The rain was plentiful and the runs were few on Saturday night, as the Detroit Tigers took on the Boston Red Sox in the third game of a four-game set. Daniel Norris made the start for the Tigers, but had his outing cut short by the rain delay. The offense was quiet once again, and the Tigers fell by a score of 3-2.
It took an extra hour and a half to get started, but the rain clouds disappeared enough to begin the game by 8:30 pm. The Red Sox put men on base in the first and second innings but were unable to score, while the Tigers offense could not get anything going against Drew Pomeranz either.
Norris faltered in the third inning, loading the bases on three straight singles. But after falling behind 2-0 in the count against the dangerous Mookie Betts, Norris fought back to induce a key double play and ended the inning down just 1-0.
The Tigers answered right back in the bottom of the third, as James McCann led off with his his tenth home run of the season. However, in the top of the fifth, David Ortiz hit yet another homer against the Tigers, giving Boston a 3-1 lead.
It looked like Detroit was going to quickly respond again, as Justin Upton and Casey McGehee hit back-to-back singles to start the fifth inning. Unfortunately, a McCann double play and Andrew Romine ground out allowed Pomeranz to escape the jam.
As soon as the inning ended, the game entered another rain delay that lasted about an hour. Both starters were removed because of the lengthy break, which was an advantage for the Tigers considering their lack of offense against Pomeranz, who had only thrown 51 pitches.
Alex Wilson was the first man out of the bullpen and looked very impressive, notching a pair of perfect innings with a couple of strikeouts. The Tigers then made it a 3-2 game in the bottom of the seventh inning after an absolute bomb by J.D. Martinez into the left field seats.
Shane Greene took over in the eighth inning and was dominant as well, striking out a pair of Red Sox while keeping the bases empty. The Tigers had a great chance to tie the game or take the lead in the bottom of the eighth, putting two men on with just one out. After Erick Aybar popped up, Boston brought in closer Craig Kimbrel to face Miguel Cabrera. The move worked out for the Red Sox as Cabrera flied out to end the threat.
Down 3-2, the Tigers sent Justin Wilson to the mound in the top of the ninth. He too was looking sharp, recording a couple strikeouts to give the Tigers one last chance in the bottom of the inning. Kimbrel got the first two outs fairly easily, but gave up a long drive to dead center by Justin Upton. The ball looked to clear the wall but landed just inches short, and Upton ended on second. Casey McGehee had a chance to bring him home, but he struck out to end the game.
J.D. Martinez: Just another dinger for the Tigers’ slugger who has looked great since returning from his injury.
James McCann: Only one hit on the night for McCann, but it was the only damage the Tigers could do against Pomeranz.
The bullpen: Alex Wilson, Shane Greene, Justin Wilson were lights out, throwing four perfect innings and striking out six.
The rain: As annoying as rain delays are, the Tigers caught a break when the Red Sox had to go to their bullpen early.
1-4 hitters: For the second night in a row, the top of the batting order was awful. The men at the top of the lineup went 0-for-15 on Saturday night after going hitless the day before as well.
Hitting with RISP: The Tigers went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Both the “0” and the “5” parts are bad.
STATS AND REACTIONS:
- Norris gave up eight hits and three runs in five innings before the rain came back. He threw strikes over 65 percent of the time, but still lacked efficiency, unable to record any 1-2-3 innings. However, it is important to remember that this was still just start No. 25 for the young left-hander in his career.
- Although manager Brad Ausmus can be very reluctant to use his best relievers at times, he does not seem to have that fear with pinch hitting or running. The substitutions he made tonight turned out to be inconsequential moves at the bottom of the lineup, but he has not shown any hesitation when making substitutions to find some more speed.
- Not to sound like a broken record, but the offense just does not look intimidating right now. Both runs came from solo home runs, and the Tigers struggle on a nightly basis to put any sort of rally together.
- Standings update: 7 back of Cleveland, 3 1/2 back of Baltimore.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: