Sometimes it’s been bad pitching. Other times, it’s been a lack of offense. Tonight, defense struck the fatal blows against the Detroit Tigers. Jhonny Peralta botched two throws in the eighth inning, helping gift the Chicago Cubs the game winning run in an ugly 4-3 defeat.
Though Wrigley Field has been known to be a bandbox, early on, pitching would steal the show. Paul Maholm was attempting to rebound from a few rough starts. Right away, though, he had the Tigers number. Through two innings he struck out four. On the other hand, Max Scherzer was wild. In the second inning, a hit, a walk and a wild pitch combined to put the Tigers in a 1-0 hole following a Darwin Barney groundout. Maholm continued to look good, working the strike zone well and easily maneuvering through Detroit’s lineup over five innings. The only damage that was done came via three singles, and only one of those runners made it into scoring position. Though Scherzer got things back on track and started to pile up some strikeouts and quick innings, his offense was betraying him again by looking awful. They hit some balls hard in the sixth inning, but generated no runs. The Cubs did, however. Barney deposited two more runs with a double, making the lead 3-0.
In the seventh, the Tigers finally rallied after loading the bases with some offensive thunder. Ramon Santiago singled scoring a run, then Austin Jackson tied the game with a two run single of his own. Though Miguel Cabrera struck out, things were finally even on the scoreboard. Phil Coke worked around some danger in the bottom of the inning, stranding two runners by striking out Bryan LaHair to end the threat. In the eighth, Coke kept pitching, and wouldn’t be as lucky. Peralta’s first error kept the inning alive and loaded the bases. One batter later, Peralta’s next errant throw pulled Prince Fielder off the bag, allowing Barney to score giving the Cubs a late 4-3 lead. Shawn Camp set down the Tigers in order in the ninth, helping Chicago steal the game.
Big Cat: Max Scherzer. Though Scherzer fought things a bit for the first few innings, he kept things stable and managed to keep his team in the game. It certainly wasn’t his fault that the Tigers couldn’t figure out Paul Maholm until the late innings, and then ended up throwing the game away defensively. Though Scherzer often struggles in 2012, he usually can keep things manageable. If the offense bothered to show up, things may have turned out much different tonight for Scherzer and the Tigers.
Stray Kitty: Jhonny Peralta. Not only did Peralta look bad at the plate, he made the critical defensive mistakes in crunch time tonight. Jim Leyland cannot be faulted for leaving Phil Coke in the game this time. The Cubs simply got lucky to win because of Peralta’s terrible throws. Both times, Peralta didn’t set his feet and rushed his throws, causing the mistakes. That cannot happen, especially during the late innings.
Best Play Of The Game: Austin Jackson’s two run single. Jackson continued his hot hitting since returning to the Tigers’ lineup with yet another clutch hit tonight. The two run single to left field tied the game, and temporarily provided fans with some hope. Jackson’s still hitting, especially in clutch situations like the seventh inning, which is positive news considering important knocks have avoided Tiger bats much of 2012.
Worst Play Of The Game: Jhonny Peralta’s poor throw to second base in the eighth inning. Instead of ending the inning, Peralta’s first terrible feed sailed on Ramon Santiago, allowing the eighth inning to continue. Predictably, that would hurt the Tigers immediately. Ironically, Peralta made the very next mistake, pulling Prince Fielder off the bag with another errant throw, helping the Cubs score the game winning run. Both plays are horrible, but the shorter throw to second should have the Tigers out of the inning every single time.
Central Focus: Detroit’s loss combined with a White Sox win now puts the team six games back in the Central Division standings.
On Deck: The Tigers attempt to get even in the series by sending Rick Porcello to the mound. The Cubs will counter with Matt Garza. Tomorrow’s game begins at 8:10 p.m.