The Detroit Tigers lost their Sunday night rubber match against the Texas Rangers, 5-2. Rangers starter Yu Darvish was a little shakier than expected, but still did enough to earn his fifth win of the season. Matt Boyd gave up four runs in 5 1⁄3 innings and picked up his fourth loss of 2017. Since I don’t want to relive a game that already took way too long to complete, we’re going to try something a little different with tonight’s recap.
The defense is still a problem
Just in case you thought they had settled, the Tigers’ defensive issues reared their ugly head again on Sunday night. After the teams traded runs in the first inning, Nomar Mazara hit a tailing liner to left field in the second. Justin Upton tried to make a sliding catch but missed badly, and Mazara raced to third. He then scored on a single by Robinson Chirinos in the next at-bat. Had Upton stayed on his feet, Mazara is likely held to a single.
Later that inning, Ian Kinsler and J.D. Martinez miscommunicated on a routine pop-up to right field. The ball dropped, and Delino DeShields reached base. Luckily, the miscue did not result in more runs. Elvis Andrus hit another pop-up to the same area on the next pitch, and Kinsler camped under it for the final out of the inning.
For good measure, Andrew Romine made a mental error later in the game. With the bases loaded and one out, Romine threw home on what would have been a routine double play ball. The throw was somewhat high, but a quick turn by James McCann helped the Tigers end the inning. While it did not cost the Tigers anything, it was another miscue that should not have occurred.
The starting pitching needs to get better
Allowing four runs in 5 1⁄3 innings isn’t the end of the world, especially when this type of outing comes from your presumed fifth starter. However, Matt Boyd allowed 12 hits on the evening, and wiggled out of trouble time and again to keep the game within striking distance. He allowed a pair of backbreaking home runs to Mike Napoli and Pete Kozma, giving Texas a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish.
Unfortunately, this has been a consistent theme for the Tigers this year. Heading into Sunday’s game, the Tigers ranked 13th in the American League with a 4.58 ERA. They have a below average strikeout rate and the league’s third-highest walk rate. Were it not for the league’s third-lowest home run rate — or the continued dominance of one Michael Fulmer — they might be even worse off than they already are.
Yu Darvish is really good
The Tigers did well to create traffic on the bases in the early innings. They loaded the bases in the first inning, and put at least two runners on base in three of Darvish’s five innings. They scored a pair of runs and knocked Darvish out of the game after 105 pitches.
Unfortunately, just putting runners on bases isn’t good enough against one of the stingiest pitchers in baseball. Darvish has held opponents to just three hits with runners in scoring position this season, including one in this game. Only two pitchers (minimum 500 innings) have allowed a lower batting average against since Darvish arrived in the majors. That the Tigers could not capitalize against Darvish with runners on base is frustrating, but not the least bit surprising. He is very good, and the Tigers were supposed to lose this game.
Alex Avila should be the team’s new No. 2 hitter
That is all.
Miguel Cabrera: He collected three hits, an RBI, and some well-deserved praise from the ESPN broadcasters.
*Average* season. Good lord. pic.twitter.com/ur0p8PikWJ— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 22, 2017
Shane Greene: Coming into a game with a runner on first base isn’t even close to the worst jam he has seen this season, but Greene still deserves credit for stranding DeShields with a pair of strikeouts to end the sixth inning.
J.D. Martinez: He has been a human fire emoji since coming off the disabled list, but went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in this game. His strikeout against Sam Dyson with Miguel Cabrera in scoring position in the seventh was especially painful.
Nick Castellanos: See above. Castellanos had an opportunity to plate some runs in the first inning, but chased a number of pitches outside the strike zone before grounding out weakly to Darvish.
Tyler Collins: He should not be the Tigers’ starting center fielder.