Friday, September 5, 2014

Game of the Day (9/4/14)

Tigers 11, Indians 4 (11). The pitchers were Max Scherzer for Detroit and Trevor Bauer for Cleveland. Scherzer had promise as a youngster, but took a while to get everything figured out. Bauer has struggled early in his career - but he's just now approaching the age Scherzer had as a rookie, which makes it much, much too early to write him off.

The Tigers jumped on Bauer immediately. Ian Kinsler led off the game with a double, and Tyler Collins singled him to third. Miguel Cabrera grounded out, advancing Collins but not Kinsler, and Victor Martinez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Bauer then threw a wild pitch, bringing in one run. JD Martinez drew a walk, Nick Castellanos lined out, and Bryan Holaday singled in a pair of runs for a 3-0 lead. Hernan Perez walked, loading the bases once more, and Rajai Davis singled in the fourth Tiger of the inning. Kinsler finally grounded out to end the onslaught.

Scherzer worked around a Michael Bourn walk in the first and a Yan Gomes double in the second, then retired the Indians in order in the third. Meanwhile, Bauer settled in with a perfect second, allowed only a JD Martinez single in the third, and threw a 1-2-3 fourth. Cleveland picked up its first run in the bottom of the fourth when Michael Brantley doubled, Carlos Santana reached on an error, and Brantley came home on Gomes's sac fly.

Each starter worked around a walk in the fifth. Bauer plunked Holaday to open the sixth and was pulled after Kinsler's two-out single; Nick Hagadone struck out pinch hitter Torii Hunter to end the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Santana drew a one-out walk, Jason Kipnis doubled him to third, Gomes hit an RBI groundout, and Lonnie Chisenhall added a run-scoring single to bring Cleveland within a run. Chisenhall took second on the throw home, then moved to third on a wild pitch before being left there.

CC Lee was perfect in the seventh. Bourn hit a one-out single against Al Alburquerque in the bottom of the inning; Blaine Hardy relieved after the second out and allowed a game-tying RBI double to Brantley. Hardy ended the inning without further incident, and the teams brought on the hearts of their respective bullpens. Bryan Shaw and Joba Chamberlain were both perfect in the eighth; Cody Allen retired the Tigers in order in the ninth. Chamberlain recorded the first out in the bottom of the inning, and was then relieved by Phil Coke, who allowed a Bourn single and then saw him caught stealing to force extras.

Scott Atchison gave up a Cabrera double to open the tenth; Cabrera was pulled for pinch runner Eugenio Suarez, who would end the inning at third. Coke managed a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning, and in the top of the eleventh, the Tigers unleashed a bit of an avalanche on Josh Tomlin. Davis started the rally with a one-out walk; Kinsler singled, Davis took third, and Kinsler moved to second on the resultant throw. Ezequiel Carrera was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Suarez hit a go-ahead two-run single; Victor Martinez followed with a three-run homer to make it a 9-4 lead. Bryan Price replaced Tomlin and hit JD Martinez with a pitch, then allowed a Castellanos double and a two-run single to Andrew Romine. Jim Johnson retired the Indians in order to preserve the seven-run advantage.

When the Tigers sent Eugenio Suarez to run for Miguel Cabrera in the tenth inning, I'm sure they were hoping that Suarez would be involved in the decisive run of the game. But given that entering play, Cabrera had more than 71 times as many career RBI as Suarez, I rather doubt they were expecting him to drive in the game-winner. At that point, the rest of the Tigers seem to have decided that if their pinch runner can knock in two runs, the rest of the team didn't have much excuse for not piling on. The resultant landslide pulled them within a game of the still-awesome-to-say first-place Royals, with 22 games to go (24 remaining for KC).

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