The Detroit Tigers snapped a four game losing streak and avoided a series sweep by taking a 5-1 victory over the second place Cleveland Indians. The Tigers end a short home stand as owners of a 5 1/2 game lead in the AL Central and now head west for seven games - three with the Diamondbacks and four with the Angels.
For the victorious Tigers Drew Smyly stepped up as the stopper, coming through with one of the best outings of his young career. The young lefty shut down the Indians over seven full innings, no-hitting the Tribe over the first 4 2/3. Smyly would ultimately allow just one run on four hits, striking out six and walking two.
Smyly's performance allowed manager Brad Ausmus to avoid using his overworked and always vulnerable middle relief. There would be no bullpen shenanigans from Detroit's relievers today, throwing two hitless innings. Joba Chamberlain wasn't as sharp as he was yesterday, but still tossed a scoreless eighth. Pitching the ninth inning in a non-save situation, Joe Nathan bounced back from being booed off the mound in Saturday night's loss to retire the Indians in order.
Tribe starter Mike Tomlin couldn't extend their string of solid starts in this series (20 combined innings from three starters, allowing just six earned runs), pulled after 4 1/3 having given up four runs on six hits, striking out three and walking one. Four Tribe relievers would combine to pitch the final 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits.
Detroit's bats didn't exactly break out, as shown by just nine hits. Austin Jackson led the Tigers out of the lead off slot by reaching base three times, scoring a run and stealing his ninth base. Nick Castellanos added two hits and an RBI. But the big hit was supplied by Torii Hunter, drilling his 13th home run of the season in the fourth. Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez chipped in with RBI singles.
Cleveland could not get their offense untracked against Smyly, as shown by their mere four hits. The only Indian to solve Smyly was catcher Yan Gomes. He had two hits, both for extra bases, supplying all of Cleveland's scoring with his 13th home run of the season.
Drew Smyly: Made just two mistakes, both to Yan Gomes, resulting in a double to break up the no-hit bid and a solo home run. Against the rest of the Tribe, Smyly was lights out, allowing just one run in his seven innings of work.
Torii Hunter: His two out, two run shot in the fourth inning put the Tigers up 4-0 (MLB.com video).
Austin Jackson: Starting to feel back at home in the lead off spot, Jackson reached base three times and scored a run.
Joe Nathan: On a short leash after Saturday's disastrous outing, Brad Ausmus was taking no chances with his closer. Rick Porcello was warming up when Nathan took the mound in a non-save situation. Kid Rick wasn't needed, Nathan bouncing back to retire the side on nine pitches. He's far from being out of the woods, but a non-dramatic ninth was badly needed for the sake of everyone's sanity.
The heart of the order: After a 1-for-20 game in Saturday's nightcap, the two through five batters in the order (Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez) were a little better - 3-for-15 with two RBI. But Detroit still needs better production from the middle of the order.
There were a couple of small lineup changes for the Tigers. Victor Martinez got to see the field, playing first base. Miguel Cabrera took over for Martinez in the DH spot. Andrew Romine got his fourth start of the month, playing in place of a slumping rookie Eugenio Saurez. Saurez is hitting just .225/.311/.275 for the month of July.
If you are worried Dave Dombrowski is not addressing the "bullpen situation," don't. We have Twitter and video proof.
Ausmus: "We need bullpen help." Dombrowski: "We have top men working on it now." Ausmus: "Who?" Dombrowski: "Top. Men."— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 20, 2014
There was a rare Mike Ilitch sighting at Comerica Park this afternoon. Happy 85th birthday to Mr. I!
Nice to see Mr. I is in attendance. (waves back) pic.twitter.com/ALch6FXvHl— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 20, 2014
Miguel Cabrera is still obviously affected by his post season surgery, even if he attempted to backtrack off his All-Star break comments about his health. His first two at-bats were bombs to dead center. A healthy Cabrera has two home runs. A post surgery Cabrera had a pair of long fly outs.
I can only imagine what Cabrera was writing...
FSD catches Miggy scribbling in JD Martinez's hitting log. pic.twitter.com/SGrFruILCM— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 20, 2014
Two grown men were fighting over Torii Hunter's home run ball. The kid with the sippy cup in the left corner showed more composure.
GIMME DAT HOME RUN BALL! pic.twitter.com/dqsWRJ0NIH— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 20, 2014
Ryan Raburn is gonna Ryan Raburn...
Memories light the corners of my mind. Misty water-colored memories of the way we were... pic.twitter.com/qX4gq9IJtu— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 20, 2014
Separated at birth?
Yukon Cornelius is entering the game for Detroit. Bumbles best look out for the high cheese. pic.twitter.com/9f26cfCGq8— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 20, 2014
STREAKS AND STATS:
Ian Kinsler snapped an 0-for-12 skid with a first inning RBI single.
J.D. Martinez's 0-for-11 skein ended with a fourth inning single.
Drew Smyly went 4 2/3 innings before allowing his first hit, a no-doubt double off the bat of Yan Gomes.
Smyly pitched seven full innings, allowing just one run. It was only the second time in his career he accomplished the feat, the last time on May 14 of this season against the Royals. Today was also Smyly's first quality start since he held the Rangers to one run in six innings on June 24.
In the four game series with Cleveland, Austin Jackson was 6-for-14 with three walks and a stolen base out of the lead off spot.
Joba Chamberlain made his 43rd appearance of the season, tossing a scoreless eighth inning. He's allowed just four runs over his last 26 outings. three of those runs coming in one game.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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