Detroit — The law of averages is an all-biting bit of jurisprudence. It ensnares the young and veteran alike.
Buck Farmer, the Tigers’ young right-hander, rode a streak of 13 scoreless innings into the game Tuesday. It ended in five batters and he would leave in the third inning with the Tigers trailing 6-0.
Law of averages.
Then there was Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke. He came in with a 7-1 record and a 3.17 ERA in his last nine starts. And he was cruising through five innings, allowing just two singles.
BOX SCORE: Diamondbacks 7, Tigers 6
Then, suddenly, a throwing error by shortstop Chris Owings and a misplayed liner by right fielder David Peralta, and the floodgates opened. The Tigers scored six runs, all unearned, in the sixth inning to tie the game.
Law of averages?
Maybe it’s just baseball.
The Tigers’ rally was for naught. Peralta more than atoned for his misplay by swatting the first pitch from reliever Justin Wilson, a 95-mph fastball, and lined it over the fence in left to give the Diamondbacks a 7-6 win.
Then again, the law of averages: It was left-handed hitting Peralta’s third career home run off a lefty, and the first hit by a lefty off Wilson this year.
“We lost, but we definitely didn’t get beat,” said third baseman Nick Castellanos. “If that makes any sense. We battled back. We never gave up. We had good at-bats, played the game the right way, picked each other up and we were right there until the end.”
It seemed a shame to waste that six-run sixth.
With one out, Ian Kinsler singled. Alex Avila followed with a ground ball into the teeth of the over-shifted Arizona infield. Owings fielded the ball on the right side of second base and his throw went into a vacated left field, all the way into foul territory.
Kinsler scored from first and Avila went to second. Miguel Cabrera lined one into right center. There appeared to be some communication issues between Peralta and center fielder Rey Fuentes. Peralta stumbled and couldn’t make the play. Avila scored.
It was scored a double and it was Cabrera’s 1,582nd RBI, tying Al Kaline for 36th in baseball history.
J.D. Martinez made it 6-4 with his 11th home run of the season, crushing a hanging off-speed pitch 453 feet to left field.
Greinke was done after he walked Justin Upton.
The Tigers kept hitting off reliever J.J. Hoover — single by Castellanos. RBI single by Alex Presley to make it 6-5. RBI single by Jose Iglesias to tie the game.
“We were down 6-0, but (the dugout) wasn’t subdued at all,” Presley said. “We knew what we had to do, what adjustments had to be made at that point, and we did a good job of making them as a team.”
Greinke was keeping his pitches down and getting a lot of groundball outs. The Tigers in the sixth inning forced him to get his pitches up higher in the zone.
“We put at-bats together, and when this team puts at-bats together, good things can happen,” Presley said. “Just keep grinding. It’s a nine-inning game. You have to try not to get too down in half a game.”
Still, it was a long way to go for nothing.
Farmer, who gave up two runs on five singles in the first inning (including a two-out, RBI bunt by Owings), was chased in the third after yielding a pair of two-run home runs, to Paul Goldschmidt and Brandon Drury.
“Location,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “The balls that were hit out were over the plate and elevated. He wasn’t going to go the entire season without giving up a run. It was bound to happen.”
But left-hander Chad Bell came on and restored order. He pitched 3.2 innings of scoreless baseball, working out of a bases- loaded, one-out mess in the sixth by getting a double-play ground ball from Gregor Blanco on a 3-2 pitch.
“With our lineup, you have to look at it like nothing is ever out of reach,” Bell said. “You know we are going to battle and have good at-bats and hopefully get back into it.”
Bell left in the seventh after allowing a lead-off double. Francisco Rodriguez was summoned to face the heart of the Diamondbacks order. He struck out Goldschmidt. Jake Lamb grounded out and Owings fly out to center.
Enter Alex Wilson in the eighth inning, and another Houdini-like escape. Drury doubled to start the inning – the third straight leadoff double by the D-backs. A walk and a single later and the bases were loaded with no outs.
Wilson, though, got pinch-hitter Chris Herrmann to ground into a 3-2-3 double play – Cabrera to Avila and back to first.
Wilson ended the inning by getting Blanco to fly to right — keeping the game at 6-6.
The Tigers just missed taking the lead in the seventh. With Cabrera on second with his second double of the game, J.D. Martinez lifted a long fly ball to right that Peralta caught about two steps in front of the wall.
And the final indignity for the home team on this night, former Tigers closer Fernando Rodney pitched a clean ninth inning for his 17th save.
“There’s no rhyme or reason in baseball, man,” Castellanos said.