The Detroit Tigers' winning streak ended at one game, their starting pitching remaining in a funk. The Texas Rangers knocked Rick Porcello out of the game with 12 hits and eight runs, six earned, in 5 1/3 innings in an11-1 walkover. After winning six straight games and 15-of-18, the Tigers have lost 5-of 6.
None of the games in between the two teams have been close. In their two losses to the Rangers, the Tigers have been outscored 20-3. Their one win in the series was by five runs at 7-2.
The main culprit behind the Tigers' week long slump has been their starting pitching, which has dropped off a cliff. Today was no different. Porcello (L, 7-2) posted season worst numbers (12 H, 8 R, 6 ER) in just 5 1/3 innings. The loss snaps his personal winning streak at six games.
Highly touted prospect Corey Knebel's big league debut went about as badly as it could have. He allowed three runs on three hits and two walks, striking out one in an inning of work.
Rangers' rookie starter Nick Martinez (W, 1-1) had little trouble with the Tigers' bats, earning his first career victory. He scattered eight hits in six innings, allowing just one run.
The Rangers clobbered Tigers' floundering pitching for 19 hits. Number nine hitter Rougned Odor has a huge afternoon, with four hits, driving in five with a pair of RBI triples. Number eight hitter Daniel Murphy also had a big day, reaching base four times on two hits ad two walks, adding two RBIs and three runs scored. Alex Rios chipped in three hits. Adrian Beltre had a pair of base hits, including a solo home run.
What little offense the Tigers' mustered came in the first and ninth innings. Rajai Davis had an RBI double in the first, scoring a run in the ninth. Ian Kinsler continued to rake with three hits, including an RBI single in the ninth.
Kinsler is 7-for-12 in three games against his old team, and leads the AL in hitting at .333. Victor Martinez had three hits, right behind his teammate in the batting race at .331. Andrew Romine added two hits and a run scored.
Since Porcelllo beat the Red Sox last Sunday, the Tigers have a 1-5 record and have been outscored 45-27. Three of the five losses have been by four runs or more. They are due to break out, and are too good to play this badly for an extended period. But I'm not confident the Tigers will snap out of their slump immediately. Why? They are heading off on a seven game west coast swing (which starts without a day off) on Monday. Late nights out west tend to get weird for the Tigers.
Even with a dreaded west coast trip looming, this week can't come to an end soon enough.
Rick Porcello served up an lead off single to Shin-Soo-Choo, but got out of the top of the first thanks to an inning ending, strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play (Mitch Moreland K, Alex Avila throwing out Choo at third) via a Brad Ausmus umpire challenge
The Tigers threatened in the bottom half of the inning against Rangers' rookie right-hander Nick Martinez. Miguel Cabrera drew a two out walk, advancing to third on Victor Martinez's double into the left field corner. A chance to take an early lead went south when Austin Jackson popped up.
Bottom of two, Andrew Romine went from snapping a long hitless skein last night to a two game hitting streak today. The Tigers' shortstop kicked off a two out rally with a single to left
Joe Buck's semi-sarcastic call on Romine's single:
"He's red hot!"
Once again, Rajai Davis showed he's a different hitter with runners on base (so far, anyway). He yanked a ground ball just inside the third base bag, rolling into the area vacated by the ball boy in left. Romine was able to score all the way from first without a throw.
Davis then got himself picked off, but his RBI double had given the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
While FS1 was in one of their asinine in-game interviews and missed much of the play, the Tigers botched a run down to hand the Rangers a scoring threat.
Donnie Murphy on first with a one out single, Rougned Odor beat off a slow chopper to short. Romine's throw pulled Cabrera off the bag, but he noticed Murphy was caught in no-man's and started running right at him. Unfortunately, the Tigers ended up with six players on the shortstop side of the bag, and no one covering first.
I think I’m more angry at Fox’s coverage of that play than I am of that play itself.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 24, 2014
Porcello shook off the infield's brain cramp, getting the next two outs on back-to-back fielder's choice force plays at second, pitching out of further trouble.
Torii Hunter's defensive misadventures in the top of the fourth played a large part in the Rangers taking the lead.
Adrian Beltre on first base with two out, Chris Gimenez hit a liner to deep right field. Hunter tried the ridiculous deke that no one ever falls for, played the ball off the wall, then overshot the cutoff man. Romine was backing up Ian Kinsler and caught the throw, turned and fired home. Avila was unable to hold on to the ball, which allowed Gimenez to advance to third.
When the dust settled, the game was tied at 1-all, Gimenez credited with an RBI double and Avila charged with an error. In all honestly, the inning quite likely would have been over if Hunter hits the cutoff man. The extra time it took for Romine to make the play allowed Beltre to score.
At that point, the wheels fell off for Porcello.
Leonys Martin gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead with a seeing eye bouncer to center. Porcello then walked the .222 hitting Murphy on four pitches. Odor proceeded to clear the bases by tripling into the right field corner, giving the Rangers a 4-1 advantage.
Porcello finally got out of an ugly inning on a Choo ground ball. But all four Rangers' runs had scored with two out.
Given a three run lead, Martinez retired the Tigers in order while Buck was doing a puff interview with Justin Verlander about Zubaz.
@blessyouboys I'm so over the freaking Zubaz.— Patrick OKennedy (@Tigerdog_1) May 24, 2014
Make that six straight outs for Martinez since he picked off Davis in second.
Two out in the fifth (thanks to Ausmus winning another challenge overturning a safe call on a stolen base), Porcello served up a massive home run to Beltre.
Adrian Beltre just hit a ball to Dearborn— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 24, 2014
Beltre's fifth home run of the season increased the Rangers' lead to 5-1.
For 2 2/3 innings, we saw the 2014 version of Porcello - one hit, no runs, four strikeouts. He then reverted back to the 2013 version. Post two out in the third, Porcello had allowed nine hits, a walk, and five runs, striking out just one.
The Tigers threatened in the bottom of the fifth, only to strand a pair. Martinez went to 3-0 on Nick Castellanos, then struck him out on three pitches. The suddenly hot Romine singled, taking second on Ian Kinsler's two out single. But a bad game for Hunter proceeded post haste, weakly bouncing to short, ending the inning.
Porcello's bad game got worse in the sixth thanks to inability to retire anyone hitting at the bottom of the Rangers' order. Martin led off with a single, scoring on Murphy's opposite field home run to right. His second home run of the season made it a 7-1 game.
After walking Choo on four pitches, Ausmus finally decided to make a pitching change. Six runs down with one out in the sixth, Ausmus decided it would be a good time to rookie right-hander Corey Knebel's feet wet.
Porcello's worst start of the season coming after being pushed back due to soreness in his side makes you wonder just how much the injury could be affecting him.
Andrus was the first batter Knebel faced, getting the force at second on a hard comebacker. Morleland followed with a fly ball to deep left center. It's a play we've seen Jackson make countless times. But this time, he didn't. He got his glove on the ball, but it dropped to the warning track. The official scorer somehow gave Moreland a gift RBI double on a fly ball which didn't require an extraordinary effort from Jackson.
Regardless, the Tigers were now down 8-1.
The Tigers may not have been completely down and out of today's game, but after loading the bases with one out in the sixth and failing to score? It was all but over, making a bad day and week worse.
After giving up back-to-back-to-back singles by VMart, Jackson and Avila, Martinez was on the verge of being knocked out of the game. The bases loaded the bases for Castellanos, the rookie hit the ball hard. But his liner was directly at the Rangers' second baseman, Odor. Avila compounded the Tigers' bad all-around play by finding himself too far off the bag, and was doubled off first, ending the inning.
Knebel's introduction to the big leagues didn't end in fairy tale fashion. It turned into nightmare thanks to a brutal seventh. He allowed a lead off single, then walked the bases loaded with two out. Odor emptied the bases a second time, tripling off the scoreboard in right center to turn the game into a true blowout at 11-1.
Ausmus pulled Knebel, replacing him with the Human White Flag, Phil Coke. Coke ended the inning on a strikeout and a chopper to short, but it was officially garbage time.
While Danny Worth was warming up in the bullpen, The Tigers had a meaningless threat in the eighth. Martinez singled, Jackson doubled to left center, Castellanos walking to load the bases for Romine. He bounced to third, ending another frustrating inning.
Victor Martinez with three hits today, zero runs scored. Production behind him in the lineup is severely lacking.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 24, 2014
The Tigers' bullpen overworked to the point of exhaustion thanks to the starter's slump, Worth was forced back into relief duty for the second time in three games.
Not even Worth could stop the Rangers. After retiring the first two Rangers he faced, Worth allowed a run on three straight hits, though only one was hit hard. Odor dropped a bloop in short left for a double. Michael Choice doubled off the left field fence to make it 12-1 Rangers. Andrus followed with a bleeder to right, runners now on the corners. But Worth pitched out of further trouble, Moreland bouncing out to first. Worth even remembered to cover the bag.
The Tigers scored a meaningless run in the ninth. Davis doubled, Kinsler singling him home.
Game over. Yout final score is Rangers 12, Tigers 2.
Well, that sucked.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 24, 2014
Let's forget this week ever happened.
Sunday's series finale against the Rangers is also the end of a very short four game home stand for the Tigers. Texas right-hander Colby Lewis (3-3, 5.40 ERA) will take on Justin Verlander (5-3, 3.55 ERA).
Lewis, an ex-Tiger (a blink and you missed it two games in 2006), missed all of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery. He has made seven starts for the Rangers this season, in only one has he reached the sixth inning. Lewis took the loss in his last outing against the Mariners, surrendering five runs on nine hits, walking three and striking out six in six innings.
Verlander is coming off a rocky outing against the Indians, allowing all five runs in his first two innings. He ultimately worked five innings in a 6-2 loss, allowing a season high 11 hits, walking three and tying his season low of just two strikeouts.
Sunday's first pitch is scheduled for 1:08 PM. The Tigers then leave town for a seven games in seven days west coast road swing.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
An early umpire challenge by Brad Ausmus took a fair amount of time, which led to some infield socializing while players waited for the top of the inning to end.
PARTY AT 3RD BASE!! pic.twitter.com/SB75iYFM0p— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 24, 2014
Porcello impressed the Fox Sports 1 crew with an easy 1-2-3 second inning, striking out a pair. This is Joe Buck's quote as they went to commercial:
"Pin-point control for the suddenly strike-throwing machine named Rick Porcello!"
Chris Gimenez, one of Porcello's strikeout victims, agreed.
Chris Gimenez seems somewhat defeated pic.twitter.com/6mPWdlUifJ— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 24, 2014
Things quickly changed for the worse ... for both Porcello and Buck.
Buck was seriously off his game. A typical example was with Mitch Moreleand at the plate, a ball hit "off the end of his bat" was caught by Austin Jackson in front of the warning track in deep left center.
The only interesting thing about the end of the game was watching Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez battle for the AL batting lead. Worth's single has him at .333, Martinez ended the game with a strikeout, dropping him to .331.
STATS AND STREAKS:
Ian Kinsler's hitting streak reached ten games with his fifth inning single.
Kinsler's single in the seventh gives him 21 multi-hit games on the season.
Kinsler raised his AL leading batting average to .333, first in the AL.
Victor Martinez's three hits has him two points behind with Kinsler for the AL lead at .331.
Corey Knebel made his major league debut. Unfortunately, he also allowed his first hits, runs and walks, though he did record his first K.
In two separate innings, the Rangers' pitchers bounced pitches to the backstop with a runner on third base. Being the runner was Martinez, the Tigers didn't score either time.
Danny Worth pitched for the second time in three days. Drew Butera, a backup catcher for the Dodgers, is the only other position player to pitch twice this season.
Andrew Romine: His bat has woken up after a long and brutal slumber. Two singles today gives him three hits in the last two games. Romine also scored the Tigers' first run of the day.
Victor Martinez: Another solid game for the veteran DH with three hits, raising his slash line to a marvelous .331/.387..606
Ian Kinsler: Three more hits for the ex-Ranger. Kinsler is 7-for-12 in the first three games of the series.
Danny Worth: Entered the game to rescue a wiped out bullpen. He allowed a run on three hits, raising his ERA to 4.50. But a position player pitching will get a ROAR every time.
Joe Buck: When Harold Reynolds was yammering about the Tigers being in trouble, Buck gets a ROAR for this reply:
"Are you talking just to talk?"
Rick Porcello: With Max Scherzer, Justin Velrander and Robbie Ray all having their worst starts of the season over the past six days, Porcello followed suit. He allowed season highs of eight runs (six earned) and 12 hits, failing to reach the sixth inning for only the second time in nine starts. Is the side injury affecting him?
Torii Hunter's defense: His awful defensive play makes one pine for the days of Brennan Boesch patrolling right field. At least Boesch knew his limitations. Hunter still tries to make plays only elite defenders can pull off. Hunter doesn't seem to realize he hasn't been an elite defender for years. Hunter was also hitless on the afternoon.
Corey Knebel: Hopefully the rookie reliever will earn a few ROARS. But his MLB debut was not a memorable one, allowing three runs on a bases clearing triple in the seventh.
Fox Sports 1's broadcast: It seemed FOX's number one team of Buck, Verducci, Reynolds and Rosenthal spent most of the afternoon talking about everything going on in the week in baseball, causing them to get to on-field action too late. Don't get me going on the utter waste of time which is the in-game dugout interview. Then there was the nausea inducing camera angles.
Fox’s camera transitions are slower than Victor Martinez running first to third.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 24, 2014
This camera man is drunk— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 24, 2014
it is impossible to know what's going on from these camera angles and announcers.— Kurt Mensching (@BYBKurt) May 24, 2014
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GAME 43 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Ian Kinsler's three doubles, an RBI and three runs scored against his old team pushed him to the top of the PotG balloting, taking 49% of the vote.