May 31, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) hits a two-run home run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
The story of this game was the Detroit Tigers’ half of the fourth inning. The game was tied 1-1 heading into the fourth — Matt Tuiasosopo singled in a run in the second and J.J. Hardy answered with a solo home run in the bottom of the third — but the Detroit bats broke the game wide open with an eight-run inning.
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to get the scoring started, but it did take long for the Orioles to get an out.
Victor Martinez lead off the inning with a solo home run to right field, Jhonny Peralta followed him with a solo home run to left field, and Alex Avila made it back-to-back-to-back with a home run to left center.
Baltimore starting pitcher Jason Hammel was ejected one batter later after hitting Tuiasosopo with what looked like a breaking ball that got away from him. Whatever the intent, it doesn’t look good when you hit a batter after the opponent touches you up for three consecutive home runs. Especially when the batter is hit high.
The inning was far from over, however. Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate a few batters later with the bases loaded (and still no one out) and took reliever T.J. McFarland deep for a grand slam — Miggy’s 17th home run (and 65th RBI) of the year.
Baltimore would put a couple more runs on the board — including another Hardy solo homer — but the Tigers wouldn’t be caught in this game (Prince Fielder added a solo homer of his own in the sixth inning).
Justin Verlander wasn’t overly fantastic in this game, but he picked up a quality start, going seven innings of three run ball with five strikeouts. The lack of his elite velocity this season still concerns me a bit — along with the fact that he’s been very un-Verlandery recently — but the Detroit rotation is so deep that they don’t need him to be the Verlander of the last two years to win 90 games and a division crown. A return to utter dominance would bode well heading into the postseason and for the life of his new contract, however.
The Tigers are in first place at 30-24 — that’s 90 win pace.