Boasting what could have been the most offensive offense of the season, the Detroit Tigers started off an important series in the worst possible way. The Cleveland Indians weren’t fantastic, but did enough with three triples to easily beat the Tigers 4-2.
Drew Smyly got off to the fastest possible start on the mound, striking out Shin Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis in the first inning with only 16 pitches. The Tigers backed up their young hurler with some instant offense, getting a run on a Miguel Cabrera double to left. Smyly didn’t allow a hit until the third inning. With two out, Cleveland tied the game on a triple by Cabrera, scoring Choo all the way from first base. Though Smyly would settle down fantastically from his tiny problem the next inning, his offense was unable to pressure Ubaldo Jimenez, one of the most inconsistent pitchers early this year in the American League. Then, the Indians started to knock Smyly around a tiny bit. They got yet another run scoring triple, this one off the bat of Lou Marson, and Choo quickly cashed him in from third in the very next at bat. After five innings and a halfway decent Smyly start, Cleveland held a commanding 3-1 lead.
As usual, Detroit’s pathetic offense didn’t create much of a storm through the middle of the game. Despite Jimenez falling behind hitters repeatedly, the Tigers refused to be patient, hacking and slashing away and making quick outs. The Indians added a run in the sixth, and Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder tried to respond with two out in the bottom of the inning. Unfortunately, Delmon Young would have none of that, flying out after swinging at the first pitch. Though Detroit’s bullpen did a nice job to keep the score down, the offense refused to help out once more. Despite a small rally in the ninth courtesy of a Brennan Boesch sacrifice fly, the Tigers still didn’t do enough to get the job done. That’s becoming a common theme in 2012, and its looking more and more like big changes are needed fast.
Big Cat: Drew Smyly. The rookie is pitching well, and had a fantastic start to the game. Had an incompetent core of veterans managed to focus in the batters box and get him some extra runs, things could have turned out very different. Smyly has done everything that has been asked of him and more this season. It’s a shame most of the team chooses not to back him up in starts, or else he would look like one of the top rookie pitchers in the game. Such are sometimes the breaks in baseball.
Stray Kitty: Matt Young. The adjustment from AAA to the major leagues is sometimes steep, however Young was terrible tonight, striking out four times. That should all but end his brief stint in the two hole. It didn’t seem possible for a player to play worse than Don Kelly, but Young tried to give that notion a run for its money tonight and succeeded.
Best Play Of The Game: Quintin Berry’s running catch. After things fell apart for Smyly, he was reeling after Asdrubal Cabrera’s elongated at bat. Finally, a pitch was put in play deep to center field, but Berry tracked it down. After looking out of position two other times, Berry rebounded with a fantastic over the shoulder catch. On a night where good defense was again rare, this catch was a lone bright spot for the Tigers.
Worst Play Of The Game: Detroit’s entire approach at the plate. Once again, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder were the only hitters that seemed to care for the Tigers. The rest of the lineup couldn’t be bothered for quality at bats, and simply played out plate appearances lazily, refusing to put in the needed effort and make the often wild Jimenez work. It’s unfortunate to watch the Tigers winnable games go by the wayside, but that’s what bad teams usually do.
Central Focus: The Tigers loss puts them further behind the Indians, who are trying to chase down the White Sox. At the time of this being published, Chicago was losing to Toronto.
On Deck: The Tigers will try to score more than one run tomorrow night, when they play game two against the Indians.