Detroit — Just as it started to feel like the baseball gods were kicking sand in their faces as they dragged themselves into the All-Star break, the Tigers stood up and hit back — albeit briefly and without much consequence.
A doubleheader with a 12-inning nightcap on Wednesday, a day game Thursday, travel, a two-hour rain delay before the sixth inning Friday and then, on Saturday, a four-hour and five-minute rain delay before the start of the game.
The 4:10 p.m. start became an 8:15 p.m. start, and before 9 p.m. the Tigers were in a 7-0 hole. By 10:30 p.m., they were back in it. By 12:06 Sunday morning, though, they were defeated.
Sparked by two home runs from Jeimer Candelario and a four-run sixth inning that chased former Tiger Rick Porcello, the Tigers got within a run. But they couldn’t quite get over the hump, dropping the second straight game to the Red Sox, 10-6.
"We competed," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Just sitting around waiting and watching it rain is never easy. Once you get going, you never know how everybody is going to handle it.
"It was a long day for both teams."
As a gesture of goodwill to the die-hards who spent more than eight hours at the park, the Tigers are giving a free ticket to a future game to everyone who purchased a ticket to the game.
Candelario hit a two-run shot off the foul pole in right field in fourth and a solo shot to right in the sixth. In 10 games since coming back from Triple-A Toledo, he’s 14-for-37 (.378) with four home runs, three doubles and seven RBIs.
Bobby Wilson’s two-out, two-run single in the sixth made it 7-5 and ended Porcello’s night. Victor Reyes then tripled off reliever Colten Brewer — 7-6.
But the defense unraveled in the seventh. First, shortstop Niko Goodrum booted an in-between hop on a ball hit by slow-running catcher Sandy Leon.
Reliever Buck Farmer, after a grueling 11-pitch battle, walked Mookie Betts to load the bases. But he got Rafael Devers to hit one back to him. Farmer bobbled the ball, picked it up and his rushed throw to the plate was errant.
Instead of a possible inning-ending double-play, the Red Sox had tacked on an unearned insurance run. And they would add more in the eighth and ninth.
The seven-run hole was dug against starter Jordan Zimmermann.
"It was one of those nights where whatever I threw and wherever I threw it, it got hit," said Zimmermann, who gave up a career-high 13 hits and seven runs in 3⅓ innings. "I don't really have an explanation.
"It's frustrating because my last start I felt like I had everything working. And tonight, no matter what I did it seemed like were hard-hit balls."
With a bullpen game planned for Sunday, and with no starting pitcher lasting longer than 5⅓ innings over the previous four games, the Tigers desperately needed the veteran right-hander to give them some innings Saturday.
“We just have to ad-lib right now,” Gardenhire said before the game. “That’s what we’ve been doing, using spot starters. We’ve had so many injuries with our pitchers, that’s all we can do, just keep maneuvering it and bringing guys up. It’s a juggling act.”
And it doesn’t sound like it’s going to end anytime soon.
They expect to get Spencer Turnbull (shoulder fatigue) back after the All-Star break. But that’s it. Tyson Ross (shoulder, neck) has had a setback and has no timetable to begin a rehab assignment, let alone return.
So, in the meantime, they are keeping an eye on Beau Burrows, Kyle Funkhouser, Tyler Alexander and Drew VerHagen as options in the second half.
“We’re looking for somebody to step up,” Gardenhire said. “It would be great if we could have five starters, but we’re just not comfortable with the guys we’ve brought up here. We need more than four or five innings.
“We can’t keep doing that the whole second half. Our starters have to go deeper and we’ve been trying to push them as hard as we can to go six or seven.”
Zimmermann gave up triples to Betts and Andrew Benintendi in the first inning. Four balls, out of the six hitters in that inning, were put in play with an exit velocity of 100 mph or harder. He gave up five more hits, including a two-run double by Betts, in the second and a single and two doubles in the third.
The Red Sox ended up hitting eight balls off him with exit velocities in the triple digits. The average on the 21 balls put in play in his 3⅓ innings was 92 mph.
Zimmermann became the first Tigers pitcher to allow 13 hits in less than four innings since Ralph Comstock in 1913.
"If you're starters don't get into the second half of games and you put that much pressure on your bullpen two out of every three starts, that's what you're going to get," Gardenhire said. "The (relievers) don't have the same quality of stuff every night and they get beat up a little.
"But the one thing about these guys, they keep taking the ball. Everyone of them says the same thing: 'If you need me, I'm good.'"
The Tigers ended up using five relievers. Blaine Hardy (1⅓ innings) and Eduardo Jimenez, just called up from Toledo (one) kept the Red Sox off the board. Daniel Stumpf faced three batters and Farmer pitched 1⅔ innings.
Austin Adams pitched the ninth and gave up a run.
“The break is going to be big for all of us, mentally and physically for all the guys," Gardenhire said. "I hope we come back fresher."