Drew Smyly experienced the shortest outing of his season, and the Detroit Tigers were in an early hole against the Houston Astros that they could not completely emerge from on Sunday. Detroit lost the final game of their three-city, nine-game road trip, 6-4.
Smyly allowed four earned runs on eight hits. He got into early trouble in the first when Jose Altuve did what he has done all series long, get on base and cause havoc for the Tigers’ defense. Smyly had him picked up first, but Miguel Cabrera‘s throw from first base was dropped by Eugenio Suarez covering second base. Two pitches later, George Springer doubled down the left field line to bring Altuve home with ease. Two more runs would score in the inning, and Drew wouldn’t get out of the third inning.
Losing 3-0, the Tigers chipped away at the lead, scoring once in the third when Torii Hunter doubled home Andrew Romine, but the Astros immediately got the run back in the bottom of the third, which chased Smyly. Alex Avila hit a solo homer in the fifth to pull within two, but the Astros scored in the bottom of the sixth to make it 5-2.
It seemed every time the Tigers got some momentum, the Astros answered back. With two out in the eighth, Victor Martinez walked, J.D. Martinez singled, and Nick Castellanos stepped to the plate and hit a triple to score two. Ian Kinsler, yesterday’s hero, had received the first seven innings off, but was pressed into service as a pinch hitter. He struck out to strand the tying run at third, ending the threat. Houston added a run in the bottom of the eighth to seal the deal.
All told, the bullpen did not fare too poorly considering they were pressed into service very early. Pat McCoy and Blaine Hardy each allowed a run, and Hardy’s was particularly costly after the Tigers had climbed back into the game.
A lot may be made of Brad Ausmus‘ decision to sit Kinsler for most of the game, giving the Tigers’ hottest hitter a day off, but Cabrera and V-Mart earned one hit between them in the entire series, which is one of the factors why Detroit lost two-of-three (and was nearly swept). Additionally, for the first time in 2014, Austin Jackson was inserted into the lead-off spot in an attempt to “get him going,” according to Ausmus. He went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and made the game’s final out, also via strikeout.
Though dropping a series to a last place team is never ideal, looking at the positive, the Tigers did go 7-2 on one of their longest road trips of the season.
They’ll head home to face the American League-leading Oakland Athletics for three games beginning Monday night.