Friday night in Cincinnati, the Detroit Tigers let a game slip away. On Saturday afternoon, with their ace on the hill, they stole one back.
Prince Fielder delivered a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning, scoring Brennan Boesch and helping the Tigers claim a hard-fought 3-2 win. Boesch worked his way to second base with a deep double off Cincinnati reliever Sean Marshall. The Reds then opted to walk Miguel Cabrera and have the lefty Marshall face Fielder.
That strategy backfired, as Fielder lined the first pitch he saw in to center and Boesch slid under a tag at home.
Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde then pitched a perfect inning apiece to close out the victory. Brayan Villarreal actually earned the win, working out of trouble in the seventh inning.
Justin Verlander, who had lost three straight for the first time since 2008 heading into Saturday, rolled through the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth when left fielder Delmon Young lost a fly ball in the sun, resulting in a double that put Reds on second and third with nobody out. Verlander responded by getting Brandon Phillips to tap out to catcher Gerald Laird and striking out Jay Bruce with four straight 100-mph fastballs.
Verlander walked Ryan Ludwick to the load bases, though, and then Todd Frazier — who knotted up Friday night’s game with an eighth-inning double — smoked a liner to right for two RBIs to tie the game.
Verlander then scratched and clawed his way through six innings, throwing 127 pitches and striking out nine, before giving way to the bullpen.
Fielder also accounted for Detroit’s second run, launching a towering home run to right field off Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo. Ramon Santiago opened the scoring with a home run of his own in the second.
Tigers’ MVP: Fielder.
The Tigers badly need to start coming up with big hits in the clutch, and Fielder definitely delivered in the eighth inning Saturday. Perhaps the best sign came after Boesch snuck under the tag at home — Fielder stood on first base and emphatically clapped his hands several times, a rare show of emotion from this Detroit team that has been sluggish for most of the season.
Tigers’ Goat: Young.
He was awful at the plate, finishing 0-for-4, but his bigger mistake came in the field. Not only did Young set the stage for Frazier’s two-RBI single with his misplay in left, but he forced Verlander to throw an additional 20 or so pitches in the fourth inning — something that wound up pushing JV from the game earlier than he should have had to leave.
What’s Next: Detroit’s in the national-TV spotlight on Sunday night, as rookie Drew Smyly takes to the hill for an ESPN audience. He’ll face righty Homer Bailey, who’s 4-4 with a 4.39 ERA. A win would give Detroit a solid series victory and allow the team a chance to finally run together some momentum with a road trip to take on the stumbling Chicago Cubs next on the docket.