Ortiz sends Tigers to defeat — again
Detroit — Justin Upton rounded first and thrust his right arm triumphantly into the air.
He thought he’d hit a two-out, game-tying home run off Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the ninth inning.
A few steps later his heart sank. The ball hit off the center field wall, inches from landing into the shrubbery.
“I hit that ball about as well as I can hit it,” he said. “Just ended up a double.”
Kimbrel struck out Casey McGehee to end the game, and the Red Sox prevailed 3-2 on a rain-soaked Saturday night.
“I was obviously shocked,” Upton said. “But at the same time, you know what yard you play in. It’s a pretty big yard out there.”
It was the Tigers’ 10th loss in 13 games and in the last six games, they’ve mustered 11 runs.
“They say it’s a game of inches,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We were a few inches from tying the game. But we have to find a way to chalk up a few more runs. We are struggling offensively.”
As has been their pattern of late, it’s feast or famine.
James McCann led off the third inning with his 10th home run of the season. That was against Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz, who allowed just three other hits through five innings.
J.D. Martinez, who continues to mash in the month of August, hit his 18th home run off reliever Heath Hembree in the seventh. It was his second homer in two games, a 431-foot bomb deep into the seats in left field.
He extended his hitting streak to 11 games and is hitting .438 with five doubles and six homers this month.
But, again, no homers, no runs for the Tigers. They put multiple runners on base in just two innings.
Upton and McGehee singled to start the bottom of the fifth against Pomeranz, but McCann hit into a double play and Andrew Romine grounded out.
In the eighth, reliever Matt Barnes walked McCann and Kinsler. But he got Erick Aybar to swing at the first pitch and pop out to shallow left field.
At that point, Red Sox manager John Farrell summoned Kimbrel to face Miguel Cabrera, who lined out to left to end the inning.
“We have to find a way to score runs,” Ausmus said. “It’s a little frustrating because it feels like we’re wasting pitching performances.”
After the start of the game was delayed by rain for 1 hour and 20 minutes, the Tigers honored retiring Red Sox slugger David Ortiz with a video tribute and a large, framed photograph from his appearance in the 2005 All-Star Game at Comerica Park. Victor Martinez, Al Avila and Cabrera presented it to him.
Nice, classy ceremony.
Which Ortiz repaid by doing what he’s done for the better part of his 20-year career — he terrorized the Tigers, going 3-for-4 including a two-run home run off starter Daniel Norris that broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning.
“He’s one of the best for a reason,” Ausmus said. “He took advantage of a hanging breaking ball.”
It was Ortiz's 29th home run, tying him with Ted Williams and Raul Ibanez for most in a season by a player aged 40 or over. It was his second home run in two games in this series, bringing his Comerica Park career total to 23 in 58 games — most by a visiting player at Comerica.
It also brought his RBI total at Comerica to 60, second only to former White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko.
Ortiz has knocked in 1,500 runs with the Red Sox, joining Carl Yastrzemski (1,844) and Ted Williams (1,839) in the club’s 1,500-RBI club.
The Tigers won’t miss him when he's gone.
“That one pitch,” Norris said. “It wasn’t even a terrible pitch. I spun it pretty good. But he does what he does for a reason.”
Ortiz waited on a slow curveball and sent it on a high arc, deep into the seats in right field.
The rain came down in sheets at the end of the fifth inning, ending Norris’ night. He gave up eight hits and two walks in five innings. He didn’t have a single clean inning, but his fastball was lively, hitting 95 and 96 mph, and his slider was sharp at 90-91.
“It was a good start for him,” Ausmus said. “He always gives us a chance to win games, which is the important thing.”
The Tigers bullpen followed with four no-hit innings. Alex Wilson retired six straight, while Shane Greene and Justin Wilson put up zeros in the eighth and ninth, respectively. The trio combined for six strikeouts, two apiece.
“Willy and Greeny and Justin Wilson, they gave us a chance to win,” McCann said. “That's what their job is. They did their job. Unfortunately, our offense wasn't able to come through and get one more run than they had.”
The Tigers missed a chance to gain a game on the Central Division-leading Indians, who lost 6-5 to Toronto. They remain seven games back.