Last night: The Tigers haven’t roughed up too many starters this season. Add Joe Saunders to the short list, and he was spared from getting rocked completely only by his own lack of command and good positioning + Rougned Odor. Detroit jumped off to a “comfortable” lead very quickly. I can’t believe Miggy scored the 5th run on Hunter’s shallow single to LF. Neither can Dave Clark (who said STOP!) or Shin-Soo Choo. Choo must have come up looking at Clark rather than Cabrera – chalk up another “he wouldn’t dare” run for Miggy. (Big run, looking back. No 1-run lead jitters. Only 2- and 3-run lead jitters.) Sanchez was just dealing… until the middle of the second Leonys Martin PA (0-2 to BB). After that, he wasn’t the same. The 4th inning clown show featuring the defensive liability stylings of Holaday and Castellanos was no help. Fortunately, Martinez & Martinez struck right back again to pad the lead back to 7-3. Victor now has more HR than the Kansas City Royals, and J.D. now has more HR than… Cabrera over his last 41 games. It was kind of lousy of Victor to rob J.D. of an RBI, though. Then came the 5th and 6th. HBP, HR, HBP. Sanchez was adrift. Hardy to the rescue, but there were indications that the Tigers offense might be over. 7-4 is a nervous lead in Arlington. (As are 7-5, 8-5, and 8-6.) Hardy lost potential Golden Boy status in the 7th with a leadoff walk and a strikeout of Choo that wasn’t really. The lead shrunk in that too-eventful 7th, but again Detroit came back with a run of their own thanks to a clutch double from Suarez. Coulda been more, but things went wrong. I’m actually a bit more peeved with the 3rd out from Davis than I am with Holaday’s inexplicable try for home. Haven’t seen Joba in a while besides lineup card duty. Here he was in the 8th, and he got by on defense (Suarez, Davis in CF). The Tigers 9th, well, I’d say we expected more from the meaty part of the lineup, but I guess they were exhausted from earlier. In comes Nathan, and he both maintained his +6 ERA and got the save in one swell foop. All in all, the bullpen bent but did not break. Not a real good day for the pitchers. Chalk this one up to the bats. And speaking of defense, I’ve decided I’d like to see less of Holaday. It was really bad.
Tip of the cap: I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but Adrian Beltre is unstoppable. 2B Rougned Odor made the play that kept the Rangers in the game, and made an uncomfortable (for us) something out of nothing later (triple out of a strikeout, only in America). How many Tigers outs is C Robinson Chirinos responsible for now? He needs a day off.
For the sweep, for the season series, for the winning streak that can’t end just yet, we pin most of our hopes on Rick Porcello, who faces Nick Martinez in the finale. Going back to 2011, including a beauty last season, 3 of Porcello’s last 4 starts at Texas have been quite good indeed.
POSTGAME: Shin-Soo Choo battled the sun and lost. Rangers have communication difficulties in the OF. Hunter has depth perception difficulties in RF, and if you had been told that Porcello had thrown 20% of his total pitches in the 1st, would you have guessed the outcome? Hunter’s restraint in walking with the bases loaded deserves some recognition, even if an entirely different Nick Martinez was already pitching himself out of the game. The failure to really cash in on bases-loaded situations does not go unnoticed even when the team is on a roll. Jackson (2-run single) should swing at first pitches much more often. Blowout stifled courtesy of Elvis Andrus and the 3rd-inning-ending DP he starts on Hunter’s hard grounder. Sparkling 4-6-3 double play Tigers. It is good news if J.D. can keep hanging back on breaking balls and hitting them as deep as the sac fly that made it 5-0. Sparkling 4-6-3 double play Tigers. Carlos Pena thought that 3-6-1 DP on Victor was funnier than I did. Sparkling 4-6-3 double play Tigers. Is there an echo in here? Jackson forgets he plays CF for the Tigers and covers a mile to retire Beltre. The inscrutable Mr. Choo’s bad day continues as he gets a glove and no more on Cabrera’s home run disguised as a double, and Kinsler (isn’t it always Kinsler?) scores to make it 6-0. Golden Boy finishes 0 for 5 but doesn’t strike out. Hardy warms up a few times but doesn’t pitch. The only drama in the bottom 9th is the drama of your team running out the clock when the opponent has used up all their time outs.
Porcello turned in a gem, a keeper, best of the season by a Tiger. A COMPLETE GAME SHUTOUT featuring 13 groundball outs (not counting the 3 bonus ones on double plays) and 6 strikeouts. It wasn’t wasted; aside from one miscue, it was fully supported.
Tip of the cap: Scott Baker did a pretty decent job in the underappreciated role of “long (really long) man,” a.k.a. second-chance starter. SS Andrus made a snazzy play that made a difference, even in a losing cause.
43-32, 7 in a row, on to Houston.