Sometimes, when a team's hot, there's nothing the opposition can do. The Detroit Tigers seem to be living in that alternative stratosphere now, winners of four in a row and another 9-2 laugher over the Kansas City Royals.
Saturday, the offensive output got off to a rather pedestrian start considering Friday's fireworks. It took until a Nick Castellanos sacrifice fly in the fourth inning before either team could score. After the Tigers put two more on in the sixth, Castellanos did more damage, doubling home Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez to put Detroit out to a 3-0 lead.
Considering how Drew Smyly was pitching, those three runs would have been more than enough. Smyly kept the Royals at bay with a solid mix of pitches, striking out six while only giving up two hits and no runs. His counterpart Danny Duffy nearly matched him early, but walked a few too many batters and found himself out by the fifth. The Royals' bullpen would let him down.
The score would stay 3-0 through a spectacular eighth pitched by Joba Chamberlain, and Detroit did their damage in the top of the ninth. The first three batters reached, and all would eventually score thanks to the efforts of Cabrera (RBI single) and Torii Hunter, who's loud three-run home run put the finishing touches on a six run inning, cleared the bases and sent many of the remaining fans home.
Those runs would be needed, as Phil Coke imploded again in the bottom of the ninth allowing two runs, but fortunately for Detroit's sake, the major damage had been done. Coke got the final three outs eventually, allowing the Tigers to take the first two games of the series.
Top Tiger: Drew Smyly. For the second night in a row, a Detroit starter was the beneficiary of some fantastic run support. That shouldn't overshadow Smyly's wonderful effort on the mound, however. Much like Rick Porcello before him, Smyly went out and pitched a solid game, proving his early season struggles may have been more a result of rain-aided inconsistency.
Bungling Bengal: Phil Coke. Staked to a 9-0 lead, the Tigers weren't going to lose on Saturday, but Coke might have lost his grip on a job. He proceeded to give up three hits and allow two earned runs. Coke's ERA has stayed elevated, now at 9.39, and all the hits he allowed were very loud, as usual. If Coke doesn't start to get people out instead of giving up runs, he will serve no purpose for the team. At this point, the Tigers cannot afford to sip on flat Coke.
The Turning Point: A sixth inning double by Nick Castellanos puts Detroit up 3-0. The way Smyly was pitching, the Tigers weren't going to lose after the double plated two more runs. Castellanos struck all the important blows through the first eight innings, grabbing three RBI's and getting the Tigers' offense going in a big way in the midst of a close game.
Stat Of The Game: 9, the amount of Tigers' starters that collected a hit on Saturday. As impressive as the pitching was, the Tigers' hitting did show up again, even late in the game when it was important for the team to tack on some support that is always needed with a wobbly bullpen. This 12 hit effort continued the night after Detroit collected 14. Impressive bat wielding, indeed.
What's Next: Detroit will go for the sweep on Sunday during their road trip's conclusion, sending Justin Verlander to the hill to face Jason Vargas. The game will begin at 2:10 p.m.Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Drew Smyly, Joba Chamberlain, Miguel Cabrera, MLB, Nick Castellanos, Phil Coke