The Detroit Tigers Refuse to Fade, Defeat the Red Sox, 5-1


Just when you think you’re out the Detroit Tigers keep pulling you back in. They pounded knuckleballer Steven Wright for four runs in 4-and-one-third innings to cruise to a 5-1 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Alfredo Simon (9-6) pitched six strong innings, giving up just one run on five hits. He left the game in the seventh after throwing one pitch to Pablo Sandoval but today the Tigers bullpen came through. Ian Kroll, Alex Wilson and Joakim Soria threw one-hit ball the rest of the way to lock down the win.

Major League hitters love nothing better than facing a knuckleballer who’s struggling with command of his pitch and the Tigers took advantage of that today. Yoenis Cespedes opened the offensive barrage off Wright (3-4) by crushing a towering home run in the first to give them a 1-0 lead.

In the second and fourth the Tigers capitalized on the miseries of Boston catcher Blake Swihart. In the second, J.D. Martinez walked and advanced on a passed ball. With one out Alex Avila struck out but reached first on another Swihart passed ball while Martinez advanced to third. He scored on a fielders choice to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

In the fourth the Martinez connection, Victor and J.D., opened the inning with singles and advance to second and third on another Swihart knuckleball misplay. Nick Castellanos followed by ripping a  1-1  pitch to the deepest part of Fenway Park for an RBI double, increasing the lead to 4-0.

Castellanos closed the scoring in the sixth with a tape-measure smash that cleared over everything in left field, his second 400-plus foot smash this week, to make the score 5-0.

The Tigers not only shook the dust off their bats today, they also brought the gloves out to play, at least until the ninth inning.

In the second, Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield shocked everyone watching the game in person and on TV when he decided to challenge Cespedes’ arm, sending David Ortiz home on a ground-ball single by Hanley Ramirez. Ortiz was out easily on a play that needed no review. In the sixth, shortstop Julio Iglesias ranged far into left on a pop-fly by Ramirez to make a difficult back-to-the-infield catch look like a routine play.

In the ninth, with Xander Bogaerts on first with none out, Ortiz lifted a lazy pop-fly to second base. Kinsler watched the ball miss his glove by a foot and fall untouched at his feet. He did pick it up quickly and toss it to second for the force-out but what he was seeing while the ball dropped is still a mystery.

The Tigers will try and make Dave Dombrowski’s eventual trade deadline decision even more difficult when they attempt to win the series against the Red Sox tomorrow night. Shane Greene (4-7) will start for the Tigers against Eduardo Rodriguez (5-3).