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Mariners 9, Tigers 6: Offense can’t make up for pitching

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The Tigers get swept in a 4-game series as Daniel Norris and Francisco Rodriquez dug too deep a hole

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In a game where the Detroit Tigers had the opportunity to salvage one win of a four game series, the offense woke up late, but the pitching couldn’t hold up its end of the deal. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the offense, facing Seattle Mariners pitcher Andrew Moore in his first ever major league start, put up a modest three runs. They failed to seize the opportunity to jump all over a young inexperienced pitcher, and Daniel Norris struggled with his command all night on the way to a 9-6 loss.

The Tigers opened the first inning in a mostly uneventful fashion, although catcher Alex Avila was kind enough to participate in Andrew Moore’s first career strikeout on his way to a clean inning. Tigers starter Daniel Norris followed suit in the bottom half of the frame.

The top of the second saw Nicholas Castellanos rip a gapper to left center, but nothing else came of the inning for the Detroit offense. Norris’s command issues showed up in the bottom of the second when he offered lead-off hitter Nelson Cruz three pitches Vladimir Guerrero wouldn’t swing at on the way to a walk. Norris put another runner on as Trevor Thompson discussed the finer points of the SafeCo field roof. Did you know it closes at a rate of 60 feet-per-minute, or just speedy enough to get from first to third faster than Victor Martinez? With two runners on, Ben Gamel and his glorious hair hit a double, scoring two runs. He came around to score on a Guillermo Heredia single before Norris would get out of the inning down three runs.

In the third, Ian Kinsler tried to get things going with a no-doubt homer to left field that brought the score to 3-1. Alex Avila in a valiant attempt to join the party, flew out to the deep part of left center for the third out of the inning. In Seattle’s half, Mitch Haniger singled, and Seattle played a little game of our second baseman can do it too, as Robinson Cano hit a round tripper that brought the score to 5-1.

After a scoreless fourth inning, the Detroit offense rumbled to life in the fifth. Castellanos opened with a single and moved to third on a one-out double by John Hicks. A ground out by Jose Iglesias scored Nick, and a Kinsler single brought Hicks home. After Kinsler’s third steal of the series put runners on second and third, Alex Avila popped out to end the inning, and the Tigers would be down 5-3.

Daniel Norris settled down a tad, and with some good fortune managed to string together a few scoreless innings as things stayed quiet on both sides until the bottom of the seventh. This was the point where Brad Ausmus boldly proclaimed, “I REFUSE TO WIN THIS GAME” and brought in Francisco Rodriquez. Frankie, not being one to blow things up in a boring way, creatively loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch, a single, and a walk. He then extended the gift of grand slam to Robinson Cano, and Cano, not wanting to seem ungrateful, accepted. The inning closed with the score at 9-3, Seattle.

They played two more innings of baseball. It involved the bullpens of both teams. Miguel Cabrera followed an Avila double with a home run in the eighth to bring the score to 9-5, and Justin Upton later drove in J.D. Martinez to make it 9-6, which would have given the Tigers a one run lead in a world where Ausmus could have figured out how to trot out a better option than K-Rod. After a Mariners pitching change, the Tigers ended the eighth with the tying run at the plate. Chad Bell handled the bottom of the eighth and benefitted from a timely double play to get out of the inning.

Steve Cishek came out to close the door, mercifully ending what by all accounts has been a terrible trip to Seattle for the Tigers.

GIBBY GROWLS:

In honor of the latest in a series of Kirk Gibson interactions with Mario Impemba that have helped Gibby grow on me as an announcer, our Roars have been changed to Gibby Growls.

Ian Kinsler: His second inning home run was the highlight of a 2-for-5 evening

Miguel Cabrera: Miggy also showed up going 2-for-4 with a homer of his own.

Nick Castellanos: Nick had a solid outing going 2-for-3 with a walk.

Alex Avila: He may have only gone 1-for-4, but the work he did snagging a lot of off-target pitches from Daniel Norris earns the Gibby Growl.

HISSES:

Daniel Norris: He settled in over his last three innings, but never really found his command. Getting tagged for five runs in the first five innings isn’t what this team needed

Francisco Rodriguez: The reasons here are self evident.

STATS AND INFO:

  • Ian Kinsler hit three home runs and stole three bases in the series.
  • With the loss, the Tigers planted the flag of despair firmly in the soil of the cellar of the AL Central for the first time since 2015.
  • This is the first four-game sweep the Tigers have allowed since 2015, and the first they have given up to Seattle since 1998.