Over the past few years, it seems like every time the Tigers start to gain some momentum they get stung by a last-place Royals team. When a three-run seventh by the Royals wiped out a 3-0 Tigers lead, it looked like it was going to be one of those games. However, some clutch relieving and hitting gave the Tigers a 4-3 win in 10 innings.
Rick Porcello pitched another solid game tonight allowing three runs on seven hits and no walks in 6 1/3 innings. As he did throughout the month of July, Porcello continued to mix his pitches well getting 11 outs on ground balls and four on strikes. All the strikeouts were on swinging strikes - three sliders and one change-up. Porcello now has a 2.56 ERA and 28/5 K/BB ratio over 38 2/3 innings in his last six starts.
Many fans including myself questioned Jim Leyland's quick hook in the seventh inning. The Tigers manager pulled Porcello with one out and two on and the Tigers up 3-1. Porcello had thrown just 82 pitches at that point, but Leyland wanted to go with southpaw Phil Coke versus the left-handed Mike Moustakas. Coke, who has not readjusted very well to the bullpen, allowed a run-scoring single. Recently acquired David Pauley then allowed a game-tying single before inducing a double play to end the inning.
More bothersome than the questionable managerial move was the Tigers infield defense. Third baseman Wilson Betemit and second baseman Carlos Guillen turned two playable balls into singles. Had they made those plays, the inning would have been over with no damage. That was just the latest example of poor infield defense giving extra outs to opponents. It's been a problem much of the year.
Another lefty - Daniel Schlereth - saved the game with one of his biggest performances as a Tiger. He came on in the 8th with the score tied at three and pitched two scoreless innings to get the win. Jose Valverde got the save with a scoreless tenth.
For the second time this week, Brennan Boesch knocked in the eventual game winner late in the game. His single in the tenth inning scored pinch runner Andrew Dirks for the go ahead run. Credit must also be given to Dirks for alertly moving into scoring position after the ball got away (but not very far) from Royals catcher Manny Pina.
Game two of the series pits ace Justin Verlander versus rookie Danny Duffy. It looks like a great match-up for the Tigers, but you never know. It's never easy versus the Royals.