A nice welcome.
Tigers 4, Royals 3
The Tigers returned Monday looking a lot more like the old Tigers than the new Tigers.They made a couple of miscues in the field and on the bases, but were carried by some mostly solid offerings from Justin Verlander (1 GS, 6 IP, 3.00 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 0.2 fWAR) and some power from the rest of the group. Martinez homered to put the Tigers on the board early and they unleashed a pair of triples in the seventh to overcome the three run Royals fourth. It was 3-3 going to the 9th when Joe Nathan made his first appearance as a Tiger and set the Royals down in order. Then came the bottom half in which, Alex walked and Castellanos singled to set up Alex Gonzalez for a game winning hit to left. That’s right, Alex Gonzalez, that guy we couldn’t believe they traded for had his hero game on Opening Day. The Tigers take an early lead on the Royals in the division and will call on the reigning Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer (1st Start of 2014), to take the series on Wednesday.
The Moment: Alex Gonzalez triples in the tying run and then walks off in the 9th.
A feather in Max’s award season cap.
Tigers 3, Royals 2 (Magic # = 9)
When Max Scherzer (30 GS, 201.1 IP, 2.95 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 6.2 WAR) takes the mound you can usually count on the Tigers to score a lot of runs, but on this afternoon that wouldn’t be the case. Despite plenty of chances the Tigers only scored on Alex Avila’s 2 run homer in the second inning and that would be all Max would need (sort of!). Aside from a solo homerun to Gordon he dazzled across 7 innings in which he allowed 5 hits, 1 walk, and struck out 12 Kansas City Royals, including 5 straight at one point. It was vintage Max after he struggled in two of his past three outings and he sent the Tigers on the path to their 86th win of the season that would be interrupted by a run scoring wild pitch in the 8th inning that tied the game at 2 until Avila stepped in to untie it again with a bomb in the 8th. They’ll welcome the Mariners to Comerica Park for the first time this season on Monday with Rick Porcello (27 GS, 162 IP, 4.56 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 2.5 WAR) lined up for game one.
The Moment: Avila blasts a go-ahead homerun in the 8th – his second of the day.
Brisk, but without success.
Royals 1, Tigers 0 (Magic # = 10)
To no one’s surprise, Doug Fister (30 GS, 193.2 IP, 3.67 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 4.2 WAR) and Ervin Santana hooked up for a pitchers’ duel tonight featuring very little offense and a pretty quick pace. Fister allowed a run on two hits in the first but was stingy the rest of the way giving the Tigers 7.2 innings of 1 run baseball featuring 6 K an 3 BB. The Tigers bats couldn’t do much against Santana and his pen despite an Infante double with a man on first in the 9th. The Tigers failed to score, however, as Leyland elected not to run for Fielder – who was on first – and it was the difference in the game as he was thrown out at home by about a step – a step that a pinch runner would have had on Fielder. It’s hard to quantify the effect managers have on games, but this was a clear time in which Leyland is squarely to blame. It makes sense not to lose Fielder in a tie game in the 9th or any time earlier, but if you don’t score the tying run in the 9th, the game ends. You have to pinch run. It’s bad strategy, pure and simple, and it’s a situation an MLB manager should be ready for from the first day of the season. Especially with expanded rosters. The Tigers will look to take the series Sunday afternoon with Max Scherzer (29 GS, 194.1 IP, 3.01 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 5.9 WAR) on the hill.
The Moment: Hunter guns down Getz at third in the 7th inning.
The reckoning of Bruce Chen.
Tigers 6, Royals 3 (Magic # = 10)
The top of the order gave Justin Verlander (31 GS, 199.2 IP, 3.66 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 4.6 WAR) plenty of runs to work with thanks to good nights from Jackson, Hunter, Cabrera, and Fielder against the Bruce Chen. Verlander didn’t dazzle in any sort of Cy Young caliber way, but he gave the Tigers 6.2 solid innings of 3 run baseball featuring 7 strikeouts and no walks and continues to have the best “down year” anybody has probably ever had. The story of this one was the bullpen as Smyly came on and got the final out of the 7th and the first in the 8th before giving way to Veras who got one out but added two baserunners. It was Benoit who entered with four outs left, defying all logic. Somehow, a closer managed to finagle his way into a game earlier than the 9th inning out of Jim Leyland’s bullpen – and somehow – he didn’t blow it! He K’d Lough and then went through the 9th to close it out. The Tigers will try to take the series behind the vertically gifted Doug Fister (29 GS, 186 IP, 3.77 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 4.0 WAR).
The Moment: Benoit comes in with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning and strikes out David Lough.
The standard Chen-experience.
Royals 5, Tigers 2
Doug Fister (29 GS, 186 IP, 3.77 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 4.0 WAR) did nice work today except for a three batter stretch that would prove decisive in the 5th inning. Gordon reached on an infield hit that Martinez knocked down and then Bonifacio knocked a single to right field to bring Hosmer to the plate with 2 on and 2 out. Fister got behind 2-0 but worked back even before leaving a fastball over the plate that Hosmer belted out to dead center. Aside from that Fister did his job, allowing 5 total runs in 6.1 innings while striking out 4 and walking just one. You don’t get extra credit for bunching up the damage, but Fister looked good other than a very poorly timed mistake pitch. The fault belongs with the offense who couldn’t score against Chen and the ‘pen aside from the Iglesias homerun in the 3rd and the Tigers dropped the series. They’ll pack up and head to Chicago to meetup with the White Sox for three starting Monday behind Max Scherzer (28 GS, 190.1 IP, 2.88 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 5.7 WAR).
The Moment: Iglesias turns on one against Bruce Chen in the 3rd.
Royals 4, Tigers 3
It looked as if the Tigers were going to wear out the Royals on this night, but after only cashing in once in the first they allowed the Royals to get back into the game. Justin Verlander (30 GS, 192.2 IP, 3.64 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 4.1 WAR) did good work for the majority of the game and made just one very critical mistake to Sal Perez in the bottom of the sixth that ended up in the left field seats. Verlander’s secondary pitches were good and he had plenty of velocity, touching 99 and averaging 96 across 7 innings of 4 run baseball that featured 7 K and 1 BB. The Tigers had some chances but only added single runs in the 5th and 7th to fall shot of the comeback. The Tigers will give the ball to Doug Fister (28 GS, 179.2 IP, 3.66 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 4.0 WAR) on Sunday looking to take the series.
The Moment: Nick Castellanos gets his first big league hit on a dribbler to second.
A meaningful response.
Tigers 16, Royals 2
Just two days after absorbing a 16 run defeat at the hands of the Red Sox, the Tigers turned around and took their frustration out on the Royals in a big way. Anibal Sanchez (25 GS, 159 IP, 2.60 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 5.3 WAR) was quite good, but didn’t really have to be, finishing with 7 innings of 1 run baseball and 5 Ks and 1 BB. He touched 97 and breezed through while his offense made the Royals wish they hadn’t gotten out of bed in the morning. They got 5 in the 2nd, 5 in the 4th, 3 in the 5th, 2 in the 7th, and 1 in the 9th to finish this one early and often. Jackson, Fielder, and Avila had 3 hits. Hunter and Martinez had 2. Dirks had 5. Infante had 5. It was hard to keep track. Everyone was hitting. A lot. And this wasn’t death by a million paper cuts, it was good, solid contact that erased the terrible damage they did to their run differential on Wednesday. Despite the dominance, it counts for just one game in the standings, locking in the Tigers 82nd win and setting them up to take the series with Justin Verlander (29 GS, 185.2 IP, 3.59 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 3.9 WAR) taking the hill.
The Moment: The TIgers score 16 runs. How can you choose just one?
As comfortable as the weather.
Tigers 6, Royals 3
After splitting the first four games in the long, five game set with the Royals, the Tigers took the final game to ensure that they sent the Royals packing without gaining any ground on the division leaders. Max Scherzer (25 GS, 172,1 IP, 2.82 ERA, 2.66 FIP, 5.3 WAR) gave the Tigers 8 strong innings of 2 run ball featuring 4 strikeouts and no walks while Miguel Cabrera provided all the offense he would need including a no doubt, first pitch bomb in the first to go along with an RBI single that came later. The Tigers added runs in the 5th and 6th innings as well to pad the lead and likely would have been looking at more if not for some excellent defensive play by Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer. The Tigers continue to put distance between themselves and the rest of the division as the summer winds down and will look to fatten up on the Twins for three games starting Tuesday at Comerica Park with Rick Porcello (22 IP, 131 IP, 4.33 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 2.5 WAR) on the mound to start it off.
The Moment: Cabrera hits a no doubt blast on the first pitch he saw.
Just another feather in his cap.
Tigers 6, Royals 5
Doug Fister (25 GS, 161.1 IP, 3.63 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 3.5 WAR) didn’t dominate during his 6.1 innings, but he held the Royals to 3 runs with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks and pitched around one of the worst calls you’ll see this year by the entire umpiring crew. With Getz on first, Escobar clearly fouled a pitch off – so clearly that Pena made no effort to go pick it up – but the umpire made no such call and allowed Getz to advance to third before Fister retrieved the baseball. Needless to say, Jim Leyland got himself kicked out, but less needless to say, so did the mild mannered Pena. Fister turned the game over to Smyly who allowed an equalizer to Perez, but was quickly bailed out by a Fielder bomb that punctuated his big night. Calling on Veras for the 8th proved problematic, as he allowed the tying run to score before escaping a big jam thanks to Fielder putting a delicate part of his body in the path of the baseball. In the 9th, Aaron Crow had to face Miguel Cabrera. I’m pretty sure you can imagine how that went for Crow, as he hung his head as he strolled into the dugout after giving up the walkoff bomb. The win takes the Tigers 21 games over the .500 mark and sets them up to take the series on Sunday behind Max Scherzer (24 GS, 164.1 IP, 2.85 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 4.9 WAR).
The Moment: Miguel Cabrera sends everybody home.
Nothing you’d worry about if it hadn’t happened twice today.
Royals 3, Tigers 0
The Tigers got another solid outing from their starter in the nightcap, but the offense failed to deliver again, this time for Jose Alvarez (5 GS, 25.1 IP, 4.62 ERA, 5.91 FIP, -0.1 WAR) who gave the Tigers 5.2 innings of 2 run baseball and kept pressure off the bullpen. He won’t win a Cy Young for the performance but he did a nice job keeping the Royals off balance and gave his team a shot to win. Unfortunately, the Tigers could get very little going against James Shields and they fell for the second time in just a few hours thanks to some tremendous defense by the Royals. The Tigers will have a chance to repair the damage as they’ll get the Royals two more times before the weekend is out starting with Doug Fister (24 GS, 155 IP, 3.60 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 3.3 WAR) on the hill on Saturday night.
The Moment: Iglesias charges and flips a ball backhanded to Cabrera to escape a jam.