In dire need of a victory, the slumping Detroit Tigers pulled away late in a 6-2 win over the slumping Boston Red Sox. The Tigers snapped a five game losing streak, while the Red Sox's own losing streak stands at four.
Post game, manager Brad Ausmus announced Alex Avila suffered a mild concussion after David Ortiz's back swing caught the Tigers' starting catcher on the side of the head. Avila will be kept out of the lineup tomorrow night.
Detroit starter Drew Smyly (W, 3-4) was 0-3 in his last six starts, not recording a victory since May 3.The young lefty snapped out a month-long funk with six solid innings, allowing two runs, only one earned, on five hits. The Tigers bullpen took over from there and slammed the door on the Red Sox. Ian Krol, Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan each contributed a scoreless inning of work.
Boston starter Rubby De La Rosa (L, 1-1) was saddled with the loss, tagged with four runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings. The Tigers added a pair of insurance runs off of Chris Capuano, the third of four Red Sox pitchers.
The Tigers' offense had 13 hits on the night, their first game in double digits since beating the Athletics seven games ago. Yet it would be the long ball which did most of the damage for Detroit - Ian Kinsler, Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez all homered for the winners. Nick Castellanos joined Hunter in leading the Tigers with three hits, Martinez also driving in a pair of runs.
The punchless Red Sox were held to seven hits. Xander Bogaerts opened Boston's scoring with a first inning double. Johnny Gomes capped off a quiet night for the Red Sox offense with a seventh inning sacrifice fly.
The Tigers raise their record to 32-25, .561, third best in the AL. At worse, they will maintain their 2 1/2 game lead over the White Sox, who are playing on the west coast this weekend. The win also pushes Detroit's home record over the .500 mark at 15-14.
For one of the few times over the past three weeks, the Tigers fired on all cylinders, playing like the team which reached 15 games over .500 by rampaging through the American League.
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Drew Smyly went to an 0-2 count versus the first two batters he faced. Smyly was down 1-0 after facing said batters.
Smyly made a 0-2 mistake to lead off man Brock Holt, resulting in a lead off single back through the box. His 0-2 mistake pitch to Xander Bogaerts missed landing in the bullpen by a few inches, Holt scroing on the RBI double.
Smyly settled down from there, retiring the next three batters in order. But the the Tigers were in a 1-0 hole after 1/2 inning.
Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa had a far easier first inning, retiring the side in order on just seven pitches. The second was more of the same for De La Rosa, the Tigers going down 1-2-3.
Smyly had settled in as well, recording a 1-2-3 third. Nick Castellanos became the first Tiger to reach base, leading off the bottom of the third by doubling down the line in right. Andrew Romine recorded his first RBI since May 23 by bouncing a single to center, Castellanos crossing the plate, tying the game at 1-all.
Two out in the fourth, Johnny Gomes doubled into the left field corner. Smyly pitched out of trouble relatively easily, A.J. Pierzynski grounding out to second, stranding the runner.
Bottom of four, back-to-back singles by Torii hunter and Miguel Cabrera put runners on the corners with no one out. Victor Martinez slugged a drive to deep right center, but Jackie Bradley Jr. made a miraculous running catch near the scoreboard. Hunter tagged up and scored, giving the Tigers back the lead at 2-1. But Cabrera had already rounded second, and was a dead base runner, easily doubled off first.
Of course, Avila and Austin Jackson would follow up with back-to-back singles. De La Rosa pitched out of further trouble when Castellanos lined out to right. The Tigers had four hits and a sacrifice fly in the inning, only to score one run.
One down in the fifth, Jonathan Herrera's liner rolled to the right field wall for a double. He was helped by Hunter's odd route, which left him unable to cut the ball off. Smyly pitched around the two-bagger by striking out Bradley and Holt bouncing out.
The Tigers increased their lead in the bottom half of the fifth. Two out and no one on base, Ian Kinsler (MLB.com video) and Hunter (MLB.com video) both went yard. The back-to-back solo jacks (sixth of the season for Kinsler, ninth for Hunter) pushed Detroit's lead to 4-1. A staggered De La Rosa wanted nothing to do with Cabrera, walking him on four pitches. He then uncoked a wild pitch, Cabrera advancing to second. Martinez went hammer and tong with De La Rosa in a long, eight pitch at bat, but ultimately bounced out to end a fireworks filled fifth.
Top of six, Romine's throwing error helped put Smyly in a jam, leading to an unearned run. Dustin Pedroia bounced to short, but was safe when Romine's throw pulled Cabrera off the bag. Pedroia advanced to third on a David Ortiz single and scored on Gomes' sacrifice fly.
Smyly crossed the 100 pitch mark during Gomes' long at-bat, assuring he would be pulled after six innings.
Bottom of six, Castellanos' hot home stand continued with a two out single. Romine followed up with a base on balls, which was enough for Red Sox manager John Farrell to pull De La Rosa after 96 pitches.
Burke Badenhop took over for the rookie, ending the inning on Rajai Davis' ground out.
Up two runs, Brad Ausmus put the game in the hands of his bullpen. First to pitch was Ian Krol. The lefty allowed a single to the right-hand swinging Herrera, but retired all three left-handed Red Sox batters he faced.
Top of eight, Joba Chamberlain was in his normal setup role.
Joba will get 8th inning duty. As every day passes, he looks more and more like Yukon Cornelius. pic.twitter.com/0n81ZezQkc— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 7, 2014
Once again, Yukon was lights out, setting the side down in order.
Bottom of eight, Chris Capuano replaced Badenhop ... but didn't last long. Martinez greeted Capuano by clubbing his 14th home run of the season, a solo shot to left (MLB.com video).
Bryan Holaday, who replaced an injured Avila in the eighth, slapped a liner into the right center field gap. The ball rolled all the way to the scoreboard, the Tigers' backup catcher rumbling to third for a legit triple. That was it for Capuano.
Facing Edward Mujica, Jackson lifted a sacrifice fly to right, Holoday jogging home with the Tigers' sixth and final run of the night.
Looking for a little redemption, Joe Nathan pitched the ninth inning even though it wasn't a save situation. The Tigers' beleaguered closer allowed a two out bloop single to Grady Sizemore, but otherwise looked solid in nailing down the win.
LOSING STREAK OVER.
About DAMN time the Tigers played like the TIGERS. Good guys beat the East Coast Axis of Evil, 6-2.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 7, 2014
The next mission to win again tomorrow and put the last three weeks in the rear view mirror post-haste.
Game two between the Red Sox and Tigers has left-hander Jon Lester (6-4, 3.29 ERA) on the mound for Boston, Max Scherzer (6-2, 3.68 ERA) toeing the rubber for Detroit.
The Tigers last faced Lester on May 16, beating the Red Sox 1-0 behind Scherzer's six shutout innings. Lester was almost as good, holding the Tigers to one run over five innings.
Lester has a 4.66 ERA in three starts since that loss. But he's coming off a gem, shutting out the Rays over seven innings in his last appearance. Scherzer has struggled mightily after beating the Red Sox, posting a 7.32 ERA in 19 1/3 innings over this last three starts.
Saturday night's first pitch at Comerica Park is scheduled for 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Torii Hunter entered tonight's game 0-12 on the home stand and hitting .155/.167 /.345 during the 17 game slump. Hunter broke out in a huge was with three hits, giving the Tigers something they have lacked as of late, offensive production from the outfield.
Andrew Romine's RBI single in the third was his first run driven in since May 23. He had three since the start of May.
The Tigers hit back-to-back home runs for just the second time this year when Ian Kinsler and Hunter accomplished the feat in the fifth. It was done previously on May 13, 2014 at Baltimore by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
Joba Chamberlain has not allowed a run in 11 straight outings and 17 of his last 18. He has a 1.02 ERA over the 18 game span.
Bryan Holaday's eighth inning three-bagger was the first triple of his career.
Alex Alvia was hit in the head by David Ortiz's back swing in the eighth. He was forced to leave the game after not passing Big Papi's concussion test.
Alex Avila didn't pass Big Papi's concussion test, and is replaced by Bryan Holaday. pic.twitter.com/j3MVkGhgTZ— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 7, 2014
Post game, Brad Ausmus said Avila had suffered a mild concussion. He was removed when he did not answer a question from trainer Kevin Rand correctly. Avila will not play on Saturday.
Drew Smyly: Nice bounce back start after a couple of very shaky outings - 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. Smyly pitched six innings for the first time since he went six in a win over the Orioles on May 13.
Nick Castellanos: Three hits and a run scored for the rookie. Castellanos is heating up, 7-for-13 on the home stand.
Torii Hunter: Snapped out a bad funk with three hits, one a big fly,. two runs scored and an RBI. Regardless, Hunter's defense still scared the bejebus out of me.
I hold my breath anytime Hunter looks shaky going after a fly ball in right. I'm surprised I haven't turned blue and passed out yet.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 7, 2014
Victor Martinez: Drove in a pair with a sacrifice fly and a solo home run.
The bullpen: Ian Krol, Yukon Cornelius. and Joe Nathan shut out the Red Sox on two hits over the last three innings.
Rajai Davis: The only Tiger to not reach base tonight, 0-for-3 with a strikeout. coming into today, Davis is hitting just .247/.284/.393 since May 1.
Sorry, no commenter stats tonight. The on-line tool we use was out of commission.