In a game that will be remembered far longer for what Brad Ausmus did -- or, more accurately, didn't do -- with a struggling young pitcher on the mound, the Texas Rangers scored one more run than the Detroit Tigers in a televised comedy event that loosely resembled a baseball game.
Rangers starter Cole Hamels retired the first two batters he faced quickly, but pitched carefully around Miguel Cabrera, who entered the game with seven hits in 11 career at-bats against the 31-year-old lefthander. J.D. Martinez lined Hamels' next pitch into the Tigers' bullpen in right-center, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The next half inning took a while, so bear with me.
Delino DeShields Jr. led off the Rangers' half of the first with a liner directly at Ian Kinsler, who allowed the ball to skip past him. Shin-Soo Choo followed up with a two-run homer to right field, tying the game. Adrian Beltre singled, Prince Fielder walked, Jeff Jones walked out to the mound, and Mike Napoli reached on a pop-up that evaded Jefry Marte, scoring another run. Mitch Moreland grounded out, Elvis Andrus hit a sacrifice fly, and Rougned Odor tripled. Mercifully, Chris Gimenez flew out to right to end the inning.
The final tally: five runs, three hits, two fielding errors, 54 Daniel Norris pitches, and one angry mob screaming at Brad Ausmus. After the Tigers scored a pair of runs to trim their deficit, Norris was allowed to start the second inning. He allowed another run while recording two outs, and was taken out after 71 total pitches.
The third inning began with two quick outs, but for the third frame in a row, the Tigers used a two-out rally to score a pair of runs. Hamels, who was smart enough to spread his inefficient pitch count over multiple innings, finally retired the side, then settled down to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard in his next three frames. The Rangers added a run in the fourth, taking a 7-6 lead.
Luckily for this recapper, the game quickly regressed to the mean afterward. Pitchers recorded more outs, the pace quickened, and Jefry Marte even decided to play a little defense. Al Alburquerque escaped a bases loaded jam in the seventh, and Bryan Holaday threw out a baserunner to end the eighth.
Unfortunately, the Tigers could not replicate their early two-out success and went quietly in the final few innings, squandering a late rally against closer Shawn Tolleson in the ninth.
The offense: Despite their late-inning struggles, the Tigers were able to score six runs off Cole Hamels, which should be enough to win on most nights.
The defense: Somehow, the Tigers were only charged with three errors. You could argue that there were six.
Brad Ausmus: We have largely refrained from mentioning the Tigers' skipper in this fashion throughout the season. I am not as livid as the rest of the internet, who now thinks Ausmus is the Worst Person Ever, but letting Daniel Norris throw 54 pitches in a single inning was not smart.
Jefry Marte: He drove in a run in the third inning, but Marte's defense was a special brand of awful tonight. He badly misplayed a pop-up in the first inning, contributing to Norris' elevated pitch count. Marte also gaffed on a couple of grounders at third base after moving across the diamond.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- The Tigers have 15 starts of three innings or fewer this season, tied with the Oakland Athletics for the most in Major League Baseball.
- J.D. Martinez has 38 home runs and 101 RBI, the first Tiger to eclipse those numbers since Miguel Cabrera in 2013. Prior to Cabrera, the last Tiger to hit 38 homers with at least 100 RBI was Dean Palmer in 1999.
WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN: