DETROIT — Austin Jackson was welcomed back to Detroit with open arms by the fans. However, that seemed to bleed into Rick Porcello's performance as he and the Tigers defense sent out an open invitation for the Mariners to score. Combined with a quiet night offensively, the Tigers lost 7-2 as a result of mistakes on the field and only six scattered hits.
Porcello was unable to shake off the 19-inning game blues from his relief appearance on July 10 against the Blue Jays, allowing six runs (five earned) on 10 hits and a home run to the Mariners. His troubles began two batters in with a single by Dustin Ackley and they only got worse. Four of the next five innings started out with a hit, one which resulted in a home run by Robinson Cano (11). The other was a double to Logan Morrison, who came around to score off the bat of Chris Taylor.
A rough start produced only three strikeouts but Porcello stayed in the game for six innings, long enough for Tigers manager Brad Ausmus to avoid having to go to his bullpen too early. Porcello may not have been sharp as he finished with just one 1-2-3 inning, and the Tigers defense certainly didn't help things that much, but he did not walk a batter.
"I think Ricky (Porcello) had a little trouble getting the ball down today, ball was a little up in the zone," Ausmus said.
As a result of Porcello's ability to remain on the mound despite a rough game, Melvin Mercedes made his major league debut for the Tigers in the seventh inning, rather than the sixth. He became the 11th to make his major league debut for the Tigers this season, and he handled both innings of relief with ease. Back-to-back strikeouts in the eighth inning concluded a solid first outing for Mercedes and he did not allow one hit or a walk.
"He threw well, kept the ball down, did a good job in his major league debut," Ausmus said. "There's really the one bright spot, how Melvin (Mercedes) threw the ball. He got outs for us, didn't seem nervous, seemed very comfortable so there's definitely the bright spot today."
The Tigers didn't help themselves out all that much, leaving just six hits on the board with only one run to show for it and two that scored overall (the other on a groundout). Most of the contact the Tigers made with the ball failed to leave the infield, and Miguel Cabrera was the only Tiger with multiple hits, both of his being doubles. Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler were the only two with an RBI each, and the only other hits were off the bats of J.D. Martinez and Eugenio Suarez.
With the exception of the last two games where the Tigers strung together multiple runs, the offense has been quiet. Their inconsistent hitting has been an issue, however, Ausmus said it hasn't been the result of any one player. Key hits been a rarity for the entire team.
"You have hot streaks and cold streaks, you have slumps and you have periods where you can't seem to do anything wrong," Ausmus said. "Just as a group we haven't scored a bunch of runs lately, have trouble scoring runs. We can't string hits together so I'm not going to single out one particular player and say that's the reason we're struggling."
The loss not only takes the Tigers out of contention for the second wildcard at the moment, but places them 1 1/2 games behind the Kansas City Royals, who won 6-5 against the Minnesota Twins. In addition, the Cleveland Indians inched closer to the lead with a win over the Baltimore Orioles to place them within 5 1/2 games of first place.
Rajai Davis: An otherwise docile night, with one exception. Davis smacked a one-out triple in the third inning to the right field corner. Ian Kinsler's groundout drove in Davis for the Tigers' first run of the evening, making it 4-1 in favor of the Mariners at the time.
Miguel Cabrera: After a long drought of a complete absence of extra-base hits, Cabrera was much more Miggy-like. Thursday marked his first double since July 19 and Friday Cabrera hit back-to-back doubles to start his night at the plate.
Melvin Mercedes: He made his major league debut in the seventh inning and pitched two clean innings with two strikeouts in the eighth.
Victor Martinez: The Mariners gave a two-out walk to Cabrera and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. Martinez took a page from the Mariners' playbook, hitting an RBI single up the middle to make it a 6-2 deficit.
Tigers defense: The defense was sloppy all around and the Tigers paid for it. The Mariners jumped to an early 4-0 lead before the Tigers had even got on the board, unable to recover.
First base: First base was a dangerous place to be Friday night. Cabrera jammed his thumb tagging out Jackson at first in the first, Kinsler's guidance system needed some re-alignment and V. Martinez played football, colliding with Morrison at first base. Despite unnecessary roughness, Morrison managed to hold onto the ball for the out.
Tigers bottom five in the offense: Were a combined 2-17 with four strikeouts and one walk for the night. Neither of the two hits by J.D. Martinez and Eugenio Suarez plated a run, and neither scored. Nick Castellanos and Bryan Holaday both finished 0-4 with a strikeout each and Hunter was 0-3 with a walk and a strikeout.
Mariners defense: Despite a couple of Cabrera doubles and a triple by Davis, the Tigers hit just about everything straight into the outstretched (and sometimes stationary) gloves of the Mariners defense. The Tigers could have lived without the ill-timed hits as well.
Ian Krol: He came on in the ninth inning with the Tigers trailing by four runs. Endy Chavez tripled with one out and that hit came around to score on a 1-3-6 play when Chris Taylor, who had walked, was caught trying to steal second base. Krol finished having allowed an earned run, a hit, and a walk, striking out Jackson to end the ninth with the Tigers trailing 7-2.
Austin Jackson's return to Detroit was well received, as it should have been. Tigers fans gave Jackson a standing ovation twice, once when he was initially announced for the Mariners starting rotation, and the second when he was announced for his leadoff at-bat. Jackson tipped his batting helmet in appreciation and on his second trip to the plate received another chorus of cheers from the crowd.
Miguel Cabrera had to be checked on briefly by Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand in the first inning after applying a tag to Austin Jackson for the out. Cabrera's thumb slipped out of his glove while applying the tag, which caused his thumb to bend back. Cabrera remained in the game and went on to hit two doubles.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Rick Porcello had gone at least seven innings in each of his last five starts. He lasted six Friday night and gave up six runs (five earned) on 10 hits, striking out three to take the loss. The last time Porcello failed to record his first quality start was back on July 6 when he gave up seven runs on 11 hits, recording just two strikeouts.
- Miguel Cabrera finished 2-3 with two doubles, a run, a walk, and an RBI. He was the only Tigers player to record multiple hits, and the only one with an extra-base hit.
- Cabrera has recorded two-or-more extra-base hits in nine games this season, which ties him for fifth in the American League.
- Bryan Holaday has been hitless in six of his last 10 games with only two RBI, both of which occurred on July 29 against the Chicago White Sox. Holaday has walked twice and struck out nine times in 32 at-bats.
- The Tigers lost possession of the second wildcard spot with the loss Friday night.
- Melvin Mercedes made his major league debut in the seventh inning, pitching two shutout innings where he struck out two (both in the eighth), one swinging and one looking. Mercedes became the 11th player to make his major league debut with the Tigers this season.
- Friday night's attendance of 42,385 is the 20th sellout crowd of the season, and the fifth consecutive sellout for the Tigers.
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