Punchless Tigers stung again in extra innings
Boston — Repeat the sad and tired refrain.
When the Tigers hit, they don't pitch. And when they pitch — well, a game like Friday's happens.
A strong effort from David Price was wasted Thursday by an offense that went scoreless from the second through the 12th inning. Another strong, encouraging effort from Justin Verlander was wasted Friday, as they managed one run in 11 innings.
"You can't score five or six runs every night but you have to figure out a way to score one more than the other team," said Alex Avila after the Tigers lost 2-1 in 11 innings to a struggling Red Sox team that had dropped eight straight.
The Tigers fall two games below .500 (47-49) for the first time this season. They are five games behind the Twins for the second wild card spot.
"It's tough," said Verlander, who allowed a run and seven hits through eight innings. "We expect to win. We need to win. We have to start winning now."
The Red Sox scored the winner in the 11th against Blaine Hardy. Mookie Betts lead off the 11th with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Brock Holt.
Xander Bogaerts singled to center. Anthony Gose's strong throw made the play at the plate close enough that manager Brad Ausmus challenged the call.
"I knew he was by me," said Avila, who seemed to impede Betts' slide. "I was banking on maybe getting my foot in there to keep his second foot from hitting the plate and hope his second foot was in the air — which it was. His knee and shin got in there, just barely, before I could tag him.
"You wish you could block the plate, but it was a close play."
With one out and first base open, Ausmus decided not to walk Bogaerts with switch-hitting Pablo Sandoval on deck.
"No because if you don't get a double play from Sandoval then you have to face (Hanley) Ramirez," Ausmus said.
The Tigers, who managed one run off former teammate Rick Porcello over seven innings, squandered a golden chance to score in the top of the 11th.
Against Justin Masterson, a pitcher they have pummeled over the years, Ian Kinsler singled and Yoenis Cespedes walked with one out.
Both runners were going on a 3-2 pitch to Victor Martinez — strike out, caught stealing at third. Inning over.
"You have a guy on the mound that gets 60 percent ground balls and a guy at the plate who doesn't strike out or move very well," Ausmus said. "There was the danger of the double play. If they're running, they are either safe or they get the out at first. You try to play the percentages and the percentages were in our favor."
The Tigers have managed just one run in the last 22 innings. The run came in the third on a double by Jose Iglesias and a single by Kinsler, who had three hits.
Porcello, who came in with a 5.79 ERA, allowed just five hits and fanned six.
"You are always a little nervous when a player faces a team that traded him away," Ausmus said. "There's always a little extra incentive."
The Tigers missed a chance to score in the eighth inning, too. Kinsler, who had flown out to the wall in center in the sixth, hit one off the wall for a triple with two outs off Junichi Tazawa.
Cespedes, also a former Red Sox, lost an epic battle with Tazawa. He worked the count 3-2 and fouled off several high fastballs before striking out.
"We have to forget about it," Avila said. "It was a good game today. Obviously you want to win. We've had two tough losses back to back, but tomorrow we have to come back. The only way to win the series is to win tomorrow."