A long weekend of baseball came to an end when the Detroit Tigers gave the Minnesota Twins a dose of their own medicine, taking a 13-4 blowout victory. Despite being taken to the woodshed in the first two games against the Twins, the Tigers salvaged a split by winning the final two games.
The Tigers scuffled mightily at times, but the split ensured them of a winning road trip, taking four of the seven games.
Neither starting pitcher was efficient, leaving the game early, which forced both teams to go to their bullpens far earlier than hoped the day after a doubleheader.
Max Scherzer (W, 15-4) left the game holding the lead, but labored through five innings and 112 pitches, giving up three runs on seven hits, striking out four and walking just one. All three runs and five of the seven hits Scherzer allowed all came in the third inning. Regardless of his struggles, it was enough to earn Scherzer his 15th win.
Kyle Gibson (L, 11-10) was unable to get out of the fifth inning for the Twins. Ron Gardenhire pulled his starter after 95 pitches, having allowed five runs on eight hits, striking out five while walking four in 4 2/3 innings.
The Tigers' bullpen had some issues, but still out-performed the Twins' relievers. Minnesota needed four arms to get through the final 4 1/3 innings, rocked as a group by the Tigers' bats by giving up eight runs on ten hits.
To varying degrees of effectiveness, five relievers were needed in relief of Scherzer - Al Alburquerque, Phil Coke, Jim Johnson and Pat McCoy. They scattered five hits, holding the Twins to one run over the final four innings.
Offensively, every starter accounted for least one hit in the Tigers' 18 hit attack. They were led by Victor Martinez's three hits and four RBI, including his 25th home run of the season. Rajai Davis had two hits and two RBI while drilling his seventh home run of the season. Torii Hunter drove in four runs on two hits, one a base clearing triple in the eighth. Eugenio Suarez finished a big series offensively with three hits and a walk, driving in one run and scoring two more.
Miguel Cabrera was left out of the Detroit lineup in order to rest a lingering ankle injury. Post game, manager Brad Ausmus said he would be surprised if his slugging first baseman was not back in the lineup against the New York Yankees this Tuesday.
Thanks to a Kansas City Royals loss, the Tigers gained ground in the AL Central, pulling within two games of first place. In the wild card race, a Seattle Mariners victory keeps the Tigers at bay by one game in the standings.
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Victor Martinez: The veteran DH hit everything hard, Martinez ending his day with three hits, four RBI, a run scored, and his 25th home run of the season (MLB.com video). Martinez is now hitting .328/.396/.553 this season and will need to arrange for a Brinks truck to handle the paycheck he's going to earn next season.
Rajai Davis: Davis gave the Tigers' bullpen breathing room by belting his seventh home run of the season in the seventh (MLB.com video), extending the Tigers' lead to 9-3. Davis ended his days full of twos - two hits, two RBI, and two runs scored.
Ian Kinsler: Batting in the two slot, Kinsler capped off a nice weekend at the plate with two hits, three runs scored and an RBI. In the series, Kinser was 6-for-17, scoring six runs and driving in three.
Eugenio Suarez: Three hits, reached base four times, scoring twice and driving in a run.
Torii Hunter: Two hits, four RBI and a nice running catch to end the first inning. Hunter's eighth inning, bases clearing triple (MLB.com video) would account for the final score of 13-4.
Phil Coke in the sixth: Recorded an inning-ending, bases loaded strike out of Joe Mauer in the sixth, maintaining the Tigers' four run advantage. At the time, it felt as if the game was in the balance.
Jim Johnson: After Phil Coke found himself in a seventh inning jam, putting two runners in scoring position, Johnson was brought in to clean up the mess. He did just that, getting the final two outs on a ground ball and a pop up. An inherited run did score on the ground ball, but it was a nice outing for the struggling reliever. Johnson would end up tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
A day off: There was a ridiculous amount of baseball played by the Tigers this week, finishing it off with four games in three days.
From first pitch Friday to final pitch today will be about 47 hours. That includes 44 1/2 hours of actual baseball.— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) August 24, 2014
And we get to do the same exact thing this coming week, a second Saturday twin-bill is on tap next weekend in Chicago. Monday's off day is badly needed.
Max Scherzer: Yes, Scherzer did last long enough to get credit for the win. But an already stressed bullpen was stressed further thanks to Scherzer's inefficient outing. Detroit really needed their ace to go deeper than five innings, but he was done after throwing 112 pitches.
Al Alburquerque: Replaced Scherzer, but couldn't get out of the sixth. Alburquerque recorded two outs, only to be yanked after loading the bases and the Tigers holding a four run lead.
Phil Coke in the seventh: After an excellent sixth, Coke pitched himself into a two on, one out jam in the seventh, requiring Johnson to clean it up.
Buck Farmer was the 26th man on the roster Saturday, called up to make a spot start in game one of the doubleheader. After game two, Farmer was optioned back to Triple-A Toledo.
A visibly limping Miguel Cabrera was pulled late in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader having aggravated a nagging injury in right ankle earlier in the day. That ankle injury kept Cabrera out of the starting lineup for today's series finale. It's hoped two days of rest (the Tigers are off Monday) will help the issue. In his absence, Torii Hunter was shifted to third in the batting order, while Don Kelly got the start at first base, batting ninth.
There may be more to the Cabrera ankle injury than at first blush.
Cabrera right ankle is non-issue becoming one - not playing today, mgr saying it's possible reason why power is down (3 HR's since 7/1)— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) August 24, 2014
Early on, Omar Vizquel put on a show in the Tigers' dugout.
Omar Vizquel giving instructions in the dugout. pic.twitter.com/XpggNWmkj0— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 24, 2014
I have no idea what Brad Ausmus is thinking when it comes to the running game, as it constantly takes the Tigers out possible big innings. One out in the second, he had J.D. Martinez running on a 3-1 pitch to Nick Castellanos. If it was a hit and run, Castellanos missed the sign, as he took the pitch. If it was a straight steal, it was just a dumb call. Either way, it didn't work. Martinez was nailed by Kurt Suzuki for the second out of the inning. Of course, Castellanos would walk on the next pitch. The inning would run out of gas when Alex Avila struck out.
The Tigers took first blood, plating three runs in the top of the third. Given a three run lead, Max Scherzer coughed it right back up in the bottom half of the frame by giving up three runs on five hits, needing 42 pitches to get out further trouble.
While Max Scherzer was giving up 3 runs, the Hank Scorpio episode was running during The Simpsons marathon. I made the wrong choice of TV.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 24, 2014
A pitch count of 71 through three ensured Scherzer wouldn't pitch deep into the game. As it turned out, five frames was Max's max.
The situation - top of five, Ian Kinsler on second, Torii Hunter on first, Victor Martinez at the plate. Martinez smokes a liner off the left field wall, missing a home run by a foot. The result was Kinsler scoring and Hunter stopping at second, holding Martinez to a long RBI single. It was impossible to tell if Hunter was tagging, but it's the only explanation. Kyle Gibson went on to correct the base running gaffe with a wild pitch, but it was still an awful piece of base running by Hunter. It was a TOOTBLAN, minus "thrown out on the bases." But "Nincompoop" fits the bill. The Tigers would go on to load the bases twice in the fifth inning, ultimately scoring two runs to extend their lead to 5-3.
When you go yard, you don't have to worry about what the runner does in front of you. Martinez took a TOOTBLAN out of play by drilling a two run home run in the sixth, increasing Detroit's lead to 7-3.
It took Phil Coke to clean up Al Alburquerque's mess in the sixth. Alburquerque took over for Max Scherzer, ultimately loading the bases on a hit by pitch, a walk and a single. Two down and Joe Mauer due to the plate, Ausmus went to Coke. In the Coke vs. Mauer battle, Coke came out victorious. The Twins runners on the move, Mauer swung through a full count fastball, striking out and stranding three.
The defensive play by Twins' right fielder Oswaldo Arcia in the eighth can be summed up with two tweets.
Don Kelly not stopped, thanks to Oswaldo Arcia playing so deep in RF, he may just as well have been in Jessie Ventura's front yard.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 24, 2014
Arcia is the BEST RIGHT FIELDER EVER! His ill-advised dive gives Torii Hunter a gift triple and 3 RBI.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 24, 2014
Putting a surreal finish on a surreal weekend, Pat McCoy got to pitch in a driving, ninth inning rainstorm. To his credit, he didn't allow a run ... possibly because the Twins couldn't see the damn ball.
Holy cats! pic.twitter.com/skTLHbQnNJ— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) August 24, 2014
STREAKS AND STATS:
Eugenio Suarez entered the series in Minnesota hitting .174/.224/.283 in 15 August games. After a reduction in playing time, the rookie got the start in the first three games of the series. His bat woke up, coming through with five hits. Suarez kept hitting in the series finale, extending his mini-streak to three games by singling to start a three run uprising in the third. Saurez ended his day with three singles, wrapping up the series 8-for-14.
Victor Martinez's home run in the sixth was his 25th of the season, tying a career high he set with with the Indians in 2007.
No matter who was on the mound, the Tigers could not stop the Twins' Kennys Vargas, Jordan Schafer or Danny Santana in the four game series. Vargas was 8-for-18, four of the hits for extra bases, adding six RBI. Schafer was 6-for-13, driving in four runs. Santana raked in all four games, going 9-for-19, including three extra base hits and six RBI.
The Tigers had 60 hits against the Twins, tying a four game franchise record. It's the most hits they've had since they had 60 in four games against the White Sox in 1956. Unfortunately, the Tigers could only muster a split against the Twins.
The Twins were no slouches in the hit department, either - 57 to the Tigers' 60.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|5||Nonsuch Ned||HI, I'm Target Field, and this is the Ice Bucket Challenge.|
|2||knucklescarbone||Victor could hit a dinger here and it would not upset me.|
|2||subic sailor||Mad Max vs Gibson today|