With Wayne State University grad and Justin Verlander prototype Hunter Brown going for the Astros on Tuesday, this was going to be a tough job. Things turned out rather as expected. The Tigers played a decent game on a beautiful late summer evening, but were just outclassed again as the Astros took the second straight in Comerica Park by a score of 6-3.
Drew Hutchison got the assignment to handle the Astros in this one, and apart from one pitch in the third, did a solid job of it. Yordan Alvarez launched a solo shot in the first to give Houston an early lead, but the Tigers tied things back up in the second inning.
After Kerry Carpenter flew out to left to open the bottom of the second, Spencer Torkelson drew a walk from Hunter Brown. Eric Haase showed off that batspeed by ripping a hot ground ball to left for a double, scoring Torkelson. The Tigers couldn’t get Haase around to score, and they quickly paid for it in the third.
Hutchison got the first two outs, including a strikeout of Jeremy Pena, but Alvarez followed with a double to right field. Alex Bregman dumped a single into center, and Alvarez scored on the play. Still, two outs and a man on first. Not a big problem. However, in a 1-2 count Hutchison dropped a slider down in the middle of the plate and Kyle Tucker smoked it out to right field for a two run homer. 4-1 Astros.
The Tigers did fight back in the bottom half. Akil Baddoo hit an absolute rocket over the head of center fielder Mauricio Dubon for a triple. Riley Greene followed with a line drive single to center to score Baddoo and make it 4-2.
The problem, as has so often been the case for the Tigers this season, was that they couldn’t maintain any pressure to put together a rally. Harold Castro grounded into his second double play of the game, and then they got a hit as Javier Báez singled up the middle. Carpenter struck out to end the inning.
Hutchison and Brown each settled in from there. The veteran Tigers’ right-hander got into a one-out jam in the sixth when Báez whiffed on a ground ball, and Dubon followed with a double. With runners on second and third, A.J. Hinch turned to Alex Lange, who struck out Martin Maldonado, hit Jose Altuve, and then punched out Pena as well to strand the runners. Brown had no trouble at all in the bottom half of the sixth.
Andrew Chafin came on in the seventh and immediately walked Alvarez. Riley Greene made an outstanding diving catch to rob Alex Bregman, and Tucker lined out to right, but Yuli Gurriel got a fastball in and smoked it out to left field for a two-run homer. 6-2 Astros.
Kody Clemens helped out the cause in the bottom of the seventh against reliever Hector Neris. Clemens ambushed the first pitch he saw and cracked an opposite field solo shot, his fourth on the year, to make it 6-3. Tucker Barnhart struck out, and Baddoo lined out the opposite way to Bregman at third on a ball that looked like it would’ve gotten down into the corner for extra bases. Close, but no cigars.
Baddoo came up with a nice defensive play of his own, robbing Maldonado on a sinking line drive in shallow left center to open the eighth. Jose Cisnero allowed a single to Altuve, but took care of the rest getting Pena to ground into a double play.
The Tigers went quietly in the bottom half of the eighth, and Daniel Norris spun a clean top of the ninth. Something exceptional would be required to pull this one out against a tough reliever in Ryan Pressly. The only thing exceptional was Pressly, who punched out the side to put a bow on this one for Dusty Baker and the Astros.
Cristian Javier will take on Joey Wentz at 1:10 p.m. EDT on Wednesday as Houston looks for the sweep.