The Tigers pitchers repeatedly got themselves into their usual trouble with Cleveland’s lineup, but for the most part, they fought back and limited the damage. A late bullpen meltdown spelled doom for Cleveland, rather than the Detroiters, who pulled away with an eighth inning rally to win 6-4.
The Tigers started things off on a good foot, building a lead for starter Wily Peralta in the first two innings. With two outs, and a crowd just shy of 33 thousand cheering him on, Miguel Cabrera singled sharply in the bottom of the first. He then got to jog the bases anyway as Jeimer Candelario went opposite field for him ninth home run of the season.
In the bottom of the second, a Willi Castro one-out single got things going again. Castro stole second base on former Tigers’ catcher Wilson Ramos, and scored on a flare to right field that dropped for a single off the bat of Victor Reyes.
Wily Peralta’s magic, if short, run of success is becoming a distant memory. The right-hander struggled with his command for most of his outing on Saturday, turning to heavy doses of his splitter to bail himself out of several jams.
Holding a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning, Peralta walked Ramos to lead off the frame. Oscar Mercado doubled into the left field corner and the ball briefly got away from Willi Castro—who made his first MLB start at the position—allowed Ramos to ramble home all the way from first. Peralta did battle back, however, and struck out the next three hitters to escape any further trouble.
He had to wiggle out of a jam in the third after Myles Straw led off with a double and Bradley Zimmer followed with a single. Peralta induced back-to-back shallow fly balls, one to Castro, and one to Robbie Grossman in right field. Both times, they got behind the ball and were able to hold Straw at third base. Franmil Reyes flew out to right to end the inning.
The Tigers came back with another run in the bottom of the fourth to extend the lead to three runs. Zack Short’s RBI single to center field scored Willi Castro, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and then stole second base again. With two singles and two walks in the inning, they would’ve liked to get more, and as it turned out, they would need more.
Myles Straw led off the fifth with a walk, and stole second base as Zimmer struck out. Unfortunately, Jose Ramirez then tripled to drive in Straw, and a Reyes single scored Ramirez. In the span of 10 pitches, the lead was down to one.
At that point, Hinch turned to Kyle Funkhouser, who struck out Ramos and got Mercado on a grounder to end the threat. Funkhouser went on to issue a pair of one-out walks in the sixth, but after a visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter, he settled down to get a double-play ball off Straw’s bat and handled by Zack Short to end the threat.
The Tigers went pretty quietly in the bottom of the sixth, and AJ Hinch turned to Jose Cisnero in the seventh. It was an atypical outing for the big right-hander. Cisnero had allowed just four earned runs total since May 11th, but he got into trouble here as Zimmer led off with a bunt and then Ramirez doubled up the right center field gap to move Zimmer to third. Things looked grim, but Cisnero bounced back, striking out Reyes. Zimmer scored to tie the game on a Ramos ground out, but Mercado lined out to right field to end the threat.
The Tigers went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, and so it was Michael Fulmer time. Yu Chang initially beat out an infield single to lead off the frame, but the call was overturned. Fulmer then walked Andres Gimenez, but bounced back well. He dialed up a flurry of fearsome low-90’s sliders again, striking out Ernie Clement and then Straw to end the inning.
And that meant it was Miguel Cabrera time. Facing a reliever in Bryan Shaw with whom Cabrera has a long history, but has never homered against, the timing seemed ripe in a tie game. Unfortunately, Shaw nibbled around him—drawing unprintable complaints and a lengthy castigation of both his genealogy and character from my 74-year-old father—and ultimately walked Cabrera in his final at-bat of the day.
Jacob Robson came in to pinch run, and Candelario singled to center on a broken bat flare. Renato Nuñez drilled a liner to center, and the bases were loaded. Leave it to Eric Haase to unload them. The hard-hitting catcher flipped the softest of bloops into shallow left field, and both Robson and Candelario scored to make it 6-4 Tigers. The fans accepted this gift in lieu of #500 and roared their approval anyway. Shaw wild pitched Nuñez over to third, and Haase to second, but Willi Castro struck out and Victor Reyes grounded out to end the threat.
That meant Gregory Soto time. The Tigers trusty ninth inning flamethrower had no trouble going 1-2-3 for his 15th save of the year. With the victory, the Tigers reclaimed a share of second place with Cleveland. RHP Drew Hutchison is expected to be called up from Toledo to start Sunday’s game against Cleveland RHP Triston McKenzie. Reliever Buck Farmer has been designated for assignment after tonight’s game to open a spot for Hutchison.
Well, Cabrera had a sharp single and drew a walk in his four plate appearances. He was hit by a pitch, drawing howls of protest from the big crowd, and his fly ball to center in the third was hit hard enough to get everyone excited for a moment, but Straw tracked it down well short of the warning track.
Chris Ilitch is happy for him to drag this out as long as possible.