4-1, 1st in AL Central
The game was essentially put away with two exceptional plays by Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis. In the top of the eighth, Markakis lined a 79 mph curveball from Verlander into the right field corner for a triple with one out. The pitch wasn't even a hanger, just a good job by Markakis to hit a good pitch. A few pitches later, Adam Jones broke the 1-1 tie with a loud sacrifice fly to the left field warning track that Tyler Collins had to hustle to run down. In the bottom of the frame and also with one out, Markakis robbed Ian Kinsler of a base hit with a great diving catch. Since Markakis left his feet, it's reasonable to assume extra bases for Kinsler if he let the ball find the grass. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Markakis simply beat them with two great plays.
News and Notes
- Verlander was very solid in his eight innings, though he did strikeout just three of the 31 Orioles he faced on Sunday. Hard to complain about a guy with a 2.57 ERA in two starts, but it sure would be nice to see JV missing bats like the Verlander of old. According to MLB Network, his five strikeouts are the lowest two-game strikeout total since 2011. It's definitely something to watch as the season goes on. As for Sunday, it was the fourth time in Verlander's career he's tossed eight or more innings while allowing two or fewer runs and earned the loss. Hard to win when your team only scores one run.
- Chris Tillman was pretty good himself. He made a mistake to Torii Hunter with a high fastball that caught too much of the plate and was promptly deposited in the left field bullpen. Tillman bounced back and would strikeout Torii for the last out of the eighth with a high fastball outside the zone. He walked just one man all day and that was Tyler Collins, which was weird because he's yet to record his first major league hit. I mean, what was he afraid of there? Beats me, but it still happened. Baseball's weird, man.
- The 38 year old Hunter hit a home run for the third game in a row. Nice work, dad. Not his fault there weren't nearly as many base runners on for him as there were yesterday. It was the fourth time in his career that he's hit a home run in three consecutive games. Who cares if he can't field easy fly balls anymore? Dad's on pace for 97 home runs. Keep it up, take me to see R-rated movies, let me sit on your lap and drive. Ok, you get it.
- Al Alburquerque wasn't good in the ninth inning on Sunday. He allowed three hits including an opposite field blast by Matt Wieters. Also, at one point in the inning Brad Ausmus yelled at Bryan (why can't the Tigers just have one guy ever spell it Brian?) Holaday to go out and "tell him to change his looks." I don't think Alburquerque is all that ugly and, hey, who knows, maybe that look has been working for him. Oh, wait, I think Ausmus meant something else, like maybe there was a problem with Alburquerque's delivery. Oh, ohhh.
- I hate to say it, but this was kind of a boring game actually, which is why the recap is a little light. Neither team had much going offensively and the starting pitchers weren't really dominant. The Alburquerque inning certainly wasn't fun to watch and even when Victor Martinez doubled in the ninth to chase Tillman it didn't feel like the Tigers were going to rally and they didn't. Austin Jackson struck out swinging and Collins grounded out weakly to end the game.
Around the Org Scores
AAA Toledo Mud Hens
1-2, 3rd in West Division
- Robbie Ray went five innings without allowing an earned run in his Tigers organization debut and picked up a win for his efforts. Casey Crosby and Melvin Mercedes both pitched scoreless innings with Mercedes picking up the save in the ninth.
AA Erie Seawolves
2-1, 2rd in Western Division
A+ Lakeland Flying Tigers
3-1, t-1st in North Division
A West Michigan Whitecaps
2-2, t-5th in North Division
About the Daily Smoko
Smoko is an Australian and New Zealand term for a short cigarette break during work. It can also describe a short coffee or tea break. TigsTown does not condone or support smoking, but it is a nice way to honor former manager Jim Leyland, and have you guys read recaps while you should probably be working.
Nick Shlain is TigsTown's staff writer and resident eccentric. He once saw Red Sox fans throwing nickels at Bobby Higginson during a game and did nothing to stop it. You can follow him on twitter @electricsnuff