Sunday, the Detroit Tigers' bullpen melted down late in shocking fashion. Monday night, they put those problems behind them, mowing down the Baltimore Orioles in order to put away a solid 4-1 victory.
Early on, the Tigers were the ones playing from behind. Rick Porcello was pinching well, but got done in by a few hard hits. Steve Clevenger, still swinging a hot bat since leaving Comerica Park in April, doubled home J.J. Hardy in the second for the home team's early lead.
Bud Norris was matching Porcello solid inning for solid inning. He was perfect into the fourth, but a walk and a stolen base by Ian Kinsler set the table for Miguel Cabrera to tie the game with a single. A Victor Martinez double an an Austin Jackson sacrifice fly, and Detroit quickly pulled back ahead 2-1.
Porcello got back into a groove, pitching well through the next three innings, only allowing two more Orioles to reach base via hit. Ian Krol worked around trouble in the seventh, allowing Kinsler to leave the yard in the eighth with a two run shot, extending Detroit's lead to 4-1.
There would be no eighth inning dramatics on this day, as Al Alburqurque worked a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts, and Joe Nathan collected his eighth save of the season with a fast ninth inning, allowing Detroit to win the opener.
Top Tiger: Ian Kinsler. Back to back days Kinsler gets the top Tiger award, and it wasn't for lack of hustle. Kinsler not only got on base, but stole a base and bombed an important two-run home run late to help Detroit get out in front by enough to win comfortably.
Bungling Bengal: Andrew Romine. It's been a rough go of things lately for Romine, who's seen his average plummet to .215. Monday, he couldn't get an important bunt down in the eighth inning, and also made a throwing error in the field. Though he played decently early, Romine might be becoming a bit of a problem for Detroit's lineup, which could make Dave Dombrowski's decision at shortstop interesting in the months ahead.
The Turning Point: Al Alburquerque works a clean, quick eighth inning. Yesterday, the eighth was Detroit's trouble zone, as Joba Chamberlain imploded and the defense didn't back him up. Monday was a different story, as Alburquerque blew Baltimore away with some nasty pitches. Once he got through that inning, it seemed Nathan would be good in the ninth and he was, allowing Detroit to win.
Play(s) Of The Game: Bud Norris and Rick Porcello get defensive. Both pitchers made outstanding plays in the field helping to save their team some runs. First, Porcello got out of trouble in the second by quickly scampering over to cover first base on a slow roller. Then, Norris' hustle in the fifth helped secure a pop-up near Detroit's dugout. It seems pitcher hustle is a lost art, but fortunately, both hurlers showed some guts on Monday.
Stat Of The Game: 6, the number of runners the Orioles stranded in the series opener. Credit Detroit's pitching for being fantastic, of course, but had Baltimore managed to scratch across one more run in a key spot, the game could have become very different. It's not often a solid offensive team like the Orioles will leave a small village on the base paths.
Quote To Note: "I don't really know, but Torii handled it and we'll see what comes of it." –Ian Kinsler. Following Kinsler's home run, Norris plunked Torii Hunter in the ribs, forcing Hunter to get verbal and the benches to clear. Nothing happened the rest of the game and Kinsler was unaware of what happened on the field, but as he also said, it's never known what tomorrow might bring.
What's Next: Tuesday night, Drew Smyly (2-2) gets the ball against Ubaldo Jimenez (2-4) in the second game of the series from Camden Yards. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m.
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