Sanchez, Reanimated Nathan Help Tigers Salvage Series Finale

Kansas City’s ten game winning streak came to an end on Thursday as the Tigers won the makeup game to cap off a four game set against the Royals 2-1.

THE GOOD

  • Under normal circumstances, in a 2-1 game that had a solid starting pitching performance, I wouldn’t start with the closer. But I’ve done so much Joe Nathan bashing that I need to open with Joe Nathan’s performance today. He came into a 2-1 ballgame in the 9th to face the Royals’ 4-5-6 hitters and struck all three of them out on 15 pitches with five swings and misses, three of them on sliders. His fastball averaged 94.5 MPH and touched 95. In short, he looked like the Joe Nathan of old. He said he’d worked on his arm slot and Brooks Baseball’s release point charts bear that out (here’s today’s compared with June 7, when he struggled against Boston). One good outing doesn’t make the questions go away, but it’s definitely encouraging, and it should help Nathan’s confidence as well.
  • Anibal Sanchez continues to be Detroit’s best pitcher. It was an odd outing today, as he went seven strong innings… without striking anyone out. He walked one and gave up five hits and one run, which scored on a two-out Billy Butler hit in the first. He’s Detroit’s stopper right now.
  • The Tigers actually didn’t do much against Danny Duffy – they only had three hits off him in seven frames, but they were wise enough to bunch them together and get them all in the same inning. Austin Jackson – batting second today in a Brad Ausmus lineup shakeup – singled to lead off the fourth. Miguel Cabrera doubled him in on a fly ball to the deepest part of left center field. Cabrera ended up getting tagged out at second after the next out in a lazy baserunning error, but the tie was still broken as the suddenly indispensable J.D. Martinez homered over the right field fence to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead that would stand up.

THE BAD

  • Well, they didn’t hit much. As we said, all three of their hits off Danny Duffy came in the fourth. They were quiet in every other inning and the only other hit came in the 8th when Bryan Holaday came up with a bunt single against reliever Aaron Crow. The Tigers did a fair amount of threatening in the first two games of the series, despite losing. That dried up in the last two.

A good win for the Tigers, especially with a nine game road trip coming up. They’re off to Cleveland – the place where this swoon began – for a three game series starting tomorrow night.

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