The Seattle Mariners took an early lead against the Detroit Tigers, ultimately holding on for a 3-2 victory. The Tigers short winning streak was snapped at two games, dropping their record on the west coast swing to 3-3.
Chris Young got the start and the win for the Mariners, having little trouble handling the Tigers. Young pitched into the seventh, giving up just two runs on three hits while striking out six and walking two.
The Mariners needed four relievers over the final three innings. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth, stranding the tying on second in recording his 14th save.
Detroit starter Drew Smyly had his second consecutive rough outing, taking the loss. The young left-hander averaged 26 pitches a frame and was pulled after just four innings having allowed three runs and seven hits, striking out five. Amazingly, despite the high pitch count, Smyly only walked one.
Needed for an extended outing, the Tigers' bullpen was lights out. Evan Reed, Al Alburquerque and Ian Krol shutout the Mariners on one hit over the final four innings.
The Mariners are far from being an offensive juggernaut, or even good for that matter. But they did enough with eight hits to beat the Tigers. Light-hitting Willie Bloomquist led the Mariners with two hits and two RBI. Just as light-hitting Cole Gillespie chipped in with two hits and an RBI.
Detroit could only muster six hits against five Mariners pitchers. Miguel Cabrera supplied most of the offense with his tenth home run of the season. Austin Jackson scored on a seventh inning wild pitch to cap the Tigers' scoring.
You aren't going win many games when your starter throws 105 pitches in the four innings and your offense only has six hits. When the likes of Bloomquist and Gillespie lead a team to victory, you truly deserve to lose.
Regardless, thanks to a smoking hot start to the month, the Tigers wrap up an odd May with a 17-12 record and a 586 winning percentage. Oeerall, the Tigers remain handily in first pace by 5 1/2 games thanks to a 31-21, .596 record.
Not so bad a record in retrospect, but it sure was a roller coaster ride getting there.
More Tigers - Mariners coverage
Mariners' junk-baller Chris Young started the night by doling out zeroes, retiring the first six batters he faced. Drew Smyly wasn't as effective, allowing a first inning walk, then finding trouble in the bottom of the second. Smyly allowed four singles in the inning, the Mariners taking advantage with a 2-0 lead.
Stefen Romero (entering the at-bat hitting .191) reached base with a ground ball just past Nick Castellanos at third. Smyly broke John Buck's (.211) bat, yet he was still able to muscle a bloop into short center, putting runners on the corners. Cole Gillespie (.231) made it a 1-0 game on a perfectly placed swinging bunt, neither Smyly or Ian Kinsler able to make a play.
Two out and runners on the move, Willie Bloomquist (.192) bounced a single to left, Buck crossing the plate to make it a 2-0 game. The second inning had turned into a "death by paper cuts" scenario, dealt out by light-hitting, bottom of the order types.
Ir was an ugly inning for pitch counts, Smyly needing 38 pitches to get out of the inning. Admittedly, there was some bad luck involved in allowing two runs, as none of the balls were hit particularly hard. Conversely, none of the characters the Mariners' sent to the plate against Smyly should be getting on base, let alone driving in runs.Smyly preferred to nibble around the plate rather than go after some not very intimidating batters.
It was also a painful inning for Alex Avila behind the plate. The Tigers' backstop was forced to block several breaking balls which dived in the dirt.
Young finally allowed a base runner with two down in the third, Rajai Davis drawing a base on balls. but it didn't lead to anything, Kinsler ending the inning with a can of corn to center.
Smyly's third inning wasn't nearly as painful to watch, allowing only a single while striking out two. But his pitch count was an elevated 76. If Smyly continued to average 26 pitches a frame, the Tigers would be lucky to get even five innings out of him.
The Tigers finally got to Young in the fourth, getting on the board at the same time. Down 0-2, Cabrera mashed Young's high-80s fastball, putting a dent in the scoreboard hanging below the upper deck seats left. Cabrera's second home run in as many days gave him ten on the season, pulling the Tigers within a run at 2-1 (MLB.com video).
As Evan Reed was warming up, Smyly had more trouble with the bottom of the order in the fourth, through the defense wasn't a big help. Gillespie sent a bouncer into the hole at short. Andrew Romine's throw came in on the long hop, Cabrera unable to make a play he really should have. It was scored a base hit.
Two out and Gillespie on second after a steal, Bloomquist slapped a liner to right which Torii Hunter snagged on one hop. You know what happens next...
Hunter uncorked a throw which sailed over the cutoff man (Cabrera leaped and couldn't touch it). and was well up the third base line. Gillespie scored easily, Bloomquist advancing to second on Hunter's nonsensical throw.
Smyly would retire Chavez on a ground ball to end the inning, but the Tigers were down 3-1. Smyly's night was over after just four innings, a ridiculous 105 pitches (41 out of the strike zone) and having gone to three-ball counts on nine Mariners.
Two down in the fifth, the Tigers threatened, but failed to score. Romine's double off the right field wall was followed by a Rajai Davis walk. Kinsler just missed a home run on 3-2, the ball had the distance but curved foul. The niext pitch was a lazy fly to left on a hanging curve, ending the inning.
Being the Tigers really don't have a true long man in the bullpen, Reed was on the mound to start the bottom of the fifth. The relief parade began with a scoreless inning from Reed.
But the Tigers could nary a thing with Young's array of pitches. If he were a southpaw, the term "crafty veteran" would be used when describing him. In the sixth the Tigers were fed more of the same craftiness, Young striking out a pair in a 1-2-3 inning.
His pitch count at 101 startuing the seventh, Young was going to be on a short leash. Said leash turned out to be extremely short. Austin Jackson led off by doubling off the left field wall, only the third hit of the night for the Tigers (all for extra bases). Lloyd McClendon immediately removed his starter, replacing him with ex-Tiger Charlie Furbush.
The left-handed Furbush retired Avila, but was then removed from the game. McClendon kept playing matchups, bringing right-hander Dominic Leone into the game to face Castellanos.
The count full to Castellanos, Leone uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Jackson to score standing up. The Tigers now within a run at 3-2, Davis extended the inning by beating out a slow roller.
Kinsler made a big for extra bases, yanking a line dirve to left. But Gillespie saved at least one run with a running catch on the warning track, bailing out Leone.
Having gotten two solid innings out of Reed, Al Alburquerque took over for the seventh. Al-Al retired the side in order, making it three scoreless innings for the bullpen .
The meat oif the Tigers' order due up, Yoervis Medina got the ball for the Mariners. Cabrera on base thanks to a one out single, Martinez mirror imaged Kinsler's at-bat in the previous inning. He smoked a line shot to right on which Chavez made a running catch against the right field fence.
Jackson went down swinging to end the inning. What a surprise.
Alburquerque and Ian Krol combined in the eighth to retire the Mariners in order. The bullpen had done their job well, recording four scoreless innings. Reed, Alburquerque and Krol had allowed just one hit while striking out five.
The Tigers were down to their last three outs, the bottom half of the order facing another former Tiger. The Rodney coaster, aka Fernando Rodney, is the Mariners' closer.
As is his wont, Rodney walked the lead off man, Avila. Don Kelly, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Castellanos in the seventh, reached via a paper cut. Rodney broke his bat, but Kelly managed to drop a bloop single in short left.
Runners on first and second, Romine was asked to bunt, which was acceptable considering the situation (though J.D. Martinez was available to pinch-hit, and was left on the bench). But he couldn't get it down, missing on both attempts. A bad at-bat got far worse when Romine struck out swinging on the third pitch.
Davis batted to a full count against Rodney in what was looking to be an excellent at-bat. But it didn't end like Martinez's last night. On the tenth pitch, Davis struck out swinging on what would have been ball four.
Kinsler bounced out to end the game. I've seen that inning before. Annoying as all Hell, though Mariners fans were happy with the result.
Game over. Your final score is Mariners 3, Tigers 2. God damn, I do despise west coast trips.
The west coast swing ends Sunday afternoon in Seattle. Max Scherzer (6-1, 3.38 ERA) toes the slab for the Tigers, rookie left-hander Roenis Elias (3-4, 4.20 ERA) takes the ball for the Mariners.
After a fast start to the season the league has adjusted to Elias, as shown by his 0-2 record and 5.33 ERA over his last four starts. Schezer went into a slump with the rest of the Tigers' rotation, posting an 8.31 ERA while earning a pair of no-decisions in his last two appearances.
First pitch at Safeco is set for 4:10 PM. This will be the last game of an exhausting cross-country stretch for Tigers, 17 games without a day off. Monday is a travel/rest day before Detroit starts a six game home stand on Tuesday.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Victor Martinez isn't happy when he makes an out.
If you're looking for a little comedy relief, check out a singing Rod Allen.
STREAKS AND STATS:
Lots of Miguel Cabrera:
Thanks to his fourth inning big fly, Cabrera has 34 RBIs in May. That's tied for the 4th most in franchise history and the most since Damion Easley had 34 RBIs in 1998.
Cabrera also has 375 home runs in his career, one back of Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk for 71st in MLB history.
The dinger was his 237th as Tiger, putting Cabrera two back Rudy York for seventh overall in franchise history.
Miguel Cabrera: Two hts, homering for the second time in two nights. Cabrera's 48 RBIs are second in the AL.
Evan Reed, Al Alburquerque and Ian Krol: The bullpen trio shutout the Mariners on one hit over four innings, retiring the last ten batters they faced.
Drew Smyly: Against a very weak offensive team missing it's best player, Smyly wanted to nibble at the corners of the plate. It cost him dearly, as Smyly had trouble putting batters away, causing him to go deep into the count far too often. Throwing 105 pitches in four innings is completely unacceptable. Smyly is better than this.
Alex Avila: Though Avila continues to play well defensively, he's stopped getting on base altogether. Avila was hitting .240 with a .367 OBP. Including tonight, in the eight games since, Avila has only two hits and four walks, dropping his to .206/333/.373. If Avila isn't drawing walks, he needs to hit. Right now, he's doing neither. You have to wonder just how beat up Avila is at the moment and how it's affecting him offensively. (Obviously, this was written before his lead off walk in the ninth, but the point still stands)
Torii Hunter: A brutal game for the veteran; 0-for-4, three strikeouts and a missed cutoff man. When Hunter has a bad a game, it's usually a doozy.
Andrew Romine: You had one job to do, Romine. Drop down a bunt. But you struck out instead. Post game, Brad Ausmus said it can be tough to get a bunt down when the pitcher is throwing 97 MPH. Then why ask him to do so when you have J.D. Martinez rotting on the bench?
Austin Jackson: He did double and score a run, but Jackson is still having an awful month at the plate. With tonight's 1-for-4, the Tigers' number five hitter is riding the Mendoza Line for the month of May at .200. Overall, Jackson is down to .244/.307/389 on the season. In other words, it's past tme to move Jackson down in the order ... but who do you move up behind Victor Martinez? The Tigers are getting next to offense from anyone batting in the 5-thru-9 spots in the order. Nick Castrellanos is hitting .233/.281/.356. I've already mentioned Avila's on ongoing struggles and we all know there no offense coming from shortstop. As much as Jackson should be moved down in the order, right now the Tigers have no one capable of replacing him.
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GAME 51 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Justin Verlander 7 2/3 innings topped Victor Martinez's ten pitch at-bat, three rum hone run in the PotG balloting, Miguel Cabrera a distant third.