Down 1-0 in the game and 0-2 in the count, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera battled, grinded, fouled and fought off pitches from Royals closer Joakim Soria. He worked to a 2-2 count, and after 10 pitches, smashed a game tying, 2-out home run off the foul pole in right. Didn’t matter. The Tigers lost to the Kansas City Royals tonight by a final score of 3-2.
The homer was the lone bright spot in a game where the Tigers’ weaknesses were showcased in grand fashion.
Not much offense to speak of until the Royals manufactured a run in the bottom of the 7th. After a Yuniesky Betancourt single and Jason Kendall base on balls off Tiger reliever Fu Te Ni, Chris Getz slapped a base hit to leftfield bringing Betancourt around.
In the next half inning, the Tigers tried to play small ball after Alex Avila led off the inning with a single and moved over to second on a Scott Sizemore sacrifice bunt. What followed was a fly out by Ramon Santiago and strikeout of Austin Jackson. Tall order for the rookie as Joakim Soria was brought in for a four out save with 2 outs in the eighth.
After Cabrera’s homer in the 9th, Tiger relievers had to dip and dodge a few bullets. In the bottom of the 9th, Phil Coke allowed a leadoff single to Rick Ankiel and then went to a 3-1 count on DH Jose Guillen. Coke was able to get a double play ball, and finish the inning unscathed.
In the tenth, the Tigers put runners at the corners with 1 out. Jackson struck out again, and Johnny Damon followed with a line out to rightfield.
The eleventh inning was most troubling for the Tigers. After 2 pitches, the Tigers had two singles and runners at first and second. Carlos Guillen capped off his 2-for-5 night with a single to right center and brought home the go-ahead run. With runners still at first and second and nobody out, Brandon Inge had a completely unproductive at-bat, popping out to second. He was followed by a inexcusable baserunning mistake by Miguel Cabrera who took off for third before reliever Kyle Farnsworth motioned home. He was tagged out at third for the second out. Finally, Gerald Laird ended the inning by popping out harmlessly to shortstop. Despite leaving the top half of the eleventh with the lead, the Tigers should have had a cushion.
One of the Tigers big free agents and usually reliable closer Jose Valverde was hammered. He didn’t record a single out, allowing a leadoff home run to Alberto Callaspo, single to Billy Butler, and game winning double to Rick Ankiel.
If the Tigers hope to compete in a wide open AL Central, they have to win ballgames like tonight. They got a great start from newly acquired Scherzer, and better than adequate performances from their bullpen. Miguel Cabrera bailed out the Tigers’ horrendous offense tonight, and they were able to do nothing with it.
Red flags are raised for many reasons, but maybe most important was the lack of production against Royals’ starter Luke Hochevar, who appeared to have very flat stuff tonight. Austin Jackson looked like a rookie, as he was blown away by 3 straight fastballs in the 8th and 10th. Chalk it up to bad weather, chalk it up to an off-night, but these are the kind of games the Tigers need over a 162-game season, period.
Austin Jackson–2-for-5 with a triple, single
Max Scherzer–6 IP, 3 K’s, 1 hit, 0 ER
Luke Hochevar–7.2 IP, 2 K’s, 5 Hits, 0 ER