The Detroit Tigers, despite all of their bullpen problems, had still been able to hold all of their leads in the seventh inning or later.
Until Sunday. Joba Chamberlain allowed three runs in the fourth inning, and the Tigers lost to the Minnesota Twins 4-3 to close out their home stand.
Rookie Robbie Ray was sensational again, and Detroit struck first blood quickly, getting a double from Ian Kinsler and a sacrifice fly from Miguel Cabrera to take the early 1-0 lead. Detroit let a major chance go by the wayside in the 4th, getting only an RBI single from Austin Jackson to add one to their lead despite loading the bases.
As Ray continued to dominate and work his way through the middle innings, it wasn't immediately obvious that he'd need any more support, He got one additional run from a Kinsler home run, which appeared to be enough. The Twins chipped away in the seventh, though, scoring one on a single by Danny Santana to make it 3-1.
Then, the inning of reckoning began. Chamberlain entered and immediately fell behind, hitting Brian Dozier, allowing him to steal and walking Joe Mauer. Chamberlain came back to fan two straight and came within one strike of getting out of the jam when Josmil Pinto scored two thanks to an error by Rajai Davis. Eduarodo Nunez singled home the lead run, and that was that.
Detroit's bats went quietly into their elongated upcoming road trip, going down three in a row against Glen Perkins.
Top Tiger: Ian Kinsler. A big day at the plate for Kinsler, who went 2-3 with a home run and two runs scored. The second baseman was literally the offense on Sunday, and nearly did enough to help his team win despite everyone else's struggles. Kinsler continues to impress early.
Bungling Bengal: Rajai Davis. Not only did Davis have a tough day hitting, but his major error in judgment in the eighth inning helped Minnesota win the game. Instead of trying to backhand the ball, Davis should have simply got in front and gotten the ball in. Instead, his mistake kick started the rally. It's been a good year for Davis up to this point, so riding him for one tough day is a bit unfair.
The Turning Point: Joba Chamberlain hits Brian Dozier to lead off the eighth. Whenever a pitcher hits a batter to start an inning, that's a surefire sign of doom. Dozier had been one of Minnesota's hottest hitters, so putting him on the bases to start the inning was a recipe for disaster. It turned out to be the case quickly when he scored and the game was quickly tied.
Stat Of The Game: 2, the number of hits Detroit managed to get with runners in scoring position. Minnesota got three, which ended up being the difference in a one-run game. Had Detroit managed a few more hits with the bases loaded, the game would have likely ended differently. Such is the story in baseball.
What's Next: the Tigers head on the road to Baltimore to take on the Orioles on Monday night. Bud Norris (2-2) takes on Rick Porcello (5-1) at 7:05 p.m.
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