Tigers beat Astros again
Weird team, these Tigers.
They go to St. Louis and take two of three from one of the best teams in baseball.
Then they come home to play Milwaukee and lose two of three against one of the worst teams in baseball.
And now they've taken the first two games of a four-game series against the Astros, who came into the series with the most wins in baseball.
The Tigers won, 6-2, on Friday at Comerica Park, thanks to a big eighth inning -- sparked by two-out RBI hits from Rajai Davis and James McCann, who also happened to be Thursday's hero.
J.D. Martinez also hit a big three-run homer in the third inning.
Alfredo Simon (5-2) went seven strong innings, allowing no earned runs, for his first win Since April 25.
Collin McHugh (5-2) pitched well for Houston, but took the loss.
Joba Chamberlain had perhaps his best outing of the year, working a 1-2-3 eighth inning, with a strikeout. And Tom Gorzelanny, called in after the save situation went kaput in the eighth inning, got the Astros 1-2-3 in the ninth, also with a sttrikeout.
The series resumes at 4:08 p.m. Saturday, when Detroit's Kyle Lobstein faces Houston rookie Lance McCullers.
Tigers get key insurance runs
Thursday in the eighth inning, the Tigers had a runner on second and nobody out, and couldn't score him. That was huge, as the Astros tied the game in the ninth inning.
They didn't make the same mistake Friday, though it looked like they would.
Rajai Davis legged out a two-out, infield single to drive in a run, and then James McCann smashed a two-run single to blow open the game and give the Tigers a 6-2 lead heading to the ninth inning.
Joakim Soria was up and throwing when it was a one-run lead, but he won't be needed now. Tom Gorzelanny will work the ninth.
Miguel Cabrera led off the eighth against Astros reliever Chad Qualls with a single down the right-field line.
After J.D. Martinez struck out, Yoenis Cespedes hit a grounder down the third-base line that got under Luis Valbuena's glove, putting runners at second and third with one out.
Then Nick Castellanos struck out, which gave this eighth inning a familiar feeling.
But Davis came up big with an infield single to the hole at shortstop, and McCann followed with the single up the middle to drive in two more. That's a heck of a two days for McCann, the hero Thursday.
The Tigers took the one-run lead into the bottom of the eighth thanks to solid work by Joba Chamberlain in his one inning of relief. He pitched a perfect eighth, striking out one. It's the best he's looked in quite some time.
Simon with another gem outing
A big question mark at the beginning of the season, Tigers starter Alfredo Simon just keeps on impressing -- his bosses, the fans, everyone.
Simon went seven sharp innings Friday night against the Astros at Comerica Park, allowing just four hits and two runs, neither of which was earned.
He struck out five -- Colby Rasmus three times, Chris Carter twice -- and walked only one.
It appears Joba Chamberlain, not Angel Nesbitt, will be pitching the eighth inning with the Tigers clinging to a 3-2 lead.
In his last three starts, Simon has allowed just three earned runs in 20;2 innings.
But he's looking for his first win since April 25.
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Gose caught stealing home -- sort of
The Tigers had a little something going in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Anthony Gose laced a long double to left field and Miguel Cabrera drew a two-out walk after a 10-pitch battle.
That put runners on the corners for J.D. Martinez, who hit the three-run homer last time up. This time, though, he quickly fell behind 0-2 against Astros starter Collin McHugh.
So, on the next pitch, Cabrera took off from first on a delayed steal, then stopped about three-quarters of the way to second -- all in an effort to get the speedy Gose home for a big run.
It almost worked.
Astros catcher Jason Castro fired down to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who then fired a strike back home, where Castro made a great block of home plate to barely get the inning-ending out on Gose.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus thought about challenging, but the call appeared correct, albeit close.
The Tigers lead 3-2 heading to the sixth inning.
Martinez puts Tigers in front
J.D. Martinez hit a long one to left field, but it was just foul.
The very next pitch from Astros starter Collin McHugh, Martinez went to right field instead -- for a long three-run homer to give the Tigers the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the third inning.
The Astros took the 2-0 lead in the top half of the inning.
That was the ninth homer of the season for Martinez, and it was a big one, coming with two outs.
Jose Iglesias led off with a single to right, and Anthony Gose followed with a perfect bunt between the pitcher and first, giving the Tigers two on and nobody out. Ian Kinsler, with a chance to redeem himself for the big error in the top of the third, flew out to right, and McHugh struck out Miguel Cabrera on a nasty curveball.
That brought up Martinez, who launched one way out to left, but foul. He then brought the crowd alive with the homer to right.
That's a big boost for a Tigers offense that's struggled lately, and can't afford to let those opportunities slip away.
Kinsler's error gives Astros early lead
Ian Kinsler is a great second baseman. He had just made a great play.
But he then bobbled a ball with two out in the third inning, allowing the Astros to take the early 2-0 lead Friday night.
Alfredo Simon gave up a leadoff double to Jason Castros, who then was bunted to third by Miguel Gonzalez. Simon then got Jason Altuve to line to second, where Kinsler made a great stab.
And it looked like Simon would get out of it when Luis Valbuena grounded slowly to second.
But you could see it coming -- Kinsler was indecisive on whether to charge it or stay back, the ball played him, he bobbled it and the Astros took a 1-0 lead. It was just Kinsler's second error of the season.
The next hitter, George Springer, made the Tigers pay even more, when he blasted an RBI double over Anthony Gose's head in center field.
Tigers, Astros scoreless through two
Rajai Davis is back in the lineup, and, of course, he just keeps on swinging.
He had a shot single down the first-base line with one out in the second inning to give the Tigers a little life, but he never got a chance to steal with Astros starter Collin McHugh effectively using the slide step.
And James McCann followed with a 6-4-3, inning-ending double play.
That was the MLB-most 45th double play the Tigers have grounded into this season.
The game is scoreless through two innings, as Tigers starter Alfredo Simon is looking sharp early. He had a 1-2-3 second innig, striking out Astros Colby Rasmus and Chris Carter.
Tigers threat fizzles in first
Collin McHugh is the type of pitcher that has given the Tigers fits this season -- a soft-tossing right-hander. Throw in the fact that it's a night game, and this has the makings of another Detroit power outage.
The Tigers had a threat in the first inning, when Miguel Cabrera laced a two-out double to the corner in right field, and then J.D. Martinez (allegedly) was hit by a pitch to put two runners up for Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes had reached base his last nine times to the plate, but he struck out on three pitches, the last one in the dirt.
So it's 0-0 after one.
Tigers starter Alfredo Simon allowed a two-out single to Astros slugger George Springer in the first, and then fell behind slugger Evan Gattis 3-0 -- but Gattis swung 3-0 and popped out to right, where Martinez made a fine running catch.
Only one lefty in Tigers lineup
The Tigers have struggled against a lot of right-handed pitchers this year. That's what happens when you have a right-handed-heavy lineup, as the Tigers do.
Yet, given the opportunity to sprinkle in another left-handed bat or two, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus balked for Friday night's game against the Astros at Comerica Park.
Anthony Gose is the only lefty Tigers hitter, and he'll be leading off.
That means the Tigers will run eighth straight right-handed hitters against Astros starter Collin McHugh.
Rajai Davis is getting the start at designated hitter, not Tyler Collins.
The Tigers have lost two of their lefty bats, Alex Avila and Victor Martinez (switch-hitter), to the disabled list.
Tigers, Astros set for Game 2
The Tigers (25-17) continue their four-game series with the Astros on Friday at Comerica Park (FSD/WXYT). First pitch is 7:08.
Right-hander Alfredo Simon (4-2, 3.04 ERA) starts for the Tigers, with right-hander Collin McHugh (5-1, 3.38) for the Astros.
In his last outing Sunday against the Cardinals, Simon took his second loss of the season. He gave up two runs on seven hits with four walks and four strikeouts in six innings
Here are the starting lineups for both teams:
1. Jose Altuve, 2B
2. Luis Valbuena, 3B
3. George Springer, RF
4. Evan Gattis, DH
5. Preston Tucker, LF
6. Colby Rasmus, CF
7. Chris Carter, 1B
8. Jason Castro, C
9. Marwin Gonzalez, SS
SP. Collin McHugh, RH
1. Anthony Gose, CF
2. Ian Kinsler, 2B
3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
4. J.D. Martinez, RF
5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
7. Rajai Davis, DH
8. James McCann, C
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
SP. Alfredo Simon