'They just kept coming at us': Tigers offense comes alive, but still outmatched by Red Sox, 11-7
Boston – Wouldn’t it figure.
On the night the Tigers’ offense finally breaks out of a 18-game funk, the pitching staff allows double-digit runs.
The Tigers, shutout in two of the three games in New York over the weekend, produced more runs than they had in a game since April 13, but it was still four runs short.
The Red Sox built an early 8-3 lead and held on to beat the Tigers Tuesday night 11-7 at Fenway Park. That’s six straight losses for the Tigers, 16 in the last 18 games, but there was some fight to this one.
"They just kept coming at us," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. "Obviously our bats were the best they've been in a while. I thought our guys hung in quite a bit. It just wasn't enough.
"I'm not sure it feels a lot better, but it's progress."
The cloud that hangs over this one, though, is the growing concern over the deepening struggles of Miguel Cabrera. He went 0-for-5 Tuesday and stranded seven runners on the bases. He is in an 0-for-23 skid with 13 strikeouts, and is hitting .105.
"I'm seeing the same thing you're seeing," Hinch said. "Obviously he's not in a good place production-wise. He had some long hard battles but he's coming up on the bad end of the competition with the pitcher right now.
"It's tough. He's swinging the bat well in batting practice, he's putting his work in, he's in the at-bats, but it's not going in his favor. We're all pulling for him. We're a better team when he comes out of it."
The Tigers came into the game ranked last in the Major Leagues in average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS, but came out swinging Tuesday, especially once the Red Sox lifted starter Nick Pivetta and went to their bullpen.
They scored four times in the sixth inning. A three-run homer by JaCoby Jones in the sixth cut the Red Sox lead to 9-6. He ambushed a first pitch fastball from right-handed reliever Austin Brice and lined it inside the left field foul line and over the Monster.
Victor Reyes, who had three hits, followed with a double, chasing Brice. Robbie Grossman lined an RBI single off Matt Andriese to make it 9-7.
Grossman stole second and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Christian Vazquez. With one out, Andriese struck out Jeimer Candelario and Cabrera, both looking at called third strikes. Cabrera’s came after a 10-pitch battle in which he’d fouled off four straight pitches with two strikes.
"As the game went along, our at-bats were really good," Hinch said. "But we lost a couple of key at-bats late, striking out with runners at third and less than two outs."
The Tigers left four runners on in the seventh and eighth innings.
In the seventh, Niko Goodrum walked, stole second and got to third on another bad throw by Vazquez. But reliever Adam Ottavino struck out Wilson Ramos and Willi Castro to strand him.
In the eighth, an error and two walks by lefty reliever Darwinzan Hernandez loaded the bases with one out. Right-hander Matt Barnes came in and ended that threat in two pitches — getting Cabrera to ground into a double-play.
"He's still Miguel Cabrera in my eyes and to all the players who play against him," said Grossman, who was on base five times Tuesday. "Look at his numbers, he's one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time. I still watch him every day to see if I can get something from it.
"He's a future Hall of Famer."
Grossman, who came in 6-for-33 with 10 strikeouts in the previous 10 games, was on the field for early batting practice Tuesday and had a long talk on the field with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
"I've been fighting my swing," he said. "Just trying to get to a point where I feel balanced in my legs. Today was a building block."
He had three hits and two walks, and knocked in three runs. Reyes, who came in just 2 for 27 in his previous 10 games, scored twice and knocked in a run.
"There is something to build from every day," Grossman said. "We have to continue to stay positive, show up every day and get better. That's all we can do."
The Tigers picked a bad night to have a bullpen game.
Boston came into the game leading the big leagues with a .261 team batting average and leading the American League in runs (138), slugging percentage (.437) and OPS (.762). None of those numbers went down after Tuesday.
Michael Fulmer got the spot start, subbing for Matthew Boyd (left knee tendinitis) who is expected to return to the rotation Sunday against the Twins. The plan was for Fulmer to go two or three innings.
He didn’t get through one. The Red Sox scored four times on four singles and a walk. It all might’ve been avoided, too, but for Fulmer’s errant throw into center field on what looked to be a sure double-play on a come-backer from No. 2 hitter Alex Verdugo.
The Red Sox played long ball with right-hander Alex Lange in the second. Verdugo hit a solo home run and Xander Bogaerts a two-run shot, both over the Green Monster in left.
Hunter Renfroe, who had three hits on the night, blasted a hanging slider from Buck Farmer over the Monster in the fifth. Renfroe had also doubled and scored against Daniel Norris.
Lefty Tyler Alexander, who pitched two innings, gave up a two-out RBI double to Vazquez in the sixth. Vazquez had three hits for Boston.
Kike Hernandez capped it with a towering home run to left off Jose Cisnero in the eighth.