There will officially be no 162-0 team in 2014 as MLB’s sole remaining undefeated team, the Detroit Tigers, dropped their first game of the season in the series finale with the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park on Sunday afternoon.
Aside from another day, another Torii Hunter home run, Detroit’s bats went silent and wasted a solid effort from Justin Verlander. Justin went eight innings (112 pitches) allowing five hits, two runs, walking two, and striking out three.
The Tigers scored 17 runs through the first two games against the Orioles but could only muster one run and five hits for Verlander. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Nick Castellanos accounted for the other hits for Detroit. Only two Tigers batters–other than Hunter on the four-bagger–reached second base on the day.
Chris Tillman was masterful for the Orioles. The team’s ace nearly went the distance, which was exactly what the doctor ordered for Baltimore’s battered bullpen. He left with one out in the ninth after Martinez notched his second hit of the game, a double down the right field line. Detroit couldn’t capitalize on the ninth inning rally, however, as Austin Jackson struck out and Tyler Collins, still looking for his first major league hit, grounded to second.
A recurring and troubling theme from this series continued to plague Detroit in the finale. Instead of protecting a sizeable lead, the Tigers bullpen entered the ninth trying to keep the game within one run with the heart of the Tigers lineup coming up in the bottom of the ninth. Al Alburquerque allowed three straight hits, including an insurance home run off the bat of Matt Wieters.
Despite the bullpen struggles and defensive miscues, a 4-1 home stand to start the season is nothing to sneeze at. Still, those problems don’t seem to be going away any time soon.
- With a strikeout of Steve Lombardozzi in the fifth inning, Verlander moved into fourth place on the all-time Detroit Tigers’ strikeout list. He has around 1,000 strikeouts to catch the all-time Tigers’ K leader, Mickey Lolich.
- Alex Avila has had a rough start at the plate in 2014, hitting under .100, and took some bumps and knocks in typical Avila fashion so it came as no surprise when Bryan Holaday received his first start of 2014 behind the plate.
- With Holaday receiving the start, every position player on the roster has received at least one start and every pitcher has appeared at least once.
The Tigers prepare for a west coast trip with an off-day on Monday. They’ll play their first night games of the year at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday, which means the dreaded after 10 p.m. start time for most Tigers’ fans.