With Robbie Ray and LJ Hoes playing baseball in the same park, the puns were lighting up twitter (and probably Comerica) like a pair of glow in the dark heels tonight. But I digress… severely. In his major league debut, Robbie Ray gave Tigers fans a healthy preview of the talent that placed him in high regard with GM Dave Dombrowski during trade talks with the Washington Nationals this past winter. Ray went 5 1/3 strong and really only found himself in danger twice, giving up a total of 5 hits and 1 BB, while striking out 5 on 86 pitches. He got ahead early in the count more often than not, starting with a strike on 12 of the 22 batters he faced. Ray handed the ball off to Evan Reed with 2 on and 1 out in the 6th, and was credited with one earned run, after Dexter Fowler scored from 3rd on a dropped pop-up by Ian Kinsler that was ultimately ruled a Fielder’s Choice – Kinsler picked up his drop and got the force on Jason Castro at second for the out. Ray left to a standing ovation from Tigers fans. Realists will note that this impressive debut may have been aided by the relative hitting ineptitude of the opponent (Houston’s team BA was tied for dead last in MLB with San Diego coming into the game) but we’ve got less time for realists in this post than we do for those who like to party… er, I mean look on the bright side. With a Miggy homer and the extension of a few solid hitting streaks to boot, I encourage Tigers fans take their sweet time basking in the glow of a well-earned W from Robbie Ray and the home team. After all, we may not see him for a while after Sunday. (Sanchez will likely come off the DL and Ray will likely be sent back to Toledo after he gets his 2nd big league start this Sunday against Minnesota.)
Evan Reed also earned a little appreciation tonight, stepping in for 1 2/3 innings and allowing zero runs, while ending the inherited 6th inning threat with a single pitch (he got Guzman to ground into double play). The Amazing Al Al “slid” a few coins of his own into the pitching kitty, striking out two in a 1-2-3 8th. Justin Miller started the 9th for the Tigers and was the only real blemish in an otherwise breezy outing, surrendering 3 hits and 3 runs (though only 1 was earned) before shutting the door for good.
Oh yeah, about those 11 Tigers runs. (Note, I added digits the number I originally had there 3 times as I was trying to get ahead of this recap.)
Detroit hitters feasted on mediocre pitching, which is what good lineups do. That didn’t make it any less impressive. With 18 total hits (many sprayed around “TwinsHit” style) and 5 combined RBI by the likes of Danny Worth and JD Martinez, there wasn’t much missing from the Tigers offensive arsenal.
Miggy had his 12th career 4-hit, 4-RBI night, further silencing early season doubters with a solo (should have been 2-run but Torii made a base-stealing blunder) homer, two singles and a rocket double to left-center. His batting average is now at .293 and he’s hit .308 over the last 7 days. Ian Kinsler had 3 hits from the leadoff spot. Avila, Castellanos, Worth and Hunter chipped in 2 hits apiece with Torii contributing an RBI and extending his hitting streak to 13 games. Austin Jackson joined the fun as well, with a single and a swipe of 3rd base that led to an easy trot home courtesy of Worth’s sac fly. Lest we forget, Victor did Victor-y things again, driving in Danny Worth with a single in the bottom of the third. After a 9th inning RBI single by JD Martinez that made it 11-1 Tigers, we had witnessed the 4th time in 5 days that every Tigers batter got a hit in the game.
At the risk of sounding insensitive, playing the Astros is good for fan morale. The Tigers have now won 7 in a row and continue to impress from both the plate and the hill. They’ll play the third of a four game home set against Houston tomorrow at 7:08 Eastern. Rick Porcello (4-1, 3.66 ERA) will face Brad Peacock (0-2, 5.26 ERA) and yet more puns will ensue.
It’s been fun. Goodnight, Tigers fans.