The Detroit Tigers needed a stopper and Jordan Zimmermann was up to the task again on Wednesday night. The Tigers' right-hander blanked the Royals' offense, evening the three-game series at a game apiece. He also stretched his scoreless streak to 19.1 inning to start the year. Meanwhile, the offense pushed across just enough runs to avoid a near meltdown from closer Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth.
Zimmermann was sharp all evening. He blended another heavy dose of sliders with pinpoint command against a pesky Royals' offense, punching out eight hitters. He scattered seven hits and one walk, but really gave up only a handful of hard-hit balls all night. His scoreless innings streak was never in danger until the fifth inning.
With runners on first and second and one out, Zimmermann induced a sharp grounder to Ian Kinsler off the bat of the Royals LF, Jarrod Dyson. Kinsler showed off his smarts, forcing Salvador Perez back toward first base before firing to first to get the speedy Dyson in time. As a result, he kept the double-play alive, and Jose Iglesias gunned down Alex Gordon at home plate to end the inning.
The Tigers' offense struggled with Ian Kennedy much of the night. Ian Kinsler got the Tigers an early lead, driving in Jarrod Saltalamacchia from third with a double to deep centerfield in the third inning. Things remained quiet until the sixth when an RBI single by Victor Martinez plated Kinsler for the Tigers' second run. Otherwise the woeful performance from the Tigers' big bats continued.
Zimmermann got the first out of the night in the seventh, but was pulled after a double from Perez. Mark Lowe came on in relief to clean up the inning and maintain Zimmermann's perfect ERA. Justin Wilson got a little help from the Tigers' stellar double-play combo, and added a strikeout of Eric Hosmer as he spun a clean eighth inning of his own.
The Tigers tacked on a run in the ninth as Kinsler singled to drive in Saltalamacchia. The veteran second baseman and catcher continue to lead the way offensively. That run would quickly prove crucial.
Then things got ugly. With one out in the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez quickly allowed back-to-back solo shots to Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez. After a groundout and a pair of walks, the tying run stood on second base in the form of Alcides Escobar. With the hearts of Tigers' fans in their throats, Rodriguez got Mike Moustakas to strike out, ending a terrifying inning. All of Tigerdom heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Victor Martinez: 5th Venezuelan-born player with 1,000 RBI, joining Miguel Cabrera, Andres Galarraga, Bobby Abreu and Magglio Ordonez.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 21, 2016
.@JDMartinez14 has reached base safely in all 13 games this season and in 19 straight games dating back to 9/28/2015.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) April 21, 2016
Jordan Zimmermann: Zimmermann was absolutely dominant, finally displaying the pinpoint control, and wind-generating slider he's known for. Eight strikeouts, one walk, no runs over 6 1/3 innings.
Ian Kinsler: A long RBI double, a single, a run scored, and another heads up defensive play from Ian Kinsler. There should be a special name to describe the well-rounded games Kinsler produces on a regular basis. He also singled in the 8th to plate Saltalamacchia for an insurance run.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: On base three times again Wednesday night, Salty scored the Tigers' first run and added another double in the 8th inning. Also handled the pitching staff nicely all night.
Justin Upton: Another pair of strikeouts and five LOBsters for the Tigers slumping left-fielder. He did chip in a single in the 8th.
Anthony Gose: Gose struck out twice and looked badly overmatched by Ian Kennedy's high fastball. He also failed to drop a decent sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning. An 0-for-4 night and four more LOBsters of his own.
Francisco Rodriguez: Another terrifying ninth inning from the veteran closer caused a storm of profanity to erupt over our fair state.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Victor Martinez' fifth inning RBI single gave him 1000 for his career.
- Jordan Zimmermann stretched his scoreless innings streak to 19.1 innings, tying the Tigers all-time record for scoreless innings to start a season. He's currently tied with reliever Doug Bair, who turned the trick in 1983. Stay tuned!
- J.D. Martinez has now reached base in 19 straight games stretching back to September of last year.
- Ian Kinsler now has 12 RBI in 12 games on the year.
- Tonight marked the 390th save of Francisco Rodriguez' career, tying him with Dennis Eckersley for 6th all-time.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: