The Tigers went down one-two-three to open the game and the Astros were up two after their number two hitter, George Springer, hit a home run. The numbers early on were not good. Verlander struck out back-to-back hitters before Tyler White hit a home run and Preston Tucker popped out. 3-0, Astros. The Tigers struck back in the top of the second. Victor Martinez lead off with a double. A Nick Castellanos double drove Victor home, but Castellanos was thrown out trying to stretch the double (again). Saltalamacchia followed up with a double, but it was for naught. The Tigers continue to be their own worst enemy, 3-1, Astros.
Jose Iglesias lead off the fifth with a double. Upton hit what appeared to be a routine groundout to third, but Valbuena threw the ball through Tyler White's glove. It broke the leather and trickled into the dugout. Iglesias came around to score, and Upton advanced to second. Miguel then hit a double that Justin Upton somehow did not score on. Base running struck again. Victor battled, but popped out to third. J.D. struck out, and the Tigers threat was over. Without the base running errors the Tigers would have had a lead, but it sat at 3-2, Astros. Luckily, in the top of the sixth Saltalamacchia put up the two runs the Tigers lost on the base paths with a home run off the right field foul pole, 4-3, Tigers.
Verlander's command was off, but his stuff looked fairly good. After immediately giving up three runs, he made it through six innings, struck out eight, gave up seven hits and two walks in 106 pitches. In other words, he got the job done. It was a very Zimmermann-esque performance. Justin Wilson came on in relief and threw a clean inning in the seventh with a strikeout and a double play turned behind him. Mark Lowe followed suit in the eighth with a one-two-three inning.
In the ninth, the Tigers got some much needed insurance. Miguel lead off with a single and Victor followed with a double deep to center, making it 5-3, Tigers. Enter Francisco Rodriguez for the save. He mercifully stuck with the new plot and ended the game with a one-two-three inning as well. It was a generally perfect spring day in the Midwest and to live the impossible dream in which the bullpen functions as it should and everything goes smoothly was a thought almost too sweet and beautiful to entertain. Today was the halcyon days that we often imagine, but never seem to savor.
Nick Castellanos: Nick went three for five, continuing his hot start.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: His last name is Italian for jumping over a thicket, but he may be jumping into Tigers fans' hearts with another clutch home run.
The Bullpen: Is this real life?
Base running: An aspect of baseball that continues to elude the Tigers.
J.D. Martinez and Upton: They went 1/10 with six strikeouts between them.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Victor Martinez hit career RBI number 998
- The Tigers left 11 runners stranded on base
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: