Borrowing a page from the Detroit Tigers' recent book, the Houston Astros pounded the long ball well on Thursday afternoon, hammering three huge home runs to upend the home squad 6-2.
In the battle between two former Arkansas Razorback pitchers, the first to crack ended up being Dallas Keuchel. Austin Jackson hustled to break up a double play, allowing Nick Castellanos's double to provide Detroit an early 1-0 lead. In the fourth, Victor Martinez homered to left making it 2-0.
Though Drew Smyly was getting the better of his former college roommate early, George Springer hammered his first career home run to right field in the fifth inning, getting in on Detroit's fun and starting what would become an ominous theme for the Tigers' staff. Then, a walk and single later, Jose Altuve doubled to right, giving Houston their first lead of the series 3-2.
The pain continued for Detroit in the seventh, when Carlos Corporan homered off of Evan Reed to make it 4-2. Offensively, the Tigers couldn't get much going in the later innings, failing to generate much of anything off Keuchel, who struck out seven, which included a massive whiff of Torii Hunter in a key spot in the seventh with two runners on base.
After Anthony Bass, the pride of Trenton, Michigan managed to induce a weak ground out from Miguel Cabrera in the eighth, Houston got their needed insurance runs. Following a Springer walk, Matt Dominguez teed off, clubbing a long two run home run to left field to put the Astros on top 6-2.
With that, a pair of dueling streaks came to an end, Houston's dismal five game losing streak and Detroit's superb eight game winning streak.
Top Tiger: Victor Martinez. Another day, another big offensive output from Martinez, who smashed three hits including his second home run in as many nights while extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Entering the season, many wondered about the protection Miguel Cabrera would receive from Martinez. Nothing to worry about at all.
Bungling Bengal: Drew Smyly. Even though the streak of fantastic starts matched with big offensive outputs was going to have to end sometime, Smyly had a particularly rough afternoon. At times, he looked downright dominating, while also certainly giving up his fair share of big hits. All in all, it wasn't a great day for Smyly, who was also not helped by his offense.
The Turning Point: Jose Altuve doubles in the fifth to give Houston the lead. Prior to that hit, the Astros hadn't led once in the series despite a decent amount of offensive pressure now and again. After Altuve cleared the bases and provided the Astros with some confidence, the result looked much better for Houston considering the way Keuchel was cruising along through the middle innings
Play Of The Game: George Springer's diving catch robs Miguel Cabrera of a hit. Though Springer tried to rob Cabrera in vain of a home run the night before, he had his revenge swiftly on Thursday, charging in and making a beautiful sprawling catch in shallow right field. The play set the tone for Springer's best major league game to date in which he homered and scored two runs.
Stat Of The Game: 0, the number of walks Dallas Keuchel issued on Thursday. The left handed starter was impressive, and in complete control of the game striking out seven Tigers' batters. Detroit couldn't get anything free or easy at the dish, thus perhaps the biggest reason their offense stalled for the first time in over a week.
Quote To Note: "Sometimes, a guy's just gonna be on." –Brad Ausmus. It was that simple for the Tigers' skipper on Thursday when describing what happened to his team's offense against Houston and their sterling starter Dallas Keuchel, who had his best game of the year. Figures a former catcher would perfectly sum up an offense's troubles and a pitcher's good day.
What's Next: The Tigers prepare for a return visit from a Central Division foe as the Minnesota Twins visit Comerica Park for a three game set. Friday, Justin Verlander (4-1) will face off against Phil Hughes (3-1) at 7:08 p.m.
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