Kyle Lobstein gave the Tigers another good outing, but it was J.D. Martinez who stole the show. After being unable to get anything done all night offensively, a three-run home run to center field turned the tables on a losing situation. The Tigers won 4-2, robbing the Indians of a win that was all but guaranteed coming into the ninth inning.
Lobstein had difficulties with the strike zone early on and it led to him being pulled after 5 1/3 innings due to a high pitch count, but in that time he gave up just two runs on five hits, both coming via the long ball. Lobstein walked three batters and recorded at least two strikeouts in four of the innings, earning a career-high 10 strikeouts overall.
The Tigers offense had plenty of hits, but they couldn't produce on any of them, their lone run came via a bases-loaded walk that Alex Avila drew. The offense threatened against the Indians in six out of their eight innings but every single time they failed to plate a runner, stranding runners at third base on multiple occasions.
For eight innings the Tigers were 2-15 with runners in scoring position, putting Lobstein on the hook for the loss. But there are nine innings for a reason and with two on and one out, J.D. Martinez blasted a monster three-run home run to deep center field. What was once looking like a 2-1 loss in the works quickly turned into a lead that held.
Torii Hunter's at-bat was crucial though. Coming into the ninth inning, Hunter was 0-9 in the series, but he battled eight pitches to draw a leadoff walk. Steven Moya pinch-ran for Miguel Cabrera, who singled to put two aboard for Victor Martinez. He would fly out and it was left to J.D. Martinez to come up with a clutch hit, and he did not disappoint.
The bullpen had a few hiccups, but overall they kept it together and did not allow a run. The win went to Phil Coke (3-2), who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and retired the eighth on just six pitches. Blaine Hardy pitched a scoreless inning with one hit and two walks, and Joe Nathan sent the Indians packing as he gave up just one hit with two outs, earning his 29th save of the season.
Kyle Lobstein: He got off to a shaky start, unable to find the strike zone half of the time. For that, Lobstein was at 63 pitches through three innings, but he found the zone in the third inning and struck out the side. While he was pulled after 5 1/3 innings with a runner on first, Lobstein finished with 10 strikeouts in that time, walking three. For a pinch-fifth starter, Lobstein is filling in nicely.
K-K-K-K-K-Kyle Lobstein— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) September 3, 2014
Blaine Hardy/Phil Coke: Hardy was sent in to clean up Alburquerque's mess and he did just that. Hardy walked the leadoff man then erased him with a snap pickoff and recorded the second out in the seventh. Hardy wasn't able to get the third out and put two on, so Coke was sent to finish the inning. He did just that and remained in the game to retire the eighth inning in order on six pitches.
Middle of the order: Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez all finished 3-5 with two doubles. J.D. Martinez got the final word though, when he smoked a three-run home run to center field in the ninth inning with one out that put the Tigers up 4-2. (MLB.com video)
Ever think about where you'd be without J.D. Martinez? Brad Ausmus: "I don't like to do that."— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) September 3, 2014
Rajai Davis: He finished the night with three hits on four at-bats, including a double. No thanks to Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter's productive-less night, he never touched home plate. Although Hunter does earn a big hat tip for drawing the leadoff walk in the ninth inning. But still, it should not have come down to that.
Joe Nathan: Allowed just one two-out hit, needing just 11 pitches to close out the game in solid fashion.
TTBDNS: Multiple scoring opportunities in innings two through seven were squandered. All started out with less than two outs and only one came around to score via a seven-pitch walk by Alex Avila in the second inning with the bases loaded. By the end of the eight innings, the Tigers were still trailing 2-1 when it should have easily been a blowout situation. With few exceptions, everyone on the starting lineup gets a hiss here by default.
The Tigers have a pair of runners on base with one out. This seems familiar...— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) September 3, 2014
Carlos Carrasco: His fastball looked like his slider, and his slider looked like his fastball. The Tigers fell for the slider every single time and the previous hiss was the result. Ordinarily, you could have made the argument that the Tigers weren't able to make contact, but 13 hits and the middle of the order listing multiple of them proves otherwise.
Al Alburquerque: Sent in to replace Lobstein in the sixth, Alburquerque was unable to record an out or find the strike zone, leaving two on and a tricky situation for Hardy to clean up.
Tuesday a scoring change was issued regarding Monday's game. Miguel Cabrera's single in the third inning was changed to an error by the right fielder, Mike Aviles. Subsequently, both home runs hit by Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez in that inning were also unearned, because had Aviles caught the ball as he should have been able to, the inning would have been over. Corey Kluber's line is corrected to reflect two earned runs and three unearned, rather than the five earned runs he was initially charged with. Cabrera is now credited with a 3-5 day (reaching on the E9 in the third) instead of a 4-5 afternoon.
The double that J.D. Martinez dropped in Sunday's sloppy defensive game has not yet been changed to an error.
Alex Avila was taken out of the game in the sixth inning after being struck by a near-direct impact foul tip to the mask. Bryan Holaday took over catching duties and Avila walked off the field under his own power, howbeit slowly, and he had a dazed look while talking to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand in the dugout.
Alex Avila said he felt fine after the game. He certainly was in better shape than I expected to find him.— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) September 3, 2014
Joakim Soria (strained left oblique) played catch from 140 feet prior to the game, doing so without pain for the first time since going on the disabled list on August 10. Ausmus told reporters he will probably throw batting practice rather than pitch in the minors, but there still isn't a timetable for his return.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Miguel Cabrera hit the 455th double of his career and his AL-leading 43rd of the season in the fourth inning. The hit put him within one of the 98th spot for the All-Time leaders spot in doubles, currently occupied by Omar Vizquel, who has 456.
- Kyle Lobstein is one of three Tiger pitchers since 1914 to strike out 10-or-more in one of his first three career appearances. The other two to strike out 10-or-more in one of their first three career appearances were Jack Morris on July 31, 1977 against the Rangers, and Denny McLain on September 29, 1963 against the Orioles. Lobstein's 10 strikeouts were also a career high.
- Blaine Hardy spoiled an opportunity for the Indians by getting the final out to leave the bases loaded in the 6th inning. Hardy has allowed just three of 19 inherited base-runners to score this season.
- J.D. Martinez hit the first ninth inning go-ahead home run of his career. In seven games at Progressive Field this season, J.D. Martinez is hitting .464 with five home runs and 13 RBI.
- The Tigers picked up the first two games of the four-game series against the Indians and have won seven of their last 10 games. The Royals won 2-1 against the Rangers so the Tigers remain a half-game behind them for the AL Central lead.
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