The Tigers lost 2-of-3 to the Minnesota spoilers, while the Kansas City Royals were winning 2-of-3 over the Chicago White Sox. Detroit heads into Kansas City with their lead in the AL Central cut to 1/2 game. The loser of the Central currently holds the second wild, if the playoffs began tomorrow. The Seattle Mariners stand 1 1/2 games back of the the Royals, who are just 1/2 game back of the top wild card, the scuffling Oakland Athletics.
Twins' starter Kyle Gibson (W, 12-11) did not look long for the game, giving up four runs in the first two innings. But he held the Tigers scoreless over his final four innings, exiting after six having allowed the four runs on seven hits. The Twins' bullpen did give the Tigers a few scoring opportunities, but they couldn't capitalize. Four Minnesota relievers were needed over the final three innings, keeping Detroit off the scoreboard.
In need of David Price (L, 14-12) pitching like an ace, he instead led the way in disappointing performances, knocked out of the game in the sixth having allowed five runs on eight hits, walking a season high tying three and striking out five.
Detroit's bullpen wasn't any better than Price, four relievers combining to give up three runs on five hits in just 2 1/3 innings.
The top of the Twins' order did a huge amount of damage against Tigers' pitching. Rookie lead off man Danny Santana wrapped up a huge series, ending the three games 8-for-14 thanks to a three hit, two RBI, three run scored night. Number two hitter Brian Dozier added two hits and two RBI. Batting the third spot, Joe Mauer continued his Tiger Killing ways, driving in two runs on two hits.
Miguel Cabrera was all but unstoppable for the Tigers, coming through with four of Detroit's 11 hits, driving in a run. Torii Hunter, J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos each drove in a run for the losers, who were held scoreless over the final seven innings.
There's only 10 games remaining in the season. Let's hope Detroit got rid what bad baseball was left in their system in Minnesota. The Tigers will be taking on a desperate Royals team knowing their season is on the line this weekend. If the Tigers play the Royals as they did the Twins over the past two nights, they'll leave Kansas City in second place.
Miguel Cabrera: Tried to win the game damn near single-handedly; 4-for-5, an RBI and a run scored. Cabrera has put the offense on his shoulders, hitting .469 in September.
Victor Martinez: The Twins refused to pitch to him, issuing a pair of walks. Martinez did reach base three times, scored a run and should have had an RBI, if not for Torii Hunter's brain-fart on the bases.
J.D. Martinez: Added to his own excellent September numbers (1.192 OPS) with two hits and an RBI.
Tyler Collins: The rookie was asked to pinch-hit (what a concept), coming through with a single.
David Price: On a night the Tigers needed Price to be ace-like, he was anything but. Price channeled his inner 2014 Justin Verlander, needing an inefficient 112 pitches to get through just 5 2/3 innings. Price was one out away from exiting the game with a lead, but he served up a two-out RBI double to Danny Santana, the last batter he faced. This isn't the sort of pennant race performance the Tigers expected they would get from a former Cy Young winner when they made the headline-making trade deadline deal.
When asked about Price, Ausmus could only say "the innings are piling up;"
#Tigers' "Three Cy Young" rotation core of Scherzer, Verlander, Price in September: 10 GS, 4.24 ERA, .277 BAA, 1.368 WHIP— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) September 18, 2014
The bullpen: Not a good night for the relievers. Al Alburquerque faced one batter in the sixth, giving up booming RBI triple to Brian Dozier. Kyle Ryan faced two batters, allowing an inherited runner to score before getting out of the sixth. Jim Johnson gave up two runs in his 1 2/3 innings of work. Phil Coke also allowed an inherited runner to score in his 1/3 inning.
Torii Hunter: Hunter has continually shown a lack of fundamentals this season (or at 39, he's just plain forgotten them) Tonight was no different. The goodwill of a two hit, one RBI night went right out the window thanks to his galling base running gaffe in the seventh. Instead of two out and the Tigers down a run, Hunter's brain lock led to a inning-ending double play and the Tigers still down two runs. It was a cringe inducing play (MLB.com video).
During post game interviews, there were claims of miscommunication somewhere along the line. Ausmus said Hunter was supposed to go on contact if the ball was hit to anyplace but first base, as long Mauer was playing in. Ausmus said Hunter didn't see Mauer move back, resulting in the mess we saw. When asked, Hunter said he wasn't supposed to go on contact "if the ball was hit hard."
James McCann: Had a very rough eighth inning after replacing Bryan Holaday behind the plate. The Twins took advantage of the rookie by stealing two bases, McCann also allowing a runner to advance on a third strike.
Brad Ausmus: More second guessing of the rookie manager's moves. He elected to use a rookie (Ryan) against veteran Joe Mauer in the seventh, unsurprisingly serving up an RBI single. After refusing to use rookies in pinch-hinting situations, Ausmus pulled a 180 tonight, actually using Tyler Collins. He pulled Steven Moya back as a pinch-hitter, deciding to use struggling Eugenio Saurez in the eighth (hitting just .238/.326/.338 against lefties) while leaving James McCann on the bench. The same McCann who has a reputation for hitting left-handed pitching very well (.336/.397/.472 at Toledo). Ausmus proceeded to put McCann behind the plate in the bottom of the eighth anyway, having pulled Holaday for a pinch-hitter earlier. He then pushed his luck by using Jim Johnson for two innings, ending with predictable results. Two runs scored in Johnson's second inning of work.
And once again, there was no sign of Joakim Soria.
Coke gives up the RBI hit. Soria stirs momentarily, jolted awake from his nap in the bullpen. He checks his watch, goes back to sleep.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) September 18, 2014
Dave Dombrowski: Matthew B. Mowery of The Oakland Press summed up the 2014 Tigers in less than 140 characters.
Tigers had 3 spots they were attempting to improve in 2014: 1) Defense 2) Baserunning 3) Bullpen Pretty much 0-for-3— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) September 18, 2014
The Twins: If the Tigers fail to win the Central, the last place Twins will be a big reason why. By taking 2-of-3, Minnesota took the season series lead against Detroit, taking 8-of-15 thus far this season. Have I said I HATE THE TWINS lately? Because I really do.
Twins closer Glen Perkins has been trying to pitch though neck and shoulder problems, forcing him to miss several games while blowing three saves in three weeks. Those problems have again become serious enough for the Twins to declare him unavailable for the series finale. Turned out Perkins wouldn't have been needed, the Twins pulling away late.
Alex Avila remained out of the Tigers' lineup due to concussion-like symptoms, missing his third straight game. Bryan Holaday was again given the start behind the plate.
Nick Castellanos was back in Detroit's lineup tonight as the third baseman. He missed yesterday's action due to a sore left foot.
Top of one, Twins starter Kyle Gibson was one strike away from a 1-2-3 inning. Miguel Cabrera singled,starting a two run uprising. Four straight batters reached base, J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos driving in first two Detroit runs with back-to-back RBI singles.
The Tigers lead lasted all of a half inning. David Price had another of his "WTF" innings, roughed up for three runs on four hits and walk. Price needed 28 pitches to get out of the first, the Twins taking a 3-2 advantage.
Top of two, Gibson found himself one out away from stranding a runner on third. But once again, the Tigers rallied with two down to retake the lead at 4-3. Torii Hunter bounced an RBI single to center, circling the bases himself on Cabrera's line drive double to left center.
In the third inning, Castellanos smoked a one-hopper to short which knocked over Eduardo Nunez. Nunez recovered in time to throw Castellanos out from the seat of his pants.
Started from the bottom. http://t.co/t27uofoiee— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) September 18, 2014
While the Tigers were clinging to their one-run lead, the Royals were treating White Sox Cy Young candidate Chris Sale extremely rudely. Kansas City knocked Sale out of the game after just five innings of work, the White Sox down 5-1. The Royals would go on to knock off the White Sox, 6-2.
The Twins rocked Price, Al Alburquerque and Kyle Ryan for four extra base hits in the sixth inning - three doubles and a triple, re-taking the lead at 6-4. Price was pulled after two were out, charged with five runs on the night.
The Tigers were on the verge of pulling within a run in the seventh, until Hunter pulled a ridiculously bad base running gaffe. The infield back, Hunter on third and Cabrera on second, Victor Martinez bounced to first. Mauer went to his knees to make the play, electing to jog to the bag, planning on exchanging an out for run. Hunter should have easily scored, but he stayed put, causing Cabrera to be caught in a rundown, thus completing a rally-killing double play.
Jim Johnson tossed a scoreless seventh, the first 1-2-3 inning of the night for Detroit. But the Tigers rolled the dice by having him go a second inning. Johnson would come up snake eyes, giving up two runs on two hits, pulled with two out in the eighth. Phil Coke took over, allowing a single and the inherited runner to score.
STREAKS AND STATS:
J.D. Martinez drove in a run as part of Detroit's first inning rally, giving him an American League best 17 RBI in the month of September.
David Price allowed three first inning runs, which is nothing new. He has not pitched well in the opening inning since joining the Tigers.
Price with a 7 ERA and 2.11 WHIP in the first inning since coming over from Tampa Bay.— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) September 18, 2014
Price was far from sharp, equaling his season high in walks by issuing three free passes in just four innings. Price had walked only four batters in five previous starts combined.
Price pitched at least eight innings in 12 of his last 18 starts. You can make it 12 of 19, Price lasting just 5 2/3 innings tonight.
Price never had a clean, 1-2-3 inning tonight, allowing at least one base runner in every frame.
Miguel Cabrera surpassed 300 total bases on the season tonight, joining some very exclusive company.
Players with 11 straight seasons of 300 total bases Lou Gehrig 13 Willie Mays 13 Albert Pujols 12 Miguel Cabrera 11 (VIA ELIAS)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 18, 2014
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