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July 9, 2014

What You Need to Know

The Tigers' Roaring Comeback

by Chris Mosch


The Tuesday Takeaway
The Tigers looked like they’d be in for a long night when the Dodgers jumped all over Justin Verlander in the top of the first inning of Tuesday’s clash between the two first-place clubs.

Yasiel Puig drew a one-out walk and moved up to second base following a single by Hanley Ramirez. Next up was Adrian Gonzalez, who roped a liner down the right field line for a double. An uncharacteristic misplay in the right field corner by Torii Hunter allowed Ramirez to score from first, standing up just ahead of the relay throw home. Matt Kemp singled home Gonzalez to give Los Angeles a 3-0 lead, and two batters later, Juan Uribe deposited a hanging breaking ball from Verlander into the visitor’s bullpen to extend the advantage to 5-0.

With a five-run lead and Hyun-jin Ryu on the hill, things looked promising for the Dodgers and bleak for the Tigers. Los Angeles was approximately an 86 percent favorite to leave with the “W” before the Tigers had even taken their first hacks. They were already celebrating in the dugouts with bubbles! But Verlander buckled down after his ugly first inning, which was more than could be said for Ryu.

Detroit kicked off a second-inning rally when Hunter led off with an opposite-field drive that one-hopped off the right field wall. Puig was there to field the ball cleanly off the wall and unleash a cannon of a throw to second base from the warning track, and second-base umpire Will Little called Hunter out on a bang-bang play. Brad Ausmus challenged the call on the field, and it was promptly overturned to give the Tigers a leadoff double.

Detroit proceeded to single Ryu to death in the inning, stringing together four consecutive base knocks to cut the lead to 5-2. The last of those four singles was a bases-loaded infield hit by Rajai Davis, which shortstop Miguel Rojas was able to keep in the infield with a sweet diving stop. However, Rojas hesitated before throwing to first, leaving just enough time for Davis to reach base safely.

Ryu rung up Austin Jackson with a backwards K for the first out of the inning, but the Tigers struck back with singles by Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, and J.D. Martinez to even the score at 5-5. The Dodgers were able to escape the inning with the game still tied after Hunter—batting for the second time in the inning—grounded into a 6-3 double play.

Detroit knocked Ryu out of the game the next inning, when Davis delivered a one-out RBI single to plate Nick Castellanos from second base and give the home team a 6-5 lead. Jamey Wright relieved Ryu and allowed Alex Avila—for whom Ryu was responsible—to score later in the inning, running the southpaw’s total runs allowed up to seven. Perhaps the only time Ryu has been less effective during an outing in the States was earlier this season against the Giants, when he was blasted in an April start for eight runs during just two innings of work.

Wright didn’t fare any better against the potent Detroit bats, serving up a four-spot the next inning before being lifted in favor of Chris Perez. The Tigers could have extended the 11-5 lead even further then and there, but Kinsler ended the rally with Detroit’s second bases-loaded double play of the game.

With his offense rolling behind him, Verlander settled down after Uribe’s home run in the first inning, retiring the next 14 Dodgers to step to the plate. He exited after six innings and 100 pitches, but his ERA ballooned to 4.84 thanks to his shaky first inning. The Tigers padded their lead with another run in the fifth inning and two more in the seventh, finishing off their offensive outburst with a grand total of 14 unanswered runs. Miguel Cabrera added insult to injury during that two-run seventh with an RBI triple in the right-center gap off Paul Maholm, which was just the third three-bagger that Cabrera has collected in the last six years.

Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Hunter, Castellanos, and Davis each tallied three hits for the Tigers, who finished the onslaught with 20 total hits. Surprisingly, none of those hits left the yard. Matt Sussman pointed out that the last time a team scored at least 14 runs in a game without a dinger was last September, when the Tigers thrashed James Shields and the Royals, 16-2.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (07/09)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/08)
Next Column >>
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/10)
Next Article >>
The Lineup Card: Eight... (07/09)

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