The Detroit Tigers wasted an opportunity to end their losing streak in a 5-4 walk-off defeat at the hands of the Washington Nationals to extend their losing streak to 7 games. This game was marred by bad managing, poor clutch performances, and another Mark Lowe collapse.
The Tigers got on the board first in this one. Ian Kinsler led off the game with a walk. He advanced to second on a ground ball from Miguel Cabrera. Clean-up batter Nick Castellanos then got the Tigers on the board with a home run to left field to give the Tigers the 2-0 lead.
The Nationals cut into the Tigers’ lead in the bottom of the 4th. Anthony Rendon led off the inning with the dreaded leadoff walk and stole second base. Daniel Murphy then hit a 2-out flare to center field to bring home Rendon and halve the lead to 2-1.
The Tigers stretched their lead in the top of the fifth. Strasburg’s 7-year $175 million contract was just leaked, and Strasburg, obviously hearing the grumbling, let up since he was no longer in a contract year. Kinsler led off the inning with a single to right field. J.D. Martinez then busted out of his slump with a line-drive home run to right field to give the Tigers the 4-1 lead.
The Nationals trimmed the Tigers lead once again in the 6th. Bryce Harper walked and was erased on a Ryan Zimmerman fielder’s choice. Murphy then added to his RBI total on the night with a two-run home run on a low-inside fastball to cut the lead to 4-3. It was a pitch that shouldn’t have been called by James McCann behind the plate and a pitch that should not have been thrown by Sanchez.
Anibal Sanchez was given the chance to pitch in the 7th as he led off the 7th at the plate, and it was a mistake. Michael Taylor singled off the wall to lead the inning off. Danny Espinosa singled on a weak ground ball through the right side of the infield to put runners on first and third. After a conference at the mound, Brad Ausmus left Sanchez in the game to face Strasburg. Strasburg bunted down the first base line and Sanchez dropped it to load the bases and end his night with the bases loaded.
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Kyle Ryan then entered the game for the Tigers and got Ben Revere to fly out, but it was a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4. Alex Wilson then entered the game and retired Rendon on a three-pitch strikeout. With runners on first and third, the Tigers intentionally walked Harper to face Zimmerman who popped out to Cabrera to end the bases loaded threat.
In the top of the 8th, the Tigers threatened, but traded enough poor managerial decisions not to score. Miguel Cabrera walked to lead off the inning, and Dusty Baker pulled Strasburg after one batter after allowing him to hit with two on and none out in the prior inning while trailing by a run (mistake 1). Nick Castellanos singled Cabrera to second, where he looked to injure himself on a slide. On the next pitch, Cabrera was thrown out at third trying to move up on a wild pitch.
Upton then struck out to bring James McCann’s place in the order up to the plate. With a base open, the Tigers pinch hit Victor Martinez (mistake 2) who was instantly intentionally walked. Jarrod Saltalamacchia then pinch hit for Anthony Gose while Andrew Romine pinch ran for Martinez. The left-handed Felipe Rivero turned Saltalamacchia around to the right side who struck out to end the inning.
If Saltalamacchia was used instead of Martinez first, an IBB would have brought Victor to the plate with 2 runners on base and Salty may not have faced a LHP. Some may call it second guessing, but Dan Dickerson called this shot as soon as the inning started.
In the bottom of the 9th, Mark Lowe entered trying to wipe away Sunday’s performance. Lowe retired Danny Espinosa looking and ejected Bryce Harper for arguing balls and strikes for the second time on the night. Clint Robinson then hit a pinch-hit walk-off home run to give the Nationals the 5-4 victory.
During the celebration, Harper re-entered the field for the celebration, then quickly sent a message to the umpire with an expletive. It will be interested to see if any action will be taken against him for that action.