Detroit Tigers vs. Astros: Now That Was Fun – Game 2 Recap
Just when the Detroit Tigers look like they are down and out, they decide to play good baseball. Both teams did, but the Tigers did it better than the Astros tonight at Minute Maid Park.
After a first inning where Justin Verlander forgot that batting practice happens before the game starts, the team pulled out a scrappy win against the athletic Astros. JV threw 106 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 3 runs (all in the first inning), striking out 8, allowing 7 hits, and walking 2.
While this was far from JV’s best outing, he did recover but not without the help of the defense.
The defensive highlights of the game were the double plays. In an interesting twist, the Tigers led the league in 2015 in being the recipients of double plays with 154 or nearly one per game. No, they are dishing them out to their opponents. The team is quickly closing in on the top spot for double plays turned in 2016 and they have had very few turned against them – only 6 in 10 games. Not bad.
The pitching highlights came from the bullpen. Brad Ausmus had his arsenal available, so he went with the posse of Justin Wilson, Mark Lowe, and Francisco Rodriguez. They allowed one hit between the three of them, proving that Al Avila did do significant good in the offseason. After many years of stomach-churning late innings, it is refreshing to actually enjoy watching the relievers and closers. Could this be the end of the bullpen-making-me-drink jokes?
Offensive highlights came from several players. The team had 15 hits, including several extra-base hits from Miguel Cabrera, Jose Iglesias, and Nick Castellanos. Victor Martinez had two doubles; the second one bounced up Tal’s Hill earning his 998th RBI. Jarrod Saltalamacchia continued his clutch hitting with a big home run off the right-field foul pole in the sixth inning.
The best offensive news was not that Castellanos went three for five today, but that Cabrera did, too. In the six prior games, Cabrera had one or fewer hits, which for him is a slump. He still only has one home run on the season, but this was his first multi-hit game since Opening Day at Comerica Park, which was also the day he hit the home run.
What are the big takeaways from this game?
First, there are nine innings and every one of them matters. The Tigers did not stop playing tough, despite the fact that they were down for the first half of the game.
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Second, the Tigers need to work on their baserunning. There is something going on at third base. Castellanos made a repeat of Kinsler’s running error from yesterday’s game. Justin Upton could not score from the base. Something is happening. The oracle needs to be consulted.
Third, good baseball is enjoyable to watch. Fans saw it today, from both teams and it was fun. Power hitting, thoughtful pitching, and shifty pitch framing kept it interesting at the plate. Bad calls were properly (and quickly) reversed. Double plays were made with style. Home runs were hit. Players came through in clutch situations. It was good baseball, by both teams. But, better baseball was played by Detroit tonight.
Next: What to Know about the Houston Series
Bring on game three! Go Tigers!!