David Price completes Red Sox sweep, Tigers tumble into break
Detroit — The Detroit Tigers will enter the 2019 All-Star break as sole possessors of a humiliating claim.
With a 6-3 defeat to the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park on Sunday, Detroit’s 32 home losses are the most in Major League Baseball.
No need to add insult to injury, eh?
Except the Red Sox most certainly did. Boston swept Detroit behind starts from Rick Porcello and David Price on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. That means all five members of Detroit’s loaded 2014 pitching staff have come into Comerica Park and picked up wins this season, beginning with Justin Verlander’s return to Detroit on May 15.
Anibal Sanchez picked up his win on June 28 and Max Scherzer on June 30 to bookend Washington’s series win over the Tigers last weekend.
Price threw 99 pitches in five innings, gave up four hits, struck out six and walked two on his way to the decision. The win was also the 150th of Price's career, the second-most of any American League pitcher since he joined Tampa Bay’s starting rotation in May 2009. Verlander leads that department with 164 wins.
“I felt like his ball was just moving a lot,” said Tigers first baseman Brandon Dixon, who struck out and walked in two plate appearances against Price.
“He just a had a little bit more movement than you expected.”
Detroit (28-57) enters the All-Star break in the midst of a truly dismal stretch. The Tigers are 6-25 since June 1 and haven’t won a series at home since the first week of May, which manager Rod Gardenhire said has been the biggest disappointment of a season infested with frustration.
“Losing at home I think probably bothers me more than anything else,” Gardenhire said. “We always talk about winning at home, defending your home field, and we didn’t do a very good job of that.
“Matter of fact, hardly at all.”
The Tigers will have the next four days off — beside closer Shane Greene, who will make his first All-Star Game appearance Tuesday in Cleveland — before starting a three-game weekend set in Kansas City. They won’t return to Comerica Park until July 19 against Toronto.
In Sunday’s loss, Dixon hit a two-run home run, Nicholas Castellanos went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and Victor Reyes scored twice for the Tigers. Xander Bogaerts had two RBIs, Christian Vazquez hit a two-run home run and former Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez scored twice for the Red Sox.
Making just his ninth start of the season, center fielder Reyes drew a leadoff walk from Price (7-2, 3.24 ERA) to start the game. Castellanos doubled him home two batters later, the 100th double of Castellanos’ career, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
After racing out to the first-inning lead, Detroit’s offense stalled — and when its engine turned over, the wheels wouldn’t move. The Tigers were a collective 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left seven base runners stranded.
Gardenhire said afterward that capitalizing on scoring chances is a beat the Tigers have skipped in the first half of their season.
“We missed a lot of opportunities offensively,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get more consistent in a lot of different areas.”
Dixon was the exception to that gripe on Sunday. He put a slider from Ryan Brasier into the stands for a two-run shot in the eighth inning, his team-leading 12th home run of the year.
“It’s always nice to get into a break with a good swing under your belt,” Dixon said.
Dixon, like the Tigers, had been in a bit of a downswing entering Sunday’s game. He started the season batting .312/.338/.584 with five home runs in his first 27 games. But in the 28 games since June 1, had gone .189/.221/.368 — though, the power was still there, as he belted six homers in that span.
“He went through a stretch where it looked like he was a little long with his swing,” Gardenhire said. “He got a hold of one today, and I’m sure that makes him feel better going into the break.
“He’s been stumbling a bit.”
Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera was ejected between the first and second innings by home plate umpire Will Little for arguing a called third strike from his first at-bat. It was the 11th ejection of Cabrera’s 17-year MLB career and first since the second game of a doubleheader at Minnesota on May 11.
The Tigers had originally hoped for Sunday to be a bullpen game, but those plans were stifled after Jordan Zimmermann was roughed up for 13 hits and seven runs in just 3.1 innings the day before. Detroit wound up using five bullpen arms in Saturday’s 10-6 loss and was forced to trot out Gregory Soto, who was coming off a one-inning relief appearance against Boston on Friday night, as its starter on Sunday.
Soto (0-3, 8.14) was taken to the warning track by Mookie Betts and Bogaerts in the first inning. The rookie left-hander then gave up a two-run home run to Vazquez, which scored Martinez and gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead, in his second and final inning of work.
Left-hander Nick Ramirez followed Soto’s two-inning start with scoreless innings in the third and fourth. Then, the wheels started to wobble in the fifth. Ramirez gave up a single to Marco Hernandez and walked Betts before Bogaerts opened things up with a two-out double and scored on an Andrew Benintendi single to make it 5-1.
Martinez scored on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth to extend Boston’s lead.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.