Justin Verlander avoided the disabled list by missing one start, but he also avoided allowing a multitude of runs Saturday night. Keeping the scoreboard from lighting up like a pinball machine has been an issue for the Tigers in the series, but Verlander kept damage to a relative minimum. The Tigers won 8–6 on a combination of decent pitching, a behaved bullpen, and key hits by the Tigers offense.
As he pitched deeper into the game, Verlander's velocity began to drop but he remained in the game long enough to give the Tigers 5 2/3 innings of solid four-run ball, relatively speaking. All things considered, with Verlander coming off a missed start and shoulder inflammation, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand weren't going to take any chances.
With two on and two outs in the sixth, Ausmus motioned for the bullpen before reaching the mound, not allowing Verlander the chance to argue Ausmus' decision to pull him from the game. Verlander may not have been entirely pleased with the decision, but it was the best decision as Blaine Hardy got out of the inning on a three-pitch flyout.
Hardy pitched the next inning with one hit and an RBI allowed, but overall he did a good job considering the overall events of the last two games. Chamberlain gave a 1-2-3 performance reminiscent of his old self and despite a shaky outing and a run allowed, Nathan closed the game to end a three-game losing streak.
Lost in the drudge of the last couple of days, the Tigers have been hitting well. While it doesn't seem like it, the Tigers scored 10 runs on 25 hits over two days but it's hard to see that midst the muck of a lopsided scoreboard. Saturday night the hits and runs stood out with more prominence and the Tigers were able to knock the Twins around for 17 hits.
More importantly, they did it despite two outs on several occasions and were able to keep the chain moving when it was needed the most. Aggressive at-bats and base-running may have been risky, but coming off two grim losses the risks were necessary. The Tigers were able to force starter Trevor May out of the game after 5 1/3 innings and 99 pitches, tagging him for five of the eight runs.
The only batter in the starting lineup without a hit was Rajai Davis, who finished 0–4. The Tigers tacked on two more runs against reliever Jared Burton and the final nail went to Samuel Deduno as Casey Fien was the only Twins reliever to escape an outing unscathed.
The Tigers were able to split the doubleheader with the win Saturday night, and look to split the series against the Twins on Sunday as Max Scherzer takes the mound. With the win, the Tigers were able to avoid falling further in the AL Central; they remain three games behind the Royals.
Torii Hunter: A highly risky and suspect move under any circumstances (normal or otherwise), but Hunter took the chance anyway and tried for third base from first on a single by Victor Martinez in the third inning. Originally called out on the tag, the Tigers challenged the call. The call was overturned and Hunter was safe at third base, which allowed him to go home on the RBI single by J.D. Martinez. Hunter later got two more singles in the fifth and seventh innings, and was hit by a pitch in the eighth.
Eugenio Suarez: With one out and runners on second and third base, Suarez smoked a two-run line drive single to center field in the sixth inning. He advanced to second base on a throwing error by the center fielder, Danny Santana and the Tigers had a 5–4 lead over the Twins. Suarez later hit a leadoff single in the eighth inning.
Victor Martinez/J.D. Martinez: Victor Martinez started out his night with back-to-back singles. While neither hit drove in a run, V. Martinez came around to score in the second inning. In the seventh inning V. Martinez started a two-run inning with two outs by lacing a single to right field. J.D. Martinez began with a single in the second inning and repeated in the third inning with an RBI single, which put the Tigers ahead 2–1 at the time. He also doubled in the seventh with two outs.
Nick Castellanos: Castellanos came around to score on a one-out single in the sixth and followed it up with a two-run RBI single in the seventh. Castellanos struck out once but the seventh-inning single gave the Tigers a 7–4 lead to work with.
A win: Three losses may be just that, but for goodness sake's was this win needed. Not only for the Tigers, but for fans as well. It's been a long few days and it was good to see the Tigers fighting back and coming away with something to show for it. It was good not only for team moral, but to lift the fans, especially after dropping a 1–0 loss on a gem performance by David Price on Thursday.
Miguel Cabrera: A 1–5 night, which included grounding into two double plays. The first double play scored Kinsler from third base but Cabrera was not given an RBI and it erased the chance for the Tigers to retake the lead in the fifth inning. Cabrera grounded into another double play in the seventh inning, which had additional scoring consequences. He did redeem himself somewhat in the eighth, however, by sneaking a ground ball up the middle for an RBI single to give the Tigers an 8–5 lead.
Rajai Davis: Davis was a yawn-worthy 0–4 and while he did not strike out in any of his at-bats, Davis' performance did not help the Tigers in any way.
In the third inning Hunter was tagged out at third base while attempting to advance from first to third. The Tigers immediately challenged the call and upon review it was determined that Hunter had reached third base in time. The call was overturned, Hunter remained at third base and soon after scored off the bat of J.D. Martinez.
Miguel Cabrera was removed from the game in the eighth inning when he was hobbling around after hitting an RBI single. Andrew Romine pinch-ran for Cabrera and remained in the game as the designated hitter. Ausmus said there's the possibility he would give Cabrera the day off on Sunday, which would give him two days off with an off-day coming up on Monday.
"We'll see how (Cabrera) feels tomorrow," Ausmus said. "May be possible to give him two days in a row with the off-day on Monday. Obviously prefer to have Miggy in the lineup, but his health is more important."
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Miguel Cabrera grounded into his 17th double play of the season in the fifth inning, which in this instance erased the chance for the Tigers to tack on much-needed runs. Cabrera later grounded into his 18th in the seventh after Hunter had reached with a solid single, erasing another chance for a rally. If Cabrera had reached, the at-bat by Victor Martinez, which resulted in a single, would have at the very least loaded the bases or scored a run at the time. The double play loomed large as the Tigers went on to drive in two runs and could have driven in more as was evident by the eighth inning, had Cabrera not grounded into the double play. Cabrera was also hobbling a bit after the at-bat on his way back to the dugout and soon after was pulled from the game.
- Cabrera grounded into two double plays for just the second time this season. The last time he did that was when he also hit his last home run, on August 2.
- Justin Verlander did not get a quality start, as he gave up four runs on eight hits while walking three in 5 2/3 innings, but he gave the Tigers their first decent outing in the series by lasting more than two innings and let the bullpen rest for a while. He also struck out six and did not give up a home run.
- Cabrera got his 88th RBI of the season, a single in the eighth.
- The Royals won 6–3 against the Rangers, which allowed them to maintain their three-game lead over the Tigers.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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