For eleven innings, the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros battled in a game just as tight as the ones the teams played previously in Detroit.
By the time an affair reaches the extra innings, however, all it takes is one good swing to break through and win a game. Jason Castro supplied the power this time around, uplifting the Astros in a 4-3 victory.
After the teams traded runs early, the Tigers had pulled ahead on the sixth home run of the season for Nick Castellanos. The lead proved short lived, as in the fifth inning, Jose Altuve stole the show. First, he doubled to tie the game, and then, he managed to steal home to provide the Astros the 3-2 lead.
Detroit fought back late, tying the game with an error-fueled play after Miguel Cabrera appeared to have grounded out. Eugenio Suarez scored on the wild play, setting up the tie and setting the stage for the late innings.
Nobody could generate much offense early in extra innings thanks to some quality relief pitching on both sides, and as previously stated, in a situation like that, one mighty swing is usually all it takes. Castro provided it, smoking a laser beam over the fence offered up by Blaine Hardy for the victory.
Top Tiger: Justin Verlander. Eight strikeouts and one walk later, Verlander was able to turn in another solid start. Unfortunately for him, the offense didn't get the job done in another one of his starts, which was the major story. Verlander's start should have been enough to win, but once again, the Tigers struggled with Houston pitching, and specifically, Brad Peacock.
Bungling Bengal: Team defense. Instead of one player, the defense caused most of the problems for the Tigers tonight. Alex Avila's sloppiness allowed Houston to take a fast 1-0 lead, and the fact that the team was unaware allowed Altuve to turn the rare trick of stealing home. In the rare occasions the Tigers are a mess defensively, they usually manage to lose a close game.
The Turning Point: Jose Altuve steals home. Even though the Tigers managed to scrap together a comeback, Altuve's swipe of home plate was a momentum shifting moment. In turning in a play that so rarely happens, Altuve provided his team with a significant lift and gave them the confidence to win.
Stat Of The Game: 4, the number of hits Jose Altuve collected. Quite simply, like the Astros to the Tigers as a whole this season, he was a pest. Altuve has always been a solid player, but for the first time, he showed the goods as a whole to Detroit. Rarely does a player pile up hits in a game, but Altuve joined Miguel Cabrera in the four hit club on Friday night.
Quote To Note: "That was by design." —Brad Ausmus, on Verlander's exit from the game. Ausmus went on to say that his star pitcher was tiring, meaning he had to remove him. It shouldn't have been a major talking point considering Verlander is coming out of struggles and the bullpen did well save for one swing. Instead, the major issue was Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez going 0-14 in the game.
What's Next: The Tigers and Max Scherzer (9-3) attempt to get back on even footing with the Astros, who due to a wrist problem with Dallas Keuchel are forced to throw Brett Oberholtzer (2-6), who's already been shelled once by Detroit this year. The game begins at 4:10 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.Tags: Baseball, Blaine Hardy, Brad Ausmus, Brad Peacock, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, MLB, Nick Castellanos