The Tigers rode a three game win streak into Houston, while the Astros were reeling after being swept three straight by the Kansas City Royals. Each team featured a ground ball pitcher in the series opener, but that's where the similarities between the two hurlers ends. Detroit sent right hander Mike Pelfrey to face Houston's 20-game winner, lefthander Dallas Keuchel. The Houston ace was 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA pitching at home in 2015.
Each team got a pair of hits in the first inning, but Ian Kinsler was erased attempting to take third on a single by Miguel Cabrera, while the Astros plated a run on a pair of singles and a pair of walks by Pelfrey. He managed to get out of the inning with the bases loaded and only a one run deficit.
Pelfrey loaded the bases again in the second frame with a pair of walks and an infield single, but he struck out George Springer and got Carlos Correa to ground into a double play to end the threat. He put the first two Astros on base in the third inning with a single by Colby Rasmus and a walk to Tyler White. He again escaped damage by getting Evan Gattis on a foul pop up and another double play, this time from Carlos Gomez.
The Astros stranded a runner on third base in the fourth inning following a single and a throwing error on Saltalamacchia on an attempted stolen base. Another walk to Colby Rasmus in the fifth inning led to the Tigers' third double play of the game, keeping the game locked at 1-0. Pelfrey retired the Astros in order for the first and only time in the sixth inning. leaving his pitch count at 104 and ending his outing.
Keuchel retired 11 consecutive Tigers before J.D. Martinez singled to right field in the seventh inning. A dozen ground balls for the evening kept the Tigers off the bases. He finished with four strikeouts and one walk, allowing five hits across eight innings.
Luke Gregerson came on to close out the Tigers in the ninth. He got Cabrera to ground out, then Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez flew out to seal the win for the Astros.
Buck Farmer pitched two scoreless innings to keep the Tigers within one run. He got Castro, Altuve, and Springer on a strikeout, ground out, and fly out, respectively, in the seventh. Then, he got Correa to fly out before striking out Rasmus and T.J. White in the eighth.
The Tigers' defense turned three inning ending double plays to keep the Astros within reach.
Mike Pelfrey gets credit for gutting out a one run, six inning performance, ugly as it may have been.
Pelfrey issued six walks, matching his season high for 2015, to go with five hits and three strikeouts. Just one run scored, courtesy of three double plays, but he's playing with fire by issuing so many free passes.
Ian Kinsler racked up another TOOTBLAN, getting himself thrown out by a country mile at third base with one out in the first inning.
JACKIE ROBINSON DAY TRIVIA:
Jackie Robinson Day falls on April 15 each season, marking the anniversary of Robinson's major league debut in 1947. It has become standard issue for all players to wear number 42 on this celebrated day. Twenty-two Detroit Tigers have worn the number 42 jersey prior to it being retired by Major League Baseball in 1997. Jose Lima was the last Astros' player and the last Tiger to wear the digits during the 2001 and 2002 seasons as he was "grandfathered in." Alan Trammell wore number 42 in his rookie season, 1977.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Mike Pelfrey was one of seven qualified AL pitchers with a ground ball ratio above 50 percent in 2015. Keuchel led the league with a whopping 61.7 percent ground ball ratio.
- The Tigers' league leading offense failed to score four runs for the first time this season.
- J.D. Martinez has safely reached base in all nine Tigers games this season.
- Ian Kinsler has hit safely in eight of the Tigers' first nine games this year. He has multiple hits in five games after leading the major leagues with 61 multi hit games last season.
- Justin Upton has struck out at least once in every game this season.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: