The Detroit Tigers scored four runs in the top of the first, but went on to blow that advantage, allowing the Cleveland Indians to send the game into into extra innings. But their dormant bats woke up in the 11th, sending 11 to the plate in a huge seven run inning, leaving Cleveland with an 11-4 victory.
The Tigers end their road trip at 5-3, thanks to taking 3-of-4 from the Indians. The Kansas City Royals were off today, which allowed the Tigers to cut their lead in the AL Central to just one game. In the race for the second wild card, the Seattle Mariners destroyed the Texas Rangers 10-2 and remain 1/2 game back of Detroit in the standings.
Neither starting pitcher lasted past the sixth inning.
Between his own inefficiency and questionable defense behind him leading to extended innings, Max Scherzer needed 124 pitches to get through just six frames. Scherzer was charged with three runs, two earned, on four hits, striking out six and walking three.
Tribe starter Trevor Bauer survived a extremely rocky four run first inning, pitching into the sixth before being pulled. Bauer would allow the four runs on six hits and four walks, striking out four in 5 2/3 innings.
The game was placed in the hands of the bullpens. The Indians' pen would prove to be lights out for 4 1/3 innings, five relievers combining to silence the Tigers' bats on one hit. Then came the 11th. Josh Tomlin (L, 6-9) was rocked for five runs on five hits and two walks in his 1/3 of an inning, taking the loss. Bryan Price took over, serving up two runs on two hits in his 2/3 of an inning.
For the most part, the Tigers' bullpen proved to be up to the task. They did give up the lead, the run charged to Al Alburquerque. scoring off of Blaine Hardy. But Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke and Jim Johnson shut out the Tribe on one hit over the final four innings, locking down the victory. Coke (W, 4-2) received credit for the win thanks to 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Offensively, it was feast or famine for the Tigers. The final numbers look great - 11 runs, 12 hits, seven walks. But all 11 runs, nine of the hits and five walks came in two book-ended innings - the first and 11th.
Ian Kinsler had three hits, the only Tiger with more than one. But the big hit of the game was an 11th inning, two RBI, pinch-hit single off the bat of rookie Eugenio Saurez, snapping a 4-all tie. The magma-hot Victor Martinez scored two runs and reached base four times. His only hit of the night was a three run bomb in the 11th, his 29th home run of the season. Bryan Holaday and Andrew Romine each chipped in two RBI.
The Michaels, Bourn and Brantley, led the Indians' offense, both finishing with two hits and a run scored. Brantley's second hit of the night would send the game into extras, a seventh inning RBI double. Yan Gomes drove in a pair on a sacrifice fly and a ground ball.
Winners of nine of their last 13, the Tigers now head back to Detroit for a huge nine game home stand, beginning with three interleague games against the San Francisco Giants, the final series of the season against a team who isn't in the AL Central. Then things get interesting - three massively important games with the first place Royals, finishing off the home stand with three games versus the third place Indians.
Max Scherzer: Scherzer allowed only four hits and two earned runs in six innings. A quality start is a quality start. But he also needed a ton of pitches, allowed the Indians back in the game and labored greatly just to get through his final inning of work. Scherzer left the game with the lead, but in the hands of the bullpen - always a risky endeavor.
Bryan Holaday: Bottom of nine, two out and the ever dangerous Michael Brantley at the plate, the Indians sent Michael Bourn. Holaday fired an on-target bullet to second to easily nail Bourn, a throw placed so perfectly Andrew Romine didn't even need to move his glove to make the tag. Holaday also added a two RBI single in the big first inning,
Joba Chamberlain: Excellent outing for Yukon Cornelius, not allowing a hit in 1 1/3 innings.
Phil Coke: Another solid performance from Coke, holding the Tribe to just an infield single in his 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Ian Kinsler: Kinser had three hits and two runs scored from the lead off positon.
Eugenio Saurez: Pinch-hitting in the spot vacated by Miguel Cabrera (who was removed for a pinch-runner in the tenth), Saurez came up huge. Bases loaded and one out, Saurez lined a single to left, giving the Tigers a 6-4 lead. That game-winning hit started a seven run avalanche.
Victor Martinez: The Indians refused to pitch to Martinez, walking him three times. When finally forced to give Martinez something to swing at in the 11th, the ageless one took Josh Tomlin deep. His 29th home run of the season was three run bomb, extending the Tigers' lead to 9-4.
Defense: It's ridiculous how bad the Tigers' defense can be. Only one run was ruled unearned, but three of the four Tribe runs could be attributed to Detroit's defensive miscues in one way or another. Post game, Brad Ausmus was asked if the defense was a concern. To no one's surprise, it is.
"We can't keep making mistakes like that, or it'll be a huge concern."
Offense: Post first inning fireworks, the bats went into a long hibernation. The Tigers had just two hits between the second and ninth innings and went nine full innings between runs. But that's been their M.O. in this series. Over the last three games, the Tigers scored in just three of 29 innings.Otherwise, the bats have been silent.
Blaine Hardy: Needed just one pitch to cough up the lead, allowing an inherited runner to score courtesy of Brantley's two out double in the seventh.
Nick Castellanos' at-bat in the tenth: Runners on the corners and one out, Castellanos needed to get his bat on the ball. Instead, he struck out swinging on a breaking ball that was closer to the dugout than the strike zone. Even worse, it would have been ball four. Thankfully, the game didn't end up hinging on that at-bat.
Torii Hunter and Alex Avila were kept out of the starting lineup due to lingering injuries. Hunter fouled a ball off his left foot during Wednesday night's game, leaving him limping today. Tyler Collins got the start in right field, batting second. He was expected to be back in lineup tomorrow, but Hunter was feeling well enough to pinch-hit for Collins in the sixth.
Backup Bryan Holaday received the catching assignment for the second straight game over the hurting Avila. He is still suffering from what Brad Ausmus has termed "lingering side-effects" after being hit in the mask by a foul ball on Tuesday night. Avila is considered day-to-day.
Hernan Perez got the start at shortstop over Andrew Romine and Eugenio Saurez, his first of the season. It was his first game at short for the Tigers since August 9 of last year.
For the third straight game, Victor Martinez was the first baseman and Miguel Cabrera the DH. If Cabrera's ankle doesn't improve, Martinez may be the first sacker for the rest of the season.
The Tigers batted around in the first inning, sending ten to the plate while scoring four runs on four hits, two walks, and a Trevor Bauer wild pitch. The big hit was a bases loaded single off the bat of Holaday, driving in a pair. Rajai Davis added an RBI single as well during the uprising.
Defense is a good thing. The Tigers just forget to play it, often at inopportune times. Michael Brantley on first base and no one out in the fourth, Santana sent a pop fly into short-ish right field. Miscommunication ensued, Ian Kinsler expecting Tyler Collins to call him off. Collins should have, but never did, forcing Kinsler into a lunging attempt at a catch. Someone had to be charged with an error, Kinsler getting the short straw. Luckily for the Tigers, Santana didn't bother to run the ball out. Brantley advanced to third while Santana, who should have been on second, was held at first. Brantley would go on to score on Yan Gomes' sacrifice fly, cutting the Tigers' lead to 4-1.
The Tigers' bats went silent after their big first inning. Bauer held Detroit to one hit between the second and fifth. They threatened in the sixth after Holaday was hit by a pitch and Kinsler singled. Nick Hagadone replaced Bauer, striking out a pinch-hitting Hunter to end the inning.
The expanded roster allowed Ausmus to use Hunter as pinch-hitter, but not have him play the field. Ezequiel Carrera entered the game to play center field in the bottom of the sixth. Rajai Davis shifted from center to left, J.D. Martinez moving from left to replacing Collins in right.
The move led to another questionable defensive play by the Tigers. One out and Santana on first, Davis made an ill-advised attempt to make a sliding grab on Jason Kipnis' line drive. The ball got past him on the short hop, allowing the runners to advance to second and third on what was rule a two base hit. The miscue led to the Indians cutting the Tigers' lead to 4-3. Santana crossed the plate on Gomes' ground out, Kipnis scoring from second on Lonnie Chisenhall's seeing-eye looper past Perez at short. There would have been a play at the plate, but Davis' throw was weak and off-line.
Al Alburquerque replaced Scherzer to start the seventh. He was pulled after recording two out and allowing a single to Michael Bourn. Playing percentages, Ausmus called on lefty Blane Hardy to face the left-hand swinging Brantley. It took just one pitch to tie the game, Hardy serving up a double to Brantley.
If you want fans to get behind replay review, MLB has to do far, far better than the insane 4:08 it took to determine Nick Castellanos was out at first base in the eighth. There's no justifiable reason for a review to take that long. If the play is so close it takes more than four minutes to determine a safe/out call, then declare you saw incontrovertible evidence to overturn it, it's hard to take replay seriously.
The Tigers had three hits combined between the second and tenth innings. In the 11th, the bats woke up, in the nick of time. Detroit sent 11 to the plate, scoring seven runs on five hits and two walks. Even Andrew Romine got into the act, capping off the Tigers' scoring with a two RBI single.
STREAKS AND STATS:
Victor Martinez's intentional walk in the first inning was his 24th of the season. That's the second most in franchise history, trailing only Miguel Cabrera, who had 32 intentional passes in 2010.
Carlos Santana's streak of games featuring a two out, two run homer in the first inning was snapped by Max Scherzer. But it wasn't for a lack of trying on Santana's part. A runner on and two down, he yanked a 1-2 pitch down the left field line, narrowly missing a big fly by a few feet. Scherzer would ultimately strike Santana out to end the inning.
OHGODTHATWASSCARY /exhale— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) September 4, 2014
Scherzer tossed a season high 124 pitches in his six innings of work.
Via Noah Trister of the AP: In Scherzer’s last three starts, the Tigers have led 3-0, 3-0 and 4-0. The other team eventually tied the score in each game. Scherzer has a win, loss and no-decision in the three games.
After a stretch of four starts where Scherzer allowed four earned runs in 30 innings, he's given up 14 earned runs in his last 24 innings covering four games.
Michael Brantley is a Tiger Killer par excellence - He entered the night hitting .387/.449/.581 against Detroit this season, a ridiculous 1.030 OPS. So it was no surprise to see him drive in the game tying run in the seventh.
Nick Castellanos was hitless in four at-bats in regulation, and it appeared his hitting streak was snappped at five games. But extra innings gave Castellanos a chance to keep the streak alive. He did just that, an 11th inning double extneded thre streak, ending the niight 1-for-6.
Steven Moya is no longer hitting 1.000. He pinch-hit for Hernan Perez in the eighth, bouncing to second. He's now slashing .667/.667/.667 ... in three at-bats.
The Indians bullpen retired ten straight Tigers between the sixth and ninth innings.
Miguel Cabrera was hitless until he doubled to lead off the tenth, finishing the series in Cleveland 9-for-18.
Victor Martinez punished his former team in the four games series - 7-for-14, two home runs, two doubles, four walks, one intentional walk, three runs, five RBI.
Thanks to his three run home run, Martinez (93) is now on the verge of passing Cabrera (94) for the team RBI lead.
Jim Johnson tossed a scoreless 11th. He hasn't allowed a run in five of his last six outings.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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