Very little has come easy for the 2015 Detroit Tigers. The bullpen nearly blew a seven-run lead in tonight's series opener against the Baltimore Orioles, but another scoreless performance from Alex Wilson shut the door, and the new-look Tigers won their first game of the "rebooting" era, 9-8.
The Tigers wasted no time getting on the board in the top of the first, scoring a pair of runs off Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez. Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias singled to lead off the game, but Kinsler was tagged out at third base when he slid off the bag. After Yoenis Cespedes reached on an infield single, J.D. Martinez lined a double down the left field line to score both baserunners.
After threatening again in the second, the Tigers broke things open in the fourth. Two singles and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third for Rajai Davis, who hit a liner into the right-center gap for an RBI triple. Kinsler scored Davis on a bloop single, pushing the lead to 5-0. Gonzalez was replaced by Bud Norris, who immediately picked off Kinsler at first base. After Iglesias doubled to left, Cespedes hit a home run to deep left field, his 18th of the season.
Meanwhile, Simon had a no-hitter going in the fourth inning. He walked Nolan Reimold to lead off the inning, then gave up a two-run homer to All-Star center fielder Adam Jones, cutting the lead to 7-2. Simon allowed just two hits in 5 2/3 innings of work, both home runs.
The Tigers' hit parade continued in the sixth. Kinsler, Iglesias, and Cespedes all singled (again), pushing across another run. J.D. Martinez added to the tally with a single, scoring Iglesias. Castellanos walked to load the bases, but James McCann flew out to end the inning with the score at 9-2. Baltimore's Chris Davis cut the lead back to five in the bottom of the sixth, mashing a two-run homer to deep right field with two outs.
The Orioles made things more interesting in the seventh, cutting the Tigers' lead to two. Shane Greene allowed two singles and a walk, but departed with Chris Davis coming to the plate. Manager Brad Ausmus opted for lefty Blaine Hardy, but Davis lined a 1-1 pitch into center field for a two-run single. Pinch-hitter Matt Wieters hit a sharp single off Castellanos in the next at-bat, scoring Adam Jones for the Orioles' seventh run of the game. Al Alburquerque struck out J.J. Hardy to end the threat.
After hte Tigers went 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, the Orioles cut the lead to one in the bottom half of the inning. Alburquerque was lifted after allowing two baserunners, and a wild pitch from Alex Wilson moved the runners up 90 feet. An RBI groundout by Manny Machado made hte score 9-8, but Wilson retired five of the six batters he faced for his first career save.
The top of the lineup: Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias, and Yoenis Cespedes combined for nine hits in the first six innings, leading to five of the Tigers' eight runs.
James McCann: The McCannon collected a pair of hits in his first two at-bats, and scored on Rajai Davis' triple in the fourth.
Alex Wilson: As fans clamored for Wilson to take the closer's role after Joakim Soria's departure, Wilson recorded the last five outs of the game, including stranding the tying runner on third base in the eighth inning.
Ian Kinsler's baserunning: Seriously, dude. A hard-charging Kinsler slid over third base on a bang-bang play in the top of the first, resulting in a needless out while the game was still in doubt. Kinsler was then caught napping later on, getting picked off of first base in the fourth.
The bullpen: Except for Alex Wilson.
Victor Martinez: He walked once, but it was another rough night for Victor. Whatever magic he had in his bat prior to the All-Star Game appears to be gone.
VMart since the start of the last homestand: 10-for-53 (.189), 1-2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 11 Ks/3 BB— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) July 31, 2015
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Yoenis Cespedes homered in the fourth inning, his 18th of the season. Thirteen of Cespedes' 18 homers have come on the road this year. He has eight home runs in July, tied for fourth in the major leagues.
- Jose Iglesias had three hits, his seventh game with at least three base hits of the season. He has nine doubles in July.
- Tonight's game was the eighth time this season that the Tigers have had at least three players collect three hits in a single game. The last occurrence came on July 6 against the Seattle Mariners.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: