The Tigers played baseball and won a game it would have been better for them to lose while the Rangers lost a game they really would have liked to win. Baseball does not always make sense and when the end nears, baseball only gets more counterintuitive and strange until it is gone. When it ends, baseball reveals the secret joke at the heart of its soul, quietly laughing at us as we wait eagerly for reports about other people having meetings in some place like Florida.
Colby Lewis took the mound under the Monday Night Lights and after two prompt groundouts and a strikeout of Miguel Cabrera, it looked as though the Tigers' struggles against right handers would continue for another day. Fortunately Justin Verlander was sharp as well, getting out of the first inning with sixteen pitches, only allowing a walk to former Tiger legend Prince Fielder. The second inning unfolded in a similar fashion -- Lewis allowed a single, but the Tigers hit into a double play and Nick Castellanos hit a long line out. Verlander induced a weak pop out and a weak groundout before allowing a single to Elvis Andrus. Roughed Odor then popped out to Casetellanos in foul territory. It was looking like we had a good old fashioned pitcher's duel on our hands in Arlington (we did not).
The Tigers threatened in the third, putting two on with one out. Romine and Machado executed a double steal to put runners at second and third. Gose struck out and Tyler Collins was hit by a pitch, bringing up Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded and two out. Cabrera walked to put the Tigers up 1-0 and although Victor Martinez would fly out, Lewis left the inning at 54 pitches. Verlander answered with a 1-2-3 third inning.
It was Verlander's turn to get in trouble in the bottom of the fourth. Prince Fiedler hit the first pitch he saw on a line to right field and it cleared the fence, tying the game at one. Two (pretty soft) singles put runners at the corners with no outs. A walk to Josh Hamilton loaded the bases and earned JV a visit from Jeff Jones. Romine made a tough play, back-pedalling into short right field for the first out. Verlander then stuck out Rougned Odor with a fastball above the letters, coming in at 95 mph and moving. Chris Giminez worked a full count before Verlander dusted him with 96 mph heat at the knees. Verlander flirted with trouble casually and confidently, only to evade it with the fastball. 75 pitches after four innings is not a good look, but getting out of the bases-loaded, no-out jam was sexy.
In the fifth, the Tigers turned it on. With two men on, Tyler Collins hit a three run home run. VMart hit a single, Castellanos doubled and Victor came up limping into third base. Victor's disappointing, injury riddled season mercifully nears an end. He would stay in the game because reasons and score with Castellanos on a James McCann single that knocked Lewis out of the game. Anthony Bass swam to safety, but at 6-1, Tigers, the damage was done.
Victor would not bat again but other people did and they got hits. The Tigers had twelve on the night to go with six walks. With the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, J.D. Martinez hit a slow roller to short. A bad feed from Andrus prevented the Rangers from turning the double play, making it 7-1, Tigers. Verlander would cruise through six innings looking comfortable, leaving after 107 pitches (nice). Blaine Hardy took over and newly minted Tiger Killer Prince Fielder drove in a run to make it 7-2, Tigers. Gorzelanny came out throwing from his new arm slot and that worked. A 1-2-3 inning in the eighth was a welcome sight.
Krol came in to finish the game, but he did not do that. After a groundout, a double and two walks loaded the bases. Ausmus brought in Neftali Feliz to face Prince Fielder, Tiger Killer, with the bases loaded. Prince drove the eleventh pitch of the at bat to center to drive in two runs, 7-4, Tigers. Ausmus looked serene and right when things looked their most bleak, Adrian Beltre hit into a double play, abruptly ending the game. The Tigers win!
Justin Verlander: Verlander appears officially ready to put away the title "Former Tigers Ace." He put together another solid start, going six innings with six hits, two walks one earned run and five strikeouts. His resurgence continues to be the best part of this season and sign of hope for next year.
Andrew Romine: Our new, somehow less exciting Don Kelly reached base four times in the most nondescript manner imaginable with two singles, a walk and a hit by pitch. He obviously played good defense as well and did everything the right way from all reports.
Tyler Collins: He only had one hit, but when your hit is a three-run home run, you get a roar.
Victor Martinez's legs: They have had a really bad year and that continued tonight as Martinez exited the game with left quad soreness.
Time and Baseball: At this point in a season going nowhere the bittersweet feelings really start to kick in. While watching generally mediocre to terrible baseball is not fun, it is better than watching no baseball and no baseball means snow, ice, winter, cold and death. We are a precious handful of games away from the 2015 season ending, so hiss to that feeling.
The Bullpen: Rinse and repeat.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- The Tigers got their first hit in the second inning, but it was promptly erased when J.D. Martinez hit into the 148th double play of the season for the Tigers. That number, as always, leads the league.
- Prince Fielder came into the game hitless against Verlander in eight at bats and had a walk, double and home run today off of JV.
- Steven Moya is six feet and seven inches tall. It really shows.
- J.D.'s RBI in the sixth inning was his 99th of the year.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: