Thursday night’s Detroit Tigers’ game was an emotional roller coaster.
Miguel Cabrera continued to add to his legacy, the pitching dominated up until the final inning and the offense was listless until they went down to their final strike.
They ended the night, though, with a 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros.
It didn’t take Houston long to take the lead. On the first pitch Tarik Skubal threw, Jose Altuve, the home team’s leadoff hitter, took the lefty deep to left field, giving the Astros an immediate 1-0 advantage.
Talk about a rough start.
Standout rookie Jeremy Pena added another run in the fifth inning with another solo shot, but it ended up being only insurance in their 2-0 win.
Otherwise, Skubal was excellent for the Tigers yet again. He threw six innings, allowing two runs on six hits. The 25-year-old punched out nine Astros and walked none. He got 15 swinging strikes for a chase rate of 29%. Here are a few of them:
Detroit fans held their collective breath when he was visited by Tigers’ trainer Doug Teter in the third inning after picking off Jose Altuve and running him back to second for the out, but the budding ace stayed in the game.
Wily Peralta pitched two innings in relief, getting six outs without a hit and one walk. He punched out two batters, extending his scoreless inning streak to 8 1⁄3 to start the season out of the bullpen.
Houston starting pitcher Jose Urquidy entered the night with an ERA approaching 6.00. But, as has been the case for most of the 2022 season, the Detroit offense couldn’t get going against him.
There is reason to celebrate, though. With a line drive single to center field in the bottom of the fourth inning, Cabrera tied Tiger legend Al Kaline for 31st most hits all-time at 3,007. It was his second hit of the night.
Five innings later, he surpassed the Hall of Famer with a 103 mph rocket past Pena’s glove.
The team released a statement from the late Kaline’s wife, Louise, commemorating Miggy’s accomplishment.
Statement from Louise Kaline on behalf of the Kaline family: pic.twitter.com/FpsuuAYl6Q— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) May 6, 2022
Miggy now stands alone in 31st place all-time with 3,008 hits.
Unfortunately, the hits weren’t cashed into runs... until the ninth inning.
After Cabrera’s second single, Jeimer Candelario sent an off-speed pitch from Houston closer Ryan Pressly into the right field bleachers to tie the game at two.
If there were ever an at-bat that could break the third baseman out of his rocky first month, this could be it.
Had they scored any of their previous eight base runners in the innings prior, it could have put them ahead. Robbie Grossman was stranded in the first, Harold Castro in the second, Tucker Barnhart and Akil Baddoo in the fifth and Willi Castro — who pinch ran for Cabrera — in the ninth. Jeimer Candelario and Spencer Torkelson hit into double plays and Baddoo was caught stealing.
There were only two innings — the sixth and eighth — in which Detroit didn’t get at least one runner on base. But they went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left five runners on base. Ironically, the only three Tigers who didn’t record a hit from the starting lineup were their three RBI leaders — Javier Baez, Austin Meadows and Torkelson.
Gregory Soto took over in the ninth inning in attempt to send the game to extra innings. Yordan Alvarez led off with a walk-off home run... at least in his own mind. The left-handed slugger smoked a ball high off the wall in deep left-center, but it ended up being only a single because Alvarez admired the ball for its entire trip. He was instantly replaced with a pinch-runner.
It didn’t matter. Soto walked Yuli Gurriel immediately after to move the runner up, and Kyle Tucker sent a dribbler through the left side of the infield to drive in the game-winning run.
Soto failed to get an out, allowing two hits and one walk to the teeth of the Astros’ offense. It’s especially disappointing because of Candelario’s unexpected heroics along with the bullpen — and Soto especially — having been major strengths during the young season.
The Tigers have now lost eight of their last 10 games.
The loss drops the Tigers to an ugly 8-16 mark in 2022. They’ll once again look to break their schneid on Friday night when Beau Brieske faces Houston’s Luis Garcia.