Ace relievers feeling wrath of Tigers hitters

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Detroit Tigers' Justin Upton watches his two-run home run during the eighth inning.

Kansas City, Mo. — They did it again.

Among the many unusual characteristics of the Tigers' 2016 season is their uncanny ability to produce against some of the best relievers in the game.

On Friday, Miguel Cabrera beat Royals closer Wade Davis with a two-run single in the ninth inning. Sunday, Justin Upton hit a two-run, game-winning home run off Joakim Soria in the eighth.

“We seem for whatever reason to have confidence and have good at-bats against back-end relievers — setup men and closers,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Not all of the time, but against some of the better ones, we have good at-bats.”

When asked if he had a theory on why they’ve had the ability to produce against late-inning relievers, Ausmus shrugged.

“We’re a good-hitting team,” he said. “I don’t know if the concentration goes up or if there is some momentum because we did it a lot early in the year. But our guys feel like we have a chance regardless of the pitcher.”

Andrew Romine maybe explained it the best.

Pelfrey and Zimmermann set to return, rotation again in flux

“We’re fighters, man,” he said. “If we go down, we’re going to come back. We’re not going to give up, no matter what the score is.”

Or who is pitching, apparently.

Here’s a look at some of the damage the Tigers have done late in games against some of the top setup men and closers.

DATEOPPONENTPITCHER(S)DAMAGE
April 14PiratesTony Watson3-run eighth inning
May 15OriolesDarren O'DayJ.D. Martinez-Miguel Cabrera HRs eighth inning
June 2YankeesBetances-Miller-Chapman3 runs in 3.2 innings
June 4White SoxMatt Albers3 runs in seventh and eighth innings
June 7Blue JaysRoberta Osuna2-run ninth, Kinsler walk-off in 10th
June 16RoyalsLuke Hochevar3-run seventh inning
June 23MarinersSteve CishekWalk-off wild pitch in 10th
July 3RaysXavier Cedeno-Danny Farquhar5 runs in eight-ninth innings
July 17RoyalsJoakim Soria2-run game-winning HR by Jarrold Saltalamacchia
July 24White SoxDavid RobertsonCastellanos-Collins-Saltalamacchia HRs in ninth
July 27Red SoxBrad ZieglerGame-winning HR Cabrera in ninth
July 30AstrosWill Harris2-run ninth, Jose Iglesias game-winning single
Aug. 18Red SoxJunichi Tazawa-Brad Ziegler3-run eighth inning
Aug. 29White SoxNate JonesSaltalamacchia 2-run game-winning HR in eighth
Aug. 31White SoxDavid RobertsonTyler Collins game-winning sac fly in ninth
Sept. 2RoyalsWade Davis2-run, game-wnning single by Cabrera in ninth
Sept. 4RoyalsJoakim Soria2-run, game-winning homer by Upton in eighth