Apr 23, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) takes the ball to relieve relief pitcher Evan Reed (57) in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Drew Smyly was looking to bounce back from a rough outing against the Los Angeles Angels last weekend — in which he allowed four runs in only three innings while needing to use 82 pitches — but the first inning didn’t go well for the young left-hander on Wednesday night. He struck out Marcus Semien to lead off the game, but a single by Leury Garcia and a home run to deep center field off the bat of Jose Abreu put the Chicago White Sox up 2-0 early.
Fortunately the rough stretch wouldn’t continue for Smyly. He kept the Sox off the board for the rest of his six innings, finishing with a quality line of 6 IP, 7 SO, 1 BB, 6 H, 2 ER, and facing just one batter over the minimum from innings two through six.
Offensively, Chicago starting pitcher Andre Rienzo kept the Detroit hitters off the base paths and found himself in very little trouble. Except for the fourth inning, that is. Don Kelly led off the inning with a walk and Miguel Cabrera followed with a sharp base hit to left field to put the first two runners on. Victor Martinez then grounded out to second base, but both runners were able to advance into scoring position and J.D. Martinez drove them both home to tie the game at 2-2 with a single to center field. Austin Jackson immediately followed with a home run to left field to put Detroit on top. Nick Casellanos and Alex Avila would each fly out two end the inning, but the Tigers suddenly had a 4-2 lead.
Unfortunately it wouldn’t hold. Evan Reed took over for Smyly to start the seventh inning and gave up two hits and a walk to load the bases while only recording one out. Ian Krol was called in to get the team out of the jam but, after inducing a pop up off the bat of Jordan Danks, served up a full-count fastball that Marcus Semien deposited over the left field fence for a two-out grand slam. He would get Garcia to bounce out to end the inning, and Justin Miller would pitch two scoreless innings to prevent further damage, but the Chicago’s 6-4 lead would prove to be insurmountable.
The Tigers offense put up a valiant effort in the bottom of the ninth. Victor Martinez led things off with a base hit, but J.D. Martinez’s 419 foot fly ball was hit to the wrong part of the ballpark. One out. Austin Jackson walked to put the tying run on, but Nick Castellanos‘ opposite-field fly ball also could only reach the warning track. Two out. Alex Avila worked the count to 3-0 in his favor and then got the pitch he wanted, but the line drive that he ripped down the line was right at Abreu who gloved it to end the game.
I’m not really sure why Evan Reed is the first choice to protect a two-run lead in the seventh inning, but I guess the Tigers don’t really have that many options. Unless something changes this isn’t going to be the last time the pen blows a winnable game like this.