A disastrous sixth inning for the Detroit Tigers paved the way for their third straight loss, an 8-2 shellacking by the Chicago White Sox. The Tigers have now lost eight of their past 10 games and 16 of their last 22. At the end of Wednesday's play, the Tigers are still in first place, but the other four AL Central teams are within four games of first. The Royals are closest, lurking two games back.
White Sox starter John Danks allowed one run and six hits over seven innings to earn the victory, evening his record at 5-5. Justin Verlander was rocked for seven runs in 5 2/3 innings, the loss dropping him to 6-6 on the season.
The Tigers could only muster eight hits on the night. Torii Hunter drove in a run with a ground ball, Rajai Davis the other with an RBI double, one of his two hits. Nick Castellanos and Austin Jackson also had a pair of base hits.
For the White Sox, Jose Abreu hit his 19th home run for one of his three hits. Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez also had a pair of base hits. Conor Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham each had two RBIs for Chicago.
Nick Castellanos: The rookie third baseman had two hits, and also made a sparkling defensive play to save a run when the game was still in doubt. Castellanos has a .467 batting average over his last eight games.
Austin Jackson: Two hits on the night for the only starting outfielder who has regained his batting stroke. Jackson is hitting .500 over his last six games.
Rajai Davis: 2-for-5 with an RBI double and a stolen base.
Al Alburquerque, Corey Knebel and Phil Coke: Held the White Sox scoreless over the final 2 1/3 innings.
Justin Verlander: Five solid innings will be forgotten because of one awful inning in which he should have been pulled at least two batters earlier. Verlander entered the sixth having allowed one run on three hits. When the sixth was over, Verlander's line was far worse - 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 6 K. Verlander's ERA is now a sky-high 4.61. Post-game, analyst Craig Monroe summed up Verlander's issues when he said, "Batters are no longer intimidated" by him.
Ian Krol: Faced three batters, succeeded in making a bad sixth inning worse. Krol gave up a run scoring double, an intentional walk and a run scoring single before being pulled.
Ian Kinsler: Entered tonight's game in his first real slump as a Tiger. Kinsler topped out at a .330 batting average on May 25. With a 1-for5 tonight, Kinsler is hitting .145 (9-for-62) over his last 14 games.
"Been saying that for about three weeks. I'm tired of saying it." -Ausmus, when asked about things not going Detroit's way.
Torii Hunter: The veteran hasn't been much better than Kinsler. Entering tonight's action, Hunter was hitting a miserable .188/.182/.281 (6-for-32) over his last nine games. In a particularly ugly at-bat in the sixth, Hunter went down swinging on three pitches, the last on a ball closer to Urbana than home plate.
Ugly. I'm going to use that Hunter plate appearance video in a training course with the kids on how not to approach an at-bat.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 12, 2014
Hunter did drive home a run with a ground ball, so that's something.
Brad Ausmus: Some awful strategy and his handling of Verlander shows Ausmus has a long way to go as a manager. Sacrifice bunting in the fifth is damn near inexcusable. His handling of Verlander was worse. Ausmus looked as if he was going to pull his starter after Verlander had allowed two runs, had Ian Krol ready to go and a lefty at the plate. Instead, Ausmus allowed Verlander to talk him into remaining in the game, which resulted in a walk, a two RBI single and a game which was on it's way to another ugly loss.
Fastballs to Jose Abreu: Leading off the second inning, Verlander challenged the White Sox's rookie slugger a first pitch 92 MPH fastball. Abreu deposited the ball deep into the stands in left center. Not a smart bit of pitching by Verlander.
Inefficient innings: Verlander threw a season-high 122 pitches in just 5 2/3 innings. He needed 33 pitches to get out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the third, all but ensuring Verlander would not be pitching deep into the game. The sixth was more of the same, Verlander throwing 33 pitches before he was yanked with two outs.
Productive outs: Or situational hitting or manufacturing runs, take your pick. The Tigers scored their first run off John Danks via a Miguel Cabrera double, a Victor Martinez fly out and a Torii Hunter RBI ground ball. Something we haven't seen as of late, being Detroit has been living and dying on hitting the long ball to score.
Bunting: Eugenio Suarez entered the game with an OPS of 1.326 in four games. No one out and runners on first and second in the fifth, Brad Ausmus had his white hot shortstop bunt. Suarez moved the runners over, but Ausmus gave away an out. The result? A scoreless inning, Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler unable to get a run home. There's a place for bunting. Doing so in the fifth inning with a hot hitter at the plate isn't one of them.
Annnnd .... THAT is why you don't give away free outs.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 12, 2014
STREAKS AND STATS:
A second-inning single extended Austin Jackson's hitting streak to six games. Jackson started the streak after a 1-for-22 stretch in the seven games previous.
Victor Martinez extended his hitting streak to six games with a sixth-inning single.
Jose Abreu has hit four home runs against Tigers pitching this season. After being victimized in the second inning, Justin Verlander has served up two to Abreu. Drew Smyly and Rick Porcello have also given up homers to the White Sox slugger.
By stealing second after being picked off the third, Rajai Davis has 18 stolen bases, tied for second in the AL. He's now stolen two bases in his last three games. Before that, Davis had gone a seven games without a stolen base and had swiped just two over a 16 game stretch (May 17 - June 7).
A Tigers team which started the season 27-12 over their first 39 games is now 6-16 over their last 22.
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