Lockdown pitching was the order of the day as the Rays won their first game of the extended weekend series in Detroit, 3-2.
Shoulder inflammation? What shoulder inflammation? Michael Fulmer came out hot, with the fastball frequently touching 97 and even 98. Maybe there was a bit of rust to start the game, as he walked one in each of the first two innings, and ended up walking four. A minor quibble, however: through the first four innings, and with the help of some double plays, he faced one over the minimum. He effectively mixed his fastball and slider throughout the game, and featured his changeup to great effect.
Strikeouts continued to be Chris Archer’s forte, getting both Miguel Cabrera and Justin Upton in the first inning. After throwing a lot of pitches in that inning, Archer settled down and got considerably more efficient. Obviously, that’s not what the Tigers had hoped for.
For the second straight day, Mallex Smith got burned by a baserunning blunder: Yesterday he was caught stealing at home on a pickoff throw to first, today he got trapped off first after Alex Avila threw behind him. He also had a bit of an interesting day in the field — there’s some talent there, but perhaps a little more minor-league seasoning is necessary.
The game stayed scoreless until the fifth, when Colby Rasmus doubled with one out, and Daniel Robertson drove him in with single after a walk to Tim Beckham. With runners on second and third, Fulmer limited the damage with a strikeout and a groundout.
In the bottom of the inning, Andrew Romine singled and advanced to second on a groundout. It was beginning to look rather grim for Detroit until Ian Kinsler tied the game with a two-out double to the left-field corner, scoring Romine.
After Fulmer set down the Rays in the top of the sixth on nine crisp pitches for a total of 81 in the game, Miguel Cabrera turned Archer’s first offering of the bottom of the sixth around and placed it in the right-center seats to put the Tigers up 2-1.
The Rays came right back in the seventh with a walk, two groundouts and an infield hit to second to draw even. (Could it have been scored an error on Kinsler instead? Perhaps.) Fulmer departed with two outs; Alex Wilson entered and gave up a run-scoring single to Smith to put Tampa up 3-2.
Jumbo Diaz, who lives up to his name, came on for Archer to start the bottom of the seventh and allowed a walk to Avila, but no more. Shane Greene countered with an equally uneventful top of the eighth.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Upton scorched a liner off Beckham’s glove at short, and hustled his way to second. Tampa manager Kevin Cash had seen enough, and summoned closer Alex Colomé to face Presley and subsequently strike him out. Nicholas Castellanos came in on his day off — haven’t we all? — to pinch-hit for Andrew Romine. Nothing doing.
Francisco Rodriguez came into the game to start the ninth and ... well, he actually did alright, giving up a single but no runs. Mikie Mahtook led off with an infield single to third, Iglesias sacrificed him to second, but Kinsler popped up to left for the second out. Mahtook stole third to get him that much closer to tying the game, but Avila grounded out to end it. Can’t say they didn’t make it interesting, though.
Michael Fulmer: Pitched a solid 6 2/3 innings, scattering six hits and four walks. I personally charge that third run to Kinsler.
Miguel Cabrera: Is the real (albeit slightly hurt) Miggy back? He led off the sixth with a solo homer, so let’s hope so.
Shane Greene and Francisco Rodriguez: They kept the Tigers in this one.
Victor Martinez: For getting out of the hospital. Get well soon!
J.D. Martinez: He went 0-3 (albeit with a walk). C’mon, man, you’re in the four-hole for a reason.
Jose Iglesias: Same sort of thing: 0-3 (albeit with a sacrifice bunt).
STATISTICS AND NOTES
- In 22 games from May 21 through June 14, Miguel Cabrera had no home runs. He’s had two in his past three, plus a pair of doubles for good measure.
- Alex Wilson allowed his fourth inherited runner this year (out of 13) to score. That’s 31 percent ... is that a lot? It seems like a lot to me.
- From his May 5 start through today’s, Chris Archer has struck out 85 in 59 innings. Impressive.
- Jumbo Diaz is the first person in Major League Baseball with that first name since Jumbo Brown retired in 1941. Brown was no slouch at 6’4, 295. (N.B. neither player’s actual first name is Jumbo.)