I know this is a bit of an odd thing to use as the headline, I really do. And I know that Jeff Mathis’s .267 average isn’t really befitting of his reputation as a black hole of suck on offense. But Mathis remains a black hole of suck on offense, and the Tigers let said black hole get the big hit against them in Friday’s 8-3 defeat.
Things actually started well for the Tigers, what with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder both launching homers in back-to-back fashion, followed by Delmon Young drawing a walk for the third straight night (somehow). That was all the Tigers got in that inning, but they certainly had to feel good about staking Rick Porcello to a 2-0 lead.
Porcello, of course, was coming off what was probably the best start of his career last Sunday against Chicago. Porcello responded just as you’d expect him to – shakily. A double by 67-year-old Omar Vizquel set things up for Edwin Encarnacion to knock in a Jays run with an RBI single two batters later.
As Jays starter Carlos “Don’t Call Me Charlie” Villanueva settled in, so too did Porcello. Rick retired 7 straight, including five straight on ground balls, and it looked like he might pull through after all….until the 4th inning happened. After a Colby Rasmus single and a force play at second, Porcello suddenly lost the strike zone, walking both Kelly Johnson and Travis Snider (sandwiching a Yan Gomes strikeout between them). This set up a bases loaded two out spot for the typically light-hitting Mathis, who promptly ripped a double over left fielder Quintin Berry’s head to clear the bases. Anthony Gose immediately followed with an RBI single, and the Tigers’ 2-1 lead had rapidly turned into a 5-2 deficit.
Despite a rather inflated pitch count, Villanueva kept the Tigers at bay for five innings, and the Blue Jays bullpen did the same, as Aaron Loup and Tiger legend Brandon Lyon (who still should’ve been pitching instead of Zach Miner in game 163… oh, sorry, that’s a rant for another time) held the Tigers scoreless for two innings. The Tigers’ bullpen couldn’t keep things manageable, however, as Octavio Dotel allowed back to back triples to Brett Lawrie and Vizquel (that guy again?) and Travis Snider launched a two-run homer off Duane Below in the 8th – that made a Prince Fielder RBI single in the 8th little more than window dressing (although it’s worth noting just for the great throw Colby Rasmus made to nearly get Miguel Cabrera at the plate).
So the Tigers did indeed lose a game to the Blue Jays…with Jeff Mathis a deciding factor. Celebrate accordingly. On the bright side, the Indians are losing big to Minnesota (hahahahahahaha), but the White Sox are beating Texas by one, so that could drop the Tigers back to 1.5 behind them in the AL Central.