The Detroit Tigers' pain continues. When the hits are falling, the pitchers can't execute. Conversely, when the pitchers execute, the hitters routinely can't get the job done. The second outcome was the case on Wednesday afternoon, when Kansas City gritted out a 2-1 win at Comerica Park.
Much like the previous two nights, the Royals wasted little time getting things going. An innocent bounce off second base from Alex Gordon helped plate Eric Hosmer and give Kansas City the immediate 1-0 lead.
Drew Smyly would settle down nicely and keep the Tigers in the game with his fantastic breaking ball. The next three innings, Kansas City couldn't muster much off Detroit's lefty, but in the fifth, they got a solo home run from Omar Infante to extend the lead to 2-0.
Offensively, the Tigers were packing no punches against Jeremy Guthrie despite having plenty of solid career numbers against him. Guthrie motored through the first handful of innings without a hard hit ball against him, and pitched well into the seventh, when J.D. Martinez finally got Detroit on the board with a solo home run to make it 2-1. A double by Nick Castellanos left the tying run on second until Don Kelly harmlessly flew out.
The fun stopped there, however. Kansas City brought in Wade Davis for the eighth, and he proceeded to showcase his electric arm in the midst of striking out the side. Greg Holland allowed a single to Miguel Cabrera, but got the next three outs with relative ease to collect his 21st save of the season.
Top Tiger: J.D. Martinez. Despite all the madness consuming the Tigers' lineup, Martinez continues to hit, and rocked another home run on Wednesday. He's hit safely in eight straight games and is giving the Tigers something to think about with or without a healthy Torii Hunter and eventually, Andy Dirks. Martinez is also knocking on the door of being a .300 hitter, now checking in at an impressive .299.
Bungling Bengal: Alex Avila. If there's one player who's the poster-child for Detroit's consistent offensive struggles, it's Avila. Another miserable day saw Avila strike out two times, harmlessly ground out and make the final out on a fly ball in the ninth inning. With the miserable day, Avila is now hitting .212 and continues to come up small in every possible way. There's no way for the Tigers to hide Avila, so considering they appear invested in him, they can only hope his hitting turns around.
The Turning Point: Omar Infante's home run. On this day, two runs was enough because the Tigers' bats had fallen pathetically silent. When Infante his his second home run in three days, the Tigers seemed to get a "here we go again" type feeling, starting to go through the motions with lazy at bats. A strange bounce gifted Alex Gordon the first RBI of the game, but Infante's hit was the dagger, once again.
Stat Of The Game: 5, the number of hits the Tigers collected Kansas City pitching. Despite having several hitters that clobbered Guthrie in the past, Detroit went quietly most of the afternoon against the Royals' pitcher and then bullpen, failing to get a ball out of the infield for the first three innings. It was a disappointing day for the offense as a whole.
Quote To Note: "There's a lot of baseball left, ton of baseball left." –Brad Ausmus. After the game, Detroit's manager was quick to point out that contrary to a horrible stretch and a hot Kansas City team, the baseball season isn't completely over just yet. It's true, the Tigers sit only 1.5 games behind the Royals, but their issues are likely keeping most others from sharing in the optimism.
What's Next: Desperately trying to salvage any kind of momentum in the series before hitting the road for a long time, the Tigers will send Anibal Sanchez (3-2) to the hill against Danny Duffy (4-5) at 1:08 p.m.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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