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Tigers 4, Astros 5: Cabrera, Gardenhire ejections spark almost-rally, near-non-loss

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A closer game never felt so far away.

Miguel Cabrera makes crybaby gesture at ump as he leaves due to ejection
Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera delivers a sign from the dugout.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of Tigers home runs after some ejection drama made for a close game, but the Houston Astros rode 14 strikeouts to edge out a win in Texas, 5-4.

Newly re-acquired Detroit starter Edwin Jackson came in sporting a 2.38 ERA with the Tigers in 11 13 innings against the Royals and Mariners, two teams notable for not being the Astros. Houston’s elite offense would be a sure test for the journeyman pitcher, leading Rob to ask how much further the Edwin Jackson rabbit hole would go.

Tonight, five innings. Jackson struggled early, allowing three earned runs on 34 pitches in the first. Still, his cutter-slider repertoire managed to keep Houston’s lineup guessing, generating six swinging strikeouts against a squad boasting a league-best 18.1% K-rate. Jackson left the game having thrown 108 pitches, leaving the Tigers bats to make up a three-run deficit.

Ron Gardenhire’s squad opened the night with four consecutive singles keyed by a leadoff bunt, and it seemed for a moment that an early-decade Twins game had broken out. But the 2019 Tigers promptly reasserted themselves, scoring only one run in the top of the frame and giving up four in the bottom. The Tigers continued to nip at Astros starter Wade Miley, scattering singles throughout the first five innings with scant results.

Somehow in the middle of all this, Miguel Cabrera managed to get ejected from the dugout in the bottom of the fifth inning while Houston was at bat, and barely anyone noticed until Gardenhire came out to defend his designated hitter. Both were tossed, and Cabrera couldn’t resist flashing a “crybaby” sign at home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez on his way out.

He must have flipped the power back on as he left for the clubhouse. Ronny Rodriguez broke Detroit’s extra-base-hit drought in the sixth, belting a monstrous solo home run to left center field, far above the 404-foot mark on the wall to cut the Astros’ lead to two. An inning later, Travis Demeritte followed with a solo shot of his own, bringing the Tigers within one run.

Detroit threatened with two outs in the eighth, when Jordy Mercer’s walk and Victor Reyes’ broken-bat bloop just over the reach of Jose Altuve at second base put runners at the corner for the hot-hitting Demeritte. But the Atlanta import had no more heroics to give, striking out to end the threat. Brandon Dixon hit a sharp line-drive double to right field with one out in the ninth, but Astros closer Roberto Osuna struck out the next two to close out the save.