all golfers knew what Dustin Pedroia was thinking when he double-hit a ball. Much talking ensued, Pedroia's ground-out was waved off and the ball correctly called foul. All the drama didn't lead to much, as Pedroia popped up the very next pitch.
Streaks and stats:
- Miguel Cabrera's first-inning double extended his hitting streak to nine games. He's hitting .419 with two doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs during the streak.
- Cabrera is also hitting .500 with 15 RBIs with runners in scoring position this season.
- Cabrera also has 96 three-hit games as a Tiger, tied with Willie Horton for 13th in club history.
- Grady Sizemore's single in the second was the first hit Anibal Sanchez ever allowed at Fenway Park.
- Ian Kinsler singled and doubled in his first two at-bats, giving him 17 multi-hit games on the season. That ties him for the AL lead.
- Kinsler had his first four-hit game since August 27 of last season.
- In what may be the most amazing stat at this point of the season, Victor Martinez's third-inning big fly gave him more home runs than strikeouts, 10-to-9.
- Anibal Sanchez allowed two runs, one earned, in his five innings of work. Tigers starting pitchers have now allowed three runs or less in 18 of their last 19 games. The only black mark during the stretch was Justin Verlander serving up five runs (all in one inning) in the Tigers' 7-5 win over the Orioles last Wednesday. Before that, the last starter to allow more than three runs in an appearance was Rick Porcello on April 25, charged with four in a 10-6 win over the Twins.
Ian Kinsler: It's far too early to declare a winner of the trade, but the Tigers' dealing for Kinsler has been an outright fleecing of the Rangers to this point. Kinsler twisted the knife in the Rangers even further with a 4-for-5 night, and is now hitting .315/.345/.455 on the season. Meanwhile Prince Fielder is sidelined with a neck injury and scuffling badly at .247/.360/.360.
Miguel Cabrera: Three hits, a sacrifice fly, two RBIs and a run scored. Shaking the hands of fans, hitting the ball all over the field, Cabrera is back to being Cabrera. His slash line is creeping back into normal territory (for him, of course) at .316/.357/.532.
The bullpen: They again slammed the door ... HARD. Five relievers - Robbie Ray, Evan Reed, Al Alburquerque, Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain - combined to allow only one hit over the final four innings.
Anibal Sanchez: Wasn't sharp after being on the shelf for three weeks. But you couldn't ask for more than one earned run in five innings.
Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter: Both went yard - Martinez with a two-run shot, Hunter's a solo job.
Andrew Romine: Fine on defense, but he was hitless in four at-bats. Romine is now in an 0-for-14 skid.
The defense: Two throwing errors, one costing the Tigers a run.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
GAME 38 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Rick Porcello ran away and hid in the PotG balloting, taking 96% of the vote thanks to winning his seventh game of the season with eight innings of one-run ball.