Apparently the ninth inning spells DOOM for the Detroit Tigers, as the bullpen coughed up another late lead. Joba Chamberlain served up a ninth inning three run home run to David Ortiz, giving the Boston Red Sox a come-from-behind 5-3 victory.
The home run allowed the Red Sox to salvage one game of the weekend series, snapping a five game losing streak. The Tigers' own short winning streak was stopped after two games. Despite winning their first series in a month, Detroit has lost 6-of-8 and their lead in the AL Central is down to three games over Indians.
In other bad news for the Tigers, slugger Miguel Cabrera was pulled from the game in the sixth inning due to a leg injury. It was later announced Cabrera was suffering from tightness in his left hamstring, and was considered day-to-day.
If not for Ortiz's home run, Red Sox starter John Lackey (W, 7-4) would have had his second straight complete game loss. It turned into an eight inning victory, giving up three runs on seven hits, striking out five. Koji Uehara pitched the ninth to earn his 12th save.
Anibal Sanchez remains pitching in hard luck. He allowed just two runs and six hits in six innings, striking out seven. He's allowed three runs total in his last three starts, earning a no-decision in each, all three games Detroit losses. Phil Coke pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, setting up Joba Chamberlain (L, 1-3). Pitching in place of Joe Nathan, who had the night off, Chamberlain did his best Nathan impression. He allowed three runs on three hits, earning a blown save and the loss.
Ortiz had only one of the 11 Red Sox hits, but hjs three run homer was by far the biggest. Rookie Brock Holt had a huge game with three singes, a triple and a run scored. Mike Napoli added three hits, one a solo home run.
The Tigers only had seven hits on the night. Rookie shortstop Eugenio Suarez led the way with a pair of RBI singles, giving him three hits and three RBIs over the last two games. Before leaving the game, Cabrera had a pair of hits and a run scored.
It's a shame taking 2-of-3 this weekend and 5-of-6 in the season series with the Red Sox left such an unpleasant taste in one's mouth. I can handle an ugly loss, they happen. But did it have to be freaking Ortiz .... AGAIN?
On the bight side, the Tigers DID win two games this weekend and won their first series since sweeping these same Red Sox in mid-May. So all is not lost, especially if the Tigers can sting together a few series wins over the next two weeks. Their next 14 games are all against Central rivals, giving the Tigers an opportunity to put some distance between them and the competition.
The first inning was a tale of pitch counts. Anibal Sanchez struck out two, but needed 20 pitches to retire the side in order. John Lackey gave up a couple of shots, but needed just ten pitches in recording a 1-2-3 inning.
Sanchez got into his first bit of trouble after one was out in the third. Back-to-back one out singles from Jackie Bradley, Jr and Brock Holt and a Xander Bogaerts walk loaded the bases. Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly to center gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
Sanchez got out of the inning with a strikeout David Ortiz. But the Red Sox were doing what they do best, working the count. Through three frames, Sanchez's pitch count was an elevated 65.
Bottom of three, the Tigers countered the Red Sox score with
Austin Jackson's bat has risen from a month long slumber with six hit in his last three games. He remained hot, leading off the inning with a single. After stealing second, Jackson would score on Eugenio Suarez's RBI single to knot the game at 1-all.
Rajai Davis eliminated Suarez when he bounced into a fielder's choice. Davis stole second, his first swipe in seven games. Ian Kinsler made a bid for extra bases, but was robbed when when Brock Holt (who had never played outfield in the minors or in MLB) made a nice running catch in left.
One the other had, a career outfielder failed to haul in a catchable ball, giving the Red Sox a one out scoring opportunity in the fourth.
A.J. Pierzynski lifted a bloop down the left field line. Though the wall was several feet away, Davis left his feet before he reached the foul line. His attempt at a sliding catch came up well short, the ball landing in fair territory and bouncing into the stands. Pierzynski was credited with a ground rule double.
Daniel Nava bounced a single up the middle, the slow of foot Pierzynski forced to hold up at third. Sanchez took matters into his own hands, striking out Stephen Drew and Bradley to strand Pierzynski 90 feet away.
The middle of Detroit's order, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, used their combined powers to retake the lead. Cabrera led off by slapping a double into the right field corner. He would score on Martinez's single to right, putting the Tigers up 2-1.
But the bottom of the fourth was a weird inning for Lackey. He allowed a run and two hits, but only threw five pitches total. The two hits came off the first pitch. First pitch swinging, Torii Hunter grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Two pitches later, only the fifth of the inning, Nick Castellanos flew out to right.
Top of five, Sanchez allowed a single to Holt, then wild pitched the rookie to second. Sanchez retired the next three Red Sox batters to end a scoreless inning, but his pitch count was well into "should he go one more inning or not" territory at 101.
The score was 2-1 entering the top of the sixth. One pitch into the inning, the score was tied.
Sanchez surrendered his first home run of the season to Mike Napoli. His liner to right was Napoli's sixth home run of the season, tying the game at 2-all.
One out and Pierzynski on first after Castellanos booted his ground ball, Drew hit a dribbler to short. Saurez charged and made an on-target throw to first. But Cabrera noticed Pierzynski has taken a big turn at second, so he threw behind him. Kinsler was able to chase down Pierzynski to record a rare 6-3-4 double play.
Cabrera led off the bottom of the sixth with a singe to left, but was limping as he lumbered to first. He was unable to remain the game, and replaced by Don Kelly. DOOOOOM.
Not wanting to mess with Martinez, Lackey pitched around the Tigers' DH, preferring to face Hunter. After the unintentional intentional walk, Hunter ended the inning on a ground ball to short.
Krol took over for Sanchez in the seventh, recording the first out of the inning. But he couldn't retire the smoking hot Holt, who yanked a hard ground ball just inside the first base bag. The ball rattled around in the right field corner, allowing Holt to reach third standing up.
Evan Reed entered the game, Castellanos bailing him out against Bogaerts. The rookie third baseman saved a run thanks to his diving stop of Bogaerts' hard hit ground ball, firing to Kelly for the second out of the inning. Holt was forced to stay on the bag.
Reed then walked Pedroia on four pitches, bring David Ortiz to the plate with runners on the corners. Brad Ausmus went back to his bullpen, bring on Phil Coke. Why Coke? He's owned Ortiz over the years, holding him to a .111 average in 18 career at-bats.
The Coke - Ortiz battle started 3-0 in Big Papi's favor. Coke fought back to a full count, then won the battle when Ortiz flew out to deep center, stranding a pair. Coke was booed heavily when entering the game. He left to nothing but rousing cheers.
Lackey still on the mound for the Red Sox, Castellanos led off the bottom half of the seventh with a single. Jackson hit a possible double play grounder to third, but in his haste to make the play, Bogaerts just plain dropped the ball. Everyone was safe on the E-5.
The Red Sox were aggressively playing for a bunt, but Avila ended up working the count full. the Tigers' catcher took a breaking ball that was far too close to the plate, and was punched out looking for the first out.
Sauarez then showed why the Tigers are so high on him, drilling a line drive RBI single to left. Castellanos crossed the plate, the Tigers retaking the lead at 3-2.
Runners on the corners, Davis hit the ball hard, but right at Pedroia. He tagged Suarez, then threw to first to complete the double play. Inning over, but the Tigers were up 3-2.
Ausmus kept Coke in the game for the bottom of the eighth. Napoli absolutely smoked a one-hopper Castellanos had no chance on for a lead off single.
Napoli surprised everyone by stealing second. He was forced to hold there when Pierzynski bounced to Castellanos for the first out of the inning. Nava hit a chopper to short for the second out, Napoli advancing to third.
Playing matchups, John Farrell pinch-hit for Drew with switch-hitter Jonathan Herrera. Coke plunked him with an inside fastball, bringing up Bradley with runners on the corners.
Coke got ahead in the count 1-2, then fell behind 3-2. Coke proceeded to throw a 95 MPH fastball past Bradley to end the inning, strand a pair, and maintain the Tigers one run lead.
The Tigers were unable to increase their lead in the eighth, Lackey retiring the side in order.
Joe Nathan was given the night off after appearing in two consecutive games, including a 32 pitch gut-wrencher on Saturday night. So closer duty fell on the right shoulder of Joba Chamberlain.
But Holt proved unstoppable, his seeing eye, two strike chopper bounced past a diving Suarez for his fourth hit of the evening. That hit also meant, barring a double play, Ortiz would make it to the plate. (Cue DOOM-tastic music)
Bogaerts tried to lay down a bunt, failed, then struck out for the third time by waving at a slider. Chamberlain went to a full count on Pedroia before walking him.
Two on, one out and Chamberlain was doing his best imitation of any Detroit Tigers closer of the past decade.
Chamberlain's scoreless outing streak ended at 12 when Ortiz crushed a breaking ball, sending a no-doubt shot into the right field stands. The three run bomb gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead.
Chamberlain finally got the double play ball he needed, but it came a couple of batters too late. There would be a bottom of the ninth after all, and the Tigers found themselves down two runs as the sellout crowd streamed out of Comerica Park.
There would be no miracles tonight. The Tigers hit a couple of ball hard, but right at Red Sox defenders. Koji Uehara gets the 1-2-3 inning, ending a long night.
Game over. Your final score is Red Sox 5, Tigers 3.
Closers are a surefire way for you to hate everything you just did for the last four hours.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 9, 2014
The Tigers head to Chicago for a short four game road trip to take on the White Sox. In Monday's game one, Rick Porcello takes the mound for Detroit, while right-hander Hector Noesi gets the nod for the White Sox.
Nosi is a true journeyman, the White Sox are the third team he's pitched for this season. The Mariners sold Noesi to the Rangers in Mid-April, only to be released by Texas two weeks later. He was then picked up on waivers by the White Sox, who put the veteran in their rotation. In beating the Dodgers 4-1 in his last start, Noesi allowed one run on five hits over six innings. It was also 27-year-old's first victory since May 6, 2012, snapping a 14 game losing streak covering 40 games, including 19 starts.
Porcello bounced back from a pair of rocky outings (9 R, 17 H, 11 IP) to pitch well in a losing effort against the Blue Jays. The 25-year-old gave up three runs and six hits over seven innings in an 8-2 loss. Porcello's ERA has jumped nearly a point in in those three appearances, from 2.91 to 3.69.
First pitch at The Cell is scheduled for 8:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
One of these things is not like the other...
John Kruk on Al Kaline: "He's the classiest person who's been in this booth tonight!"
Kruk while talking about Cabrera's injury with Justin Verlander: "I never pulled a core muscle: Verlander's replay was a gem: "You can't pull fat!"
In attendance was our own HookSlide, but he was having a bad night.
Miggy's hurt or something. Couldn't tell you any more about it because the assholes in my section were trying to do the wave.— HookSlide (@HookSlideBYB) June 9, 2014
I now know what a David Ortiz home run ball coming straight at me looks like. I may never sleep again.— HookSlide (@HookSlideBYB) June 9, 2014
STREAKS AND STATS:
It took Anibal Sanchez 55 1/3 innings in 2014 before he allowed his first home run of the 2014 season. The last home run Sanchez had given up was to, of all people, Napoli, in Game 5 of the ALCS.
Nick Castellanos' seventh inning single extended his hitting streak to six games.
Austin Jackson's single in the third gives him a four game hitting streak. This after going hitless in 6-of-7 games.
By giving up three runs in the ninth, the Tigers have pitched 50 2/3 innings, and allowed 46 runs. The Tigers have only scored 23 of their own, a run differential of 23.
Joba Chamberlain's scoreless streak ended after 11 2/3 innings covering 12 games.
Tonight was David Ortiz's 16th career game-deciding home run in the ninth inning or later.
Anibal Sanchez: Solid effort for Sanchez (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 2 BB) resulting in another no-decision. Sanchez has allowed three runs over his last three starts covering 21 1/3 innings, all no-decisions due to a complete lack of run support. Worse, the Tigers lost all three games.
Miguel Cabrera: Before he was forced to leave the game with a hamstring issue, Cabrera singled, doubled and scored a run.
Eugenio Suarez: The rookie has made all the plays asked of him at short. But more importantly, Saurez has given the Tigers offense from a position which had none until his arrival. Two RBI singles tonight gives him three runs driven in over his last two games.
Phil Coke: He retired Ortiz to end the seventh, and his eighth was shaky, allowing the game-tying run to reach third base with one out before pitching out of trouble. But Coke ultimately pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and was in line to earn the win.
Joba Chamberlain: He was due for a bad outing, but it happened at the worst possible time. Three hits, three runs, game over.
Alex Avila: There's a fine line between being patient and too patient. Avila crossed it tonight, striking out three times while appearing loathe to swing the bat.
The Red Sox: There's no reason a nine inning baseball game should push the four hour mark ... unless the Red Sox are involved. They are the slowest damn team on the planet. There's not much worse in baseball than a game played at a snail's pace that ends in a loss.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
GAME 58 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Nick Castellanos is raking, owns nine base hits in his last three games. The rookie third baseman walked away with the PotG balloting with 80% of the vote.