It was nearly a successful solid outing for Justin Verlander, but a brutal seventh inning erased what should have been a quality start and the Tigers lost 5-2 in the final game before the All-Star break. The bullpen offered little help in the way of quelling a team trying to avoid a sweep and the Tigers offense was largely quiet with two exceptions.
Verlander was dominant through six innings, shutting out the Royals and giving up just two hits. Going into the seventh inning Verlander was at 83 pitches and he only threw 14 pitches in the seventh inning, but those pitches resulted in four consecutive singles and an RBI groundout that brought the score to a tie. Verlander was responsible for the remaining two on base as he departed and a once strong outing fizzled into a loss.
The Tigers offense had nine hits to the Royals' 10, but they also struck out seven times. They went down in order three times and twice the Tigers had hits that were immediately erased on double plays. The only time when they produced any offensive threat were the second and third innings and the third was the only inning in which both runs scored. Otherwise, things were quiet.
Although Sunday was a loss, the Tigers go into the All-Star break with a 6 1/2 game divisional lead, which is the largest lead in MLB and the largest since 1984 when the team led by seven games at the break. The team has won 17 of their last 23 games and they finished with a 6-4 record in their last 10 games. The Tigers took 3-4 games in the series against the Royals and are 53-38 at the break with a .582 winning percentage, which is the third best record in the majors. Only the L.A. Angels and the Oakland A's retain better records.
J.D. Martinez: To put it simply, Martinez on fire. Sunday he started in right field and contributed both at the plate and on the field. Offensively, Martinez was 3-3 (all singles) while defensively he ran down a scorched ball to the right field corner in the fifth inning that would have been a double and Martinez made it look easy. Martinez gave an encore performance in the sixth.
Torii would have tried to deke that.— Neil Weinberg (@NeilWeinberg44) July 13, 2014
Torii Hunter is never playing a game in RF for Detroit again. /exaggerating— Neil Weinberg (@NeilWeinberg44) July 13, 2014
Royals defense: Communication miscues between the Royals shortstop and left fielder resulted in a bloop RBI single and made the score 2-0 for the Tigers.
Rajai Davis: Davis finished 3-3 for the day, all singles. Despite giving everyone a minor scare in the second inning when he looked as if he were in pain after beating out a throw to first base for a hit, Davis remained in the game to have quite a day at the plate.
First six innings Justin Verlander: Held the Royals scoreless through six innings, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out three and pitching three 1-2-3 innings.
Seventh-inning Verlander/Bullpen: Bad luck followed him in the seventh as he gave up four consecutive hits to allow two runs. Verlander departed having given up two runs and two-on for the bullpen to deal with. Krol intentionally walked Salvador Perez and got Nori Aoki to pop out for the second out before Ausmus called for Al Alburquerque. That lasted just one batter as Alburquerque surrendered a two-run RBI single to former Tiger Omar Infante and the runs were given to Verlander. Phil Coke came out in place of Alburquerque and gave up a ground-rule RBI double to Eric Hosmer that was handed to Krol before getting Mike Moustakas to ground out to end a 11-batter inning. After the Tigers led for six innings, they ended the seventh trailing 5-2.
Miguel Cabrera: He hasn't been himself lately and he knows it. Following a sacrifice fly that put the Tigers on the board, he returned to the dugout and looked at the camera, shaking his head in acknowledgement of his lack of Miggy-like power. Cabrera acknowledged recently he's had issues with his swing although he won't say what the cause is. Cabrera finished a quiet 0-3 with the sacrifice fly on Sunday.
Ian Kinsler: Had an 0-4 performance reminiscent of a flat beverage and his three popouts had more fizzle in them than the drink.
6-7-8: Nick Castellanos, Alex Avila, and Eugenio Suarez were a combined 1-10 for the day with six strikeouts. Castellanos got all tied up at the plate, striking out three times (twice swinging) while Avila struck out twice and Suarez swung away once.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Miguel Cabrera drove in the Tigers' first run with an near-homer sacrifice fly in the third inning. Cabrera's sacrifice fly was the team's 42nd this season, which increases their MLB lead with the Colorado Rockies in second place with 33.
- Miguel Cabrera's sacrifice fly was his 75th RBI of the season, which gave Cabrera sole possession of the MLB RBI lead by one at the All-Star break. Orioles' Nelson Cruz is now second with 74 RBI.
- Since July 1, J.D. Martinez is hitting for a .448 average with three doubles, a triple, four home runs, 11 RBI, two walks, and a sacrifice fly. Martinez finished 3-3 and now has back-to-back three-hit games for the second time in his career and the first time since August 21-22, 2011. Martinez's 1.040 OPS this season is the highest in the American League for players with at least 200 plate appearances.
- Since July 1 where Austin Jackson has bat leadoff in all but one game on July 6, Jackson is hitting .340 with five doubles, a triple, two RBI, two walks and a sacrifice fly. In the series against the Royals, Jackson hit .471 with a leadoff hit in every game, including a double in game two of the series and he recorded back-to-back hits in three of the four games.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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