The Detroit Tigers took a 7-0 lead, nearly lost it, then pulled away by plating four eighth innings runs after two were out, taking the rubber game of their series with the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-5. The getaway day victory in Arizona extends Detroit's lead in the AL Central to 6 1/2 games over the Cleveland Indians.
Anibal Sanchez managed to hang on and get the win, raising his record to 7-4. But Sanchez lost effectiveness over his final four innings, giving up all five Arizona runs, and was ultimately pulled after 6 1/3 innings. Sanchez allowed five runs on 11 hits, the most hits he's given up in a game this season.
The Tigers' bullpen was up to the task, most of the credit going to Joba Chamberlain. Entering the game earlier than normal in the seventh, Chamberlain extinguished a Diamondbacks rally by inducing Paul Goldschmidt to ground into an inning-ending double play. Blaine Hardy saved the back-end of the bullpen (specifically Chamberlain) by striking out three and not allowing a run over the final two innings.
Tigers manager Brad Asumus tried to get as many left-handed bats in the lineup against Arizona starter Trevor Cahill. The move paid off when the Tigers got to Cahill early and often, knocking him out of the game after four innings, scoring seven runs (three earned) on eight hits. Cahill would take the loss, falling to 1-7 on the season.
The D-backs' bullpen kept them in the game until the eighth. Arizona having cut Detroit's lead to two runs, Matt Stites took over for Eury De La Rosa in the eighth. He was rocked for four runs on four hits in his inning of work, allowing the Tigers to put the game away.
Detroit had 13 hits against four Diamondbacks pitchers, Alex Avila doing damage early on by driving in the Tigers' first three runs with a double and sacrifice fly. At that point the top of the order would do the heavy lifting. Lead off man Austin Jackson remains smoking hot with two hits and three RBI. Rajai Davis was moved up the the second spot, adding three hits and an RBI. Ian Kinsler hit an unaccustomed third, adding an eighth inning RBI single. Moved to the clean up spot, Miguel Cabrera had a huge game with two hits, a home run (number 15 on the season) and three RBI. Cabrera leads all of baseball with 80 RBI.
The Diamondbacks couldn't equal the Tigers' run count, but did have 13 hits against three Detroit pitchers. Didi Gregorius had two hits, a home run (his third) and two RBI. Gerardo Parra added three hits and an RBI. Martin Prado chipped in with a pair of hits, also driving in a run.
The Tigers now head to the Southern California for the remainder of their west coast swing, taking on the Angels for four games. It'll be the team with the third best record in the AL (Detroit is now 56-42, .571) facing the team with the second best in LA (59-40, .596).
Alex Avila: Got the Tigers' offense going early by driving in the game's first three runs with a double and sacrifice fly.
Don Kelly: They can't stop Don Kelly. Donnie Baseball reached base three times on a pair of singles and a walk, scoring two runs.
Rajai Davis: Moved up to second in the order, Davis came through with three hits, a run scored and an RBI.
Austin Jackson: Another big game out of the lead off spot with two hits, three RBI and two runs scored. Jackson played a big part in both the Tigers' rallies - a three run double in the Tigers' five run fourth and a two out double in the eighth, kick starting a four run uprising.
Joba Chamberlain: Pitched in the seventh inning, as Chamberlain was needed in order to clean up Anibal Sanchez's mess. Paul Goldschmidt at the plate, runners on the corners, one out and holding a two run lead, Chamberlain induced a first pitch double play ball, ending the threat.
Miguel Cabrera: Two hits, a home run and three RBI. Cabrera's three run bomb could not have come at a more opportune time, giving the Tigers' bullpen some badly needed breathing room. The big fly also allowed Chamberlain to take the rest of the game off, saving him for the upcoming Angels series.
Blaine Hardy: Regained some of the bullpen's lost honor by closing out the game with two scoreless innings.
Anibal Sanchez: Sanchez may have earned the win, but it was far from one of his better outings. Sanchez gradually allowed the Diamondbacks back in the game, cutting a seven run lead to just two. Not helping was the lead off man reaching base in each of Sanchez's final four innings, leading to five unanswered runs. Sanchez was pulled in the seventh with the tying runs on base, only to be bailed out by Joba Chamberlain.
Brad Ausmus' batting order looked odd at first blush. Don Kelly and Andrew Romine got starts, hitting sixth and eighth. Despite playing in last night's game, Alex Avila remained in the lineup for today's afternoon start and hit seventh. There was a method to the madness. Lefties have hit .350/.436/.550 against D-Backs starter this season. So Ausmus tried to get as many left-handed bats in the lineup as possible, even if they weren't exactly known for their offense. The moves paid off early on when hits from Kelly and Avila played a big part in the Tigers taking an early lead. But not every move worked. Romine did play solid defense, but was 0-for-5 at the plate.
Ausmus won another challenge in the fourth inning. Instead of two outs and runners on second and third, it loaded the bases with one out. The challenge extended the inning and paid off in a big way when Austin Jackson doubled with two out, clearing the bases.
More pinch hitting controversy, this time swirling around Alex Avila in the seventh inning. Left-handed Eury De La Rosa was on the mound with two out and the bases loaded, and Avila due to hit. The Tigers' catcher entered the game hitting .217/.270/.304 versus lefties, so you could hear the cries for a pinch-hitter long and loud. Nick Castellanos, J.D. Martinez and Torii Hunter were all available, but Ausmus elected to have Avila bat. He would strike out looking, ending the threat.
Another point of contention was Ausmus didn't go with the double switch when bringing Joba Chamberlain into the game during the seventh. When it appeared he would need to pitch the eighth, Chamberlain was forced to grab a bat, striking out. The Tigers would go on to rally for four runs, making the move moot.
STREAKS AND STATS:
The Tigers drew first blood again today with two runs in the second inning. It's the fifth straigjht game the Tigers have scored first.
Alex Avila's two-run double in the second inning was the 100th two-bagger of his career.
After winning a fourth inning challenge, the Tigers have been successful on 15 of 24 reviews this season.
Austin Jackson remains red hot. His three run double in the third extended his streak of reaching base safely to 15 games. His eighth inning double gives him six consecutive multi-hit games and 9-of-10.
Anibal Sanchez's month long funk continued, giving up all five Diamondbacks runs in 6 1/3 innings of work. The rough outing raised Sanchez's July ERA to 6.12 - 17 earned runs in 25 innings over four starts.
Joba Chamberlain needed just one pitch to record his AL leading 21st hold of the season. In his last 16 outings, Chamberlain has a 0.64 ERA, allowing just one run in 14 innings.
Miguel Cabrera's eighth inning home run gives him 380 for his career Cabrera passes Hall-of-Famers Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez, and is now 66th on the all-time home run list.
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