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Red Sox 7, Tigers 5: Bruce Rondon’s 8th-inning implosion proves costly

Daniel Norris was on fire but his efforts were awash when the bullpen forgot to do its job.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Norris’ first start of the year was smooth. Unfortunately for the Detroit Tigers, the bullpen didn’t follow suit. Despite Detroit’s offense continually fighting to maintain a close lead, Bruce Rondon and Kyle Ryan coughed it all up in the eighth for a 7-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox despite a ninth-inning comeback attempt.

It took Norris a couple of innings to settle down, but once he did, the Red Sox just couldn’t get to him. He was liberal with his breaking pitches, and his curveball had a nice bite to it. On a swinging strikeout of Dustin Pedroia, Norris’ changeup had him swinging so hard he collapsed awkwardly at the plate. The difference in him finishing with three versus two earned runs on the day was due to a hit he gave up in the seventh to end his day at 97 pitches.

The offense, meanwhile, had an active tit-for-tat going for much of the game, and took the lead for the fourth time in the game on a monster blast by Nicholas Castellanos in the bottom of the seventh. Miguel Cabrera, who had also gotten off to a silent start, finally broke through and had a two-hit day, along with Ian Kinsler’s two-RBI day that made the difference in the game.

At least, that was the story until Bruce Rondon got a hold of the eighth. He managed to load the bases and get yanked without recording an out. Manager Brad Ausmus called on Kyle Ryan to clean up Rondon’s mess, and he couldn’t do the job. All three runs scored and then allowed his own to put the Red Sox up 7-4. What should have been a close but quality win for the Tigers turned into a bullpen disaster.

ROARS:

Ian Kinsler: Had to quality knocks against Porcello on Sunday. Both resulted in runs scored and his defense was on point. He also walked in the ninth.

Daniel Norris: Retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced and gave up three runs in 613 innings of work. He would have had two but Alex Wilson gave up an RBI single after a two-minute review on an inning-ending double play was overturned.

Nicholas Castellanos: Went and blasted a dinger over the bullpens to put the Tigers ahead 4-3 in the seventh inning. He’d also singled in the first and had two hard-hit flyouts to center.

HISSES:

Bruce Rondon: Walked the first batter he saw, singled the next, and intentionally walked Mitch Moreland (5-for-11 with three doubles and a walk in the series vs. the Tigers) to load the bases. All three eventually scored.

Kyle Ryan: It wasn’t his mess, but he inherited it anyway and needed to get the outs. He couldn’t, and gave up the Tigers’ 4-3 lead.

STREAKS AND INFO:

  • Daniel Norris’ caught stealing of Dustin Pedroia was the first of his major league career.
  • Miguel Cabrera ended his 0-for-12 skid to start the season with a single to right against former Tiger Rick Porcello in the first inning. It marked the longest hitless streak to begin a season in his career.
  • Kinsler has some serious moves.
  • Norris now has an active MLB-best 20 straight starts with three or fewer earned runs. He hasn't given up four or more since Aug. 7, 2015 vs. the Red Sox when he allowed five earned runs.
  • Rondon has given up six runs, three walks, and three hits in two appearances that span a mere one-third of an inning (he failed to record an out on Sunday). He hasn’t looked effective at all this year — including spring training — and it shows.
  • What initially looked like an inning-ending double play was reversed after a two-minute review in the seventh. Andrew Benintendi managed to knock an RBI single but was cut down trying to advance to second.