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Marlins 5, Tigers 2: Disastrous ninth inning hands Tigers yet another loss

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The Tigers’ ongoing losing streak continued (we’ve stopped counting at this point) on Thursday.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Greene blows his first save of the season (on a grand slam, no less), the Tigers manage only two runs off 11 hits, another stellar Matthew Boyd outing is wasted, and Miami sweeps Detroit in Motown. Tigers lose, 5-2, extending their losing streak to nine, maybe, depending what the future holds.

Another day, another strong outing from Tigers ace Matthew Boyd. Boyd pitched six clean innings, allowing zero runs on five hits and zero walks while punching out seven. Boyd entered today with the second-highest fWAR in all of baseball (1.9), tied with five other pitchers, and today’s outing assuredly boosted that figure. Sure, the Marlins put a runner in scoring position in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, but Boyd quieted each threat, even overcoming a bases-loaded threat in the fourth inning that came up due to a Gordon Beckham error.

Blaine Hardy, meanwhile, pitched a relatively quiet seventh inning, surrendering one hit before forcing a double play and a ground out to end the inning, while Joe Jimenez pitched a clean one-two-three inning in the eighth inning, making quick work of the heart of the Marlins’ lineup. (The heart of the Marlins lineup, by the way, was comprised of Garrett Cooper, Brian Anderson, and Starlin Castro today. I just want to point out that we lost a series at home to this team.)

Now for the part you came here for. Up 2-0 entering the ninth inning, Shane Greene had the opportunity to close out a game for the first time in ages.

Oh, boy.

Things didn’t start off well, as a Dawel Lugo error put Harold Ramirez on first base with nobody out. Ramirez then turned into an unearned run (Martin Prado advanced him to second base and Neil Walker drove him in).

2-1, Tigers.

Greene proceeded to walk Jorge Alfaro on four pitches to put the tying run on second base with only one out. From there, Miguel Rojas grounded out to second baseman Ronny Rodriguez, leaving runners at the corners. The Tigers challenged that Rojas was out at first, but were unsuccessful in their challenge. So, you can already see where this is going.

This set the stage for a dramatic at-bat: Shane Greene versus former Tiger great turned Marlins pinch-hitter, Curtis Granderson. Greene threw his first two pitches high and away to Granderson, setting up a 2-0 count. Meanwhile, Rojas stole second base, setting up runners at second and third base. After the steal, the Tigers issued an intentional walk to Granderson. So, it wasn’t the fun and dramatic at-bat it could have been. You would think this means game over for Miami, as the Marlins selected Garrett Cooper, a guy with a .150 average, as their two-hole hitter today. Wrong. Grand slam.

Shane Greene’s final line: 1 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HR. And he lowered his ERA to 1.29, baby!

Ahem, anyways. Today was not a slow day for the Tigers’ bats (11 hits), but man, did they struggle to score. The Tigers threatened but did not score three times in the first five innings today before breaking through for, well, one run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. In the eighth inning, as Niko Goodrum, Nicholas Castellanos, and Miguel Cabrera strung together three consecutive singles to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead, but even then Detroit only managed one additional run. And of course, they went down without a fight in the ninth inning against Marlins closer Sergio Romo. Some things never change.

The Good

Matthew Boyd continues to pitch exceptionally well and enhance his trade value. Niko Goodrum, Nicholas Castellanos, and Miguel Cabrera combined to go 7-for-11 while producing the only two runs of the game for Detroit. Joe Jimenez pitched a one-two-three inning. And Brandon Dixon went 2-for-4 and sits at a .291 average (not bad for a team that primarily sits below the Mendoza line).

The Bad

The Tigers failed to capitalize on scoring threats throughout the game, scoring just two runs on eleven hits. Part of the responsibility falls on Dave Clark, who made a poor decision in the second inning when he sent Christin Stewart home (Stewart was tagged out to end the inning).

The Ugly

I mean, Garrett Cooper hitting a grand slam to extend the losing streak sucks. So does Shane Greene blowing a crucial save. But Dawel Lugo’s ninth inning error set the tone for Greene’s tumultuous outing, and it’s the reason Greene gave up five runs but zero earned runs. Meanwhile, Lugo’s 0-for-3 day has dropped his average to — wait for it — .105. Meanwhile, Willi Castro is slashing .324/.405/.490 in Triple-A Toledo entering today (in fairness to Lugo, he was slashing .341/.393/.468 in Toledo before his call-up, but Willi Castro is an above-average fielder). So, yeah.

The Tigers are set to travel to Citi Field to play the New York Mets, who earned a four-game sweep against the struggling Washington Nationals today after being swept by the Marlins last weekend. Afterward, they will travel to Camden Yard to play the miserable Baltimore Orioles. If they don’t end this losing streak in the next six games, buckle up.