While the Cleveland Indians were getting swept in Baltimore, the Detroit Tigers’ offense laid down and died for eight innings and the game looked out of reach. Miraculously, that master of the pinch-hit situation, Brad Ausmus, brought Tyler Collins and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in to launch solo shots off of David Robertson in the top of the ninth, tying the game. Brad Ausmus, Bruce Rondon, and especially Nick Castellanos then combined to give it away, and the Tigers lost 5-4 to split the series.
With Anibal Sanchez on tap to start, and the taxed White Sox bullpen in need of rest, the onus was on the offense to knock Jose Quintana out of the game as soon as possible. Unfortunately, while they made a lot of hard contact, the big bats were shut down in what has become a disturbing pattern in July.
Quintana is one of the finest starters in the American League, but a lineup packed with right-handed power has to muster more than the three hits they managed. Quintana struck out just four over 6 2/3 innings, with Miguel Cabrera playing the victim twice. Meanwhile every hard hit ball seemed to be hit directly into a defender's glove.
Anibal Sanchez, as one expects, reverted back to the state we've endured over the past year. Adam Eaton, fresh off a walkoff single to end Saturday night's delayed game, got the Sox on the board in the first. He and shortstop Tim Anderson led off the game with singles, and Eaton would trot home on an RBI single from Jose Abreu.
Eaton struck again in the second. With two on, the Sox outfielder and all around pest lifted a Sanchez offering over the right-field wall to make it 4-0. Sanchez settled down, and was rescued by Justin Upton, who robbed another home run ball later in the game. Every time Sanchez sat in the strike zone with his fastball, the Sox returned line drives all over the field. Sanchez did well to limit the damage and get through six innings. He surrendered 10 hits, four runs, and way too much hard contact.
In the eighth, the Tigers finally made some noise. Andrew Romine, I kid you not, skipped a Nate Jones fastball off the top of the wall in right for a solo shot. A Kinsler single, an Iglesias force-out and a walk to Miguel Cabrera left Victor Martinez with an opportunity to tie the game. Jones got him swinging on a slider off the plate, and the squander continued.
In the ninth, Nick Castellanos led off by murdering a David Robertson curveball to left field to make it 4-2. Robertson, who had closed out the delayed game three hours earlier, rebounded to strike out Justin Upton, and with Mike Aviles and Tyler Collins to follow, the outcome was assured. Except, this is baseball, y'all. Predict it at your peril.
Using Robertson twice in one day seems a rather foolish idea on the surface, doesn't it? Ventura finally made his bone-headed decision, and Brad Ausmus finally did the right thing. Collins and Saltalamacchia launched back-to-back pinch-hit home runs to tie it up.
Predictably, Ausmus then returned the favor in the bottom of the ninth with a questionable move of his own. Instead of using Francisco Rodriguez or Alex Wilson, or staying with Kyle Ryan against a lefty, Ausmus went to Bruce Rondon. Of course, and a leadoff walk to Adam Eaton spelled doom. Eaton took second on a groundout and scored when Nick Castellanos completed one of the worst two-day defensive performances I've ever seen in my life by booting a Melky Cabrera ground ball, allowing Eaton to score on the walk-off error.
The result: two walk-off losses in the same day, and now a trip to Boston.
Andrew Romine: Tasked with filling in for Cameron Maybin in centerfield, the well-rested utility man answered the call with several nice defensive plays and launched a solo shot in the 8th.
Kyle Ryan: Cleaned up a Mark Lowe mess in the seventh inning and added a clean eighth inning to continue the fine work of the Tigers' bullpen.
Tyler Collins: A pinch-hit bomb with two-outs in the ninth gave the Tigers a faint chance to pull this one out.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: Followed Collins with a missile to right of his own to tie it up in the ninth.
Brad Ausmus: Simply in the hope that he never, ever, forgets this game.
The Offense: There was certainly a lot of bad BABIP luck involved, but the Tigers' offense was basically hot garbage all weekend against an undermanned White Sox staff.
Brad Ausmus: After finally doing the right thing by pinch-hitting aggressively for Aviles and Romine and seeing it work out, Ausmus turned right around and booted it by failing to use his well-rested closer in a tie-game.
Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez: The engine that drives the Tigers' offense continues to have no gas in it.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Andrew Romine's eighth-inning home run was his first since June 23, 2016. Perhaps were Mike Aviles not inexplicably blocking him, it would happen just a bit more often.
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