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Astros 7, Tigers 6: Justin Verlander’s struggles continue as Detroit drops series

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Verlander gave up six runs in a game the Tigers would like to have back.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers had plenty of chances to earn a hard-fought series split against the Houston Astros, but could not capitalize. A rough outing from Justin Verlander and a few too many mistakes resulted in a 7-6 loss on getaway day in Houston.

The Tigers threatened early and often in this game against Astros starter Mike Fiers. Miguel Cabrera doubled with two outs in the first inning, but was thrown out at home plate after a sharp single by Victor Martinez to end the frame. The Tigers got on the board in the second, when J.D. Martinez scored from second on a Justin Upton RBI single. Upton would eventually make it to third before getting stranded.

The Tigers stretched their lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning. J.D. Martinez hit a towering solo home run off Fiers, his former college teammate. James McCann was hit on the left wrist with a pitch later in the inning, and was replaced by Alex Avila. Jose Iglesias drove Avila home later in the inning with a double into the left field corner, but an Ian Kinsler pop-up would strand two more Tigers runners.

Those runners left on base would eventually come back to bite the Tigers. Verlander, who had cruised through his first three innings, gave up three home runs in a five-run fourth inning for Houston. Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez, and Juan Centeno provided the fireworks to give the Astros their first lead.

The Tigers struck back with a run in the fifth, but shot themselves in the foot once again. With two on and no out, Victor Martinez hit a sharp line drive straight at Marwin Gonzalez. Tyler Collins was caught unaware, and was doubled off at second base. The Tigers managed a two-out rally with hits from J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton, but Collins’ gaffe limited them to just one run. To make matters worse, Verlander allowed another Astros run in the bottom of the frame, resetting the score at 6-4, Houston.

For the third game in a row, the Tigers were unfazed by Houston’s vaunted bullpen. Upton homered off Will Harris in the seventh inning to cut Houston’s lead to one run, then Luke Gregerson allowed a game-tying RBI double to Jose Iglesias in the eighth.

Unfortunately, it would not be enough. The Tigers stranded two more runners in the eighth, bringing their total to 10 for the game. Alex Wilson allowed a solo home run to Jake Marisnick in the bottom of the eighth, giving Houston a slim 7-6 win.

ROARS:

  • J.D. Martinez: He hit a home run, narrowly missed a second, and scored a pair of runs in the losing effort.
  • Miguel Cabrera: He wasn’t always rewarded, but Cabrera was hitting rockets all over the ballpark. A lineout to Jose Altuve in the third inning resulted in another unnecessary double play — this one was Ian Kinsler’s fault — and he hit a deep fly ball to center in the sixth.
  • Justin Upton: The Tigers’ left fielder broke out of a slump with three hits, including a solo home run in the seventh. Upton drove in a pair of runs and was stranded in scoring position twice.

HISSES:

  • Justin Verlander: This was a bad start for Verlander, particularly when his team needed it the most. He looked decent through the first few innings, but things fell apart quickly after that. He gave up six runs on nine hits (including three home runs), and only pitched 5 23 innings the day before a doubleheader.
  • Tyler Collins: His defense continues to be subpar at best, and a baserunning blunder in the fifth inning cost the Tigers a huge run. He also popped out with a runner on third base and one out in the eighth inning, when the Tigers had a chance to take the lead.