After pulling off the single most miraculous upset in Las Vegas betting odds in 2019 by beating the best pitcher in the American League, the Tigers took on the second best pitcher in the American League in Gerrit Cole on Thursday night. Like Justin Verlander on Wednesday, Cole only allowed two hits. The Tigers mustered up a solid roar in the ninth by scoring three runs, but it sadly wasn’t enough as they dropped the series finale 6-3 against the Astros.
Jordan Zimmermann, coming off five scoreless innings against Tampa Bay, started for Detroit. Zimmermann, while not as sharp this time around, gave the Tigers another quality outing. After getting through his first three frames unscathed, trouble struck in the fourth. Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double to center field, and then Alex Bregman, who the Tigers had largely kept quiet this season, hit a line shot into the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field to put the Astros up 2-0. Zimmermann would depart after five innings having allowed two runs on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
Gregory Soto came on in the sixth and allowed a run, but the wheels really fell off for the Tigers in seventh. David McKay, who had allowed only one run in five innings since coming over from Seattle, allowed the first three Astros to reach base before Ron Gardenhire came out to get him. Lefty Nick Ramirez came on to face the lefty Brantley who promptly singled to score Josh Reddick and George Springer. With one out, Yuli Gurriel singled to right field to score Jose Altuve and put Houston up 6-0.
The offense of the Tigers was overpowered by an absolutely dominant Cole who utilized his high-octane fastball to strikeout 12 over seven shut out innings. In the eighth, side-armer Joe Smith came on as a total change of pace from Cole, but the Tigers weren’t able to adjust and went one-two-three.
After being recalled from Triple-A this afternoon, Joe Biagini came on for Houston in the ninth to close out a 6-0 game. With one out, Harold Castro hit a seeing-eye single to right field to set the table for Wednesday night’s hero John Hicks. Hicks, pinch hitting for Miguel Cabrera, connected on the first pitch he saw and hit a no-doubt, bat-flippin’ bomb over the concourse in left-center field. Niko “never say die” Goodrum followed and hit a home run into the bullpen in right field to crack the door open for the Tigers.
Biagini then allowed a two-out walk to Travis Demeritte to prompt A.J. Hinch to bring on his closer Roberto Osuna. Osuna proceeded to walk the free-swinging Ronny Rodriguez on four pitches, which brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Dawel Lugo. In a 1-1 count, Lugo sent a deep drive to right field that forced Reddick’s back up against the wall, but he was able to stick his glove just above the fence to make the catch and seal the deal for the Astros.
The Tigers will look to shake-off a tough series in Houston Friday night in Minneapolis as they start a three-game series against the AL Central leading Minnesota Twins. Drew VerHagen gets the nod against Jose Berrios with first pitch scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET.