The Tigers also brought their bats, though. They worked Rays starter Chris Archer’s pitch count all night, knocking him out of the game after just five innings and four runs allowed. The Tigers offense then feasted on the Rays bullpen to turn a 5-1 deficit into a 7-5 lead in the sixth. Alex Wilson was uncharacteristically shaky in the seventh, coughing up a run, but he and Justin Wilson preserved the lead until the ninth.
If you prefer a visual representation of tonight’s game, this is pretty accurate, except imagine the dude getting kicked in the nuts at the end of it.
Jordan Zimmermann started off pitching strong, but couldn't get any help from his defense early. The Tigers ga￼ffed on a couple easy plays in the first inning that led to two early runs without a single hard-hit ball. Zimmermann continued to put up zeros until the fourth inning, when he suddenly lost his feel. He gave up three runs on five consecutive hard-hit balls (four fell for hits) before recovering to get out of the inning. He then found his earlier self and breezed through the next two innings without giving up a hit, putting himself in life for the win.
But oh, that bullpen. Going into the ninth clinging to a 1 run lead, closer Francisco Rodriguez walked the leadoff batter. He then gave up a double to put runners on second and third with no one out. Following an intentional walk, Rodriguez would get a check swing strikeout of Steven Souza for the first out. Logan Morrison then hit a sure double play ground ball to second, but the Tigers couldn’t turn two. Jose Iglesias slipped and threw wildly to Cabrera, and the winning runs crossed the plate.
Nicholas Castellanos: He hit a triple in his first at-bat, then delivered a bases-clearing triple in the sixth on a misplayed line drive by Kevin Kiermaier.
Justin Wilson: Another day, another hitless inning for the Tiger’s setup man. Wilson now has pitched 7 1⁄3 hitless, scoreless innings on the year with three walks and 11 punchouts.
Defense: The first ball put in play by the Rays was a lazy fly ball that fell harmlessly between JaCoby Jones and Tyler Collins. Miscommunication between the two led both to pull up short and give Corey Dickerson a gift leadoff double. The Rays would then score their first run off an infield dribbler to Nick Castellanos, who couldn't make a play for any out and chose to hang onto the ball. In the third inning, a fly ball barely into left-center also dropped, as Ian Kinsler mysteriously veered off from the path. Neither Jones nor Collins were in position to make the play. The last play of the game saw one of the most sure-handed double play combinations in baseball flub, as Jose Iglesias throw wildly after stumbling, allowing the winning runs to score.
Bunting: In the top of the sixth with the first two runners on base, Jones popped up a bunt to Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, who smartly let the ball drop after Jones hesitated out of the box. This left the runners hung out to dry for an easy double play. Worse yet, reliever Danny Farquhar had not yet thrown a strike in the inning.
NEVER BUNT— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 20, 2017
Bullpen: Same old story: tight game, key guys struggle. Alex Wilson gave up rockets left and right, but escaped only allowing one run. Francisco Rodriguez loaded the bases with no one out to start the ninth. He would go to a 3-2 count on Souza before getting a questionable called third strike from home plate umpire Larry Vanover. He did induce what should have been a game-ending double play, but it was not to be, and his poor outing cost the Tigers a much-needed win.
STATS AND INFO:
- The Tigers consecutive home run streak came to an end tonight. They set a franchise record with home runs in the first 13 games but finished 1 shy of tying the 2002 Cleveland Indians who opened with 14 staright games with a long ball.
- The two triples by #Blastellanos marked the first two triple game by a Tigers players since Austin Jackson hit a pair on August 5th, 2012, and the first by a Tigers third baseman since Travis Fryman did it in the 1994 season.