Tigers’ Iglesias, Upton sit out finale with injuries
St. Petersburg, Fla. — Still reeling from Wednesday night’s ugly tumble that helped cost the Tigers a game in which weirdness was prominent, Jose Iglesias was out of Thursday’s Tigers lineup for a 1:10 p.m. game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Iglesias was being watched by Tigers trainers for concussion symptoms after he caught a knee to the jaw on the final play of what turned into an 8-7 victory for the Rays.
Iglesias was felled during what looked as if it would be a game-saving double play for the Tigers and a 7-6 victory. Logan Morrison’s ground ball, with one out and the bases loaded, was grabbed by second baseman Ian Kinsler, who whipped a relay to Iglesias at the second-base bag. Iglesias, though, scraped the inside of the bag with his right foot and stumbled, letting fly with a wide relay as he dropped to the ground.
The ball skidded beyond first baseman Miguel Cabrera and two Rays runners scored for an 8-7 victory.
The runner at first, Brad Miller, sliding into second in a bid to break up the double play, caught Iglesias’ jaw with his knee. Iglesias lay flat and face-down on the infield dirt for long moments before getting to his feet.
The Tigers at some point Thursday will decide if Iglesias must go on the seven-day disabled list prescribed for concussion recovery.
The Tigers had also been waiting Thursday for Justin Upton to take batting practice before deciding if Upton, who was hurt in a similar play as a baserunner in Tuesday night’s game, would re-emerge in Ausmus’ lineup for the series finale.
Upton, though, was still fighting a bruised right forearm and, before game time, was dropped from consideration. Andrew Romine was to start in left field.
The Tigers have lost the first two games of their three-game set with the Rays, their first series loss of 2017.
Ausmus talked at length about Wednesday’s events, which saw the Tigers trail the Rays 5-1 before they got six runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 7-5 lead. The Rays got a run back in the seventh against Alex Wilson, then added their game-clinchers in the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez.
The Tigers were crossed-up, defensively, and offensively, in Wednesday night’s game.
A fan yelling from the outfield seats — a convincing “I got it” cry — helped confuse center fielder JaCoby Jones, as well as Kinsler, on separate soft fly balls that fell for hits.
“Acoustics helped,” said Ausmus, explaining how a single customer could have so discombobulated big-league defenders. “There weren’t a huge number of people out there.
“I’m not blaming the fan. He was within his rights.”
The Tigers changed their outfield defensive calls to guard against any further sabotage. But that didn’t help Rodriguez in the ninth as a walk, a double, and an intentional walk — before Rodriguez got a strikeout on a 3-2 pitch — set up Morrison’s seeming double-play grounder that instead became a walk-off moment for the Rays.
The Tigers had earlier been ambushed by Rays third baseman Evan Longoria during their three-run sixth.
After the first two runners reached base on a walk and a hit batsman, Ausmus called for a sacrifice bunt from Jones, who has been striking out regularly the past week.
Jones opted to stab at the first pitch from Rays reliever Danny Farquhar. He popped it up along the third-base line and Longoria shrewdly allowed the ball to fall rather than grab it for a single out.
That allowed Longoria to force Andrew Romine at second and beat Jones at first, who had been late getting from the batter’s box.
“I thought it went behind me,” Jones explained Thursday, saying he believed the ball was foul — until he saw Longoria make a play.
“A veteran third baseman took advantage of the opportunity,” Ausmus said of Longoria’s play, which surprised Ausmus only in that Longoria had opted for two, rather than going for a force-out of the lead runner, James McCann, who was frozen at second.
“And then he (Jones) didn’t get down the line. If J.J. is running from the get-go, he doesn’t get two.”
Ausmus said he had no second thoughts about the call for a bunt.
“I’m not a huge fan of the bunt,” he said. “It can be counter-productive, especially early in a game.
“But, to me, that was a no-brainer.”
Jones said he was aware Farquhar had been having strike-zone issues, but that squaring around simply gave him an option, not a mandate, to bunt at the first pitch.
“It was a good pitch to bunt,” Jones said. “I should have put it in play.”
Daniel Norris was the Tigers’ hope to steer clear Thursday of a series sweep as he got the start against Erasmo Ramirez.