Over the weekend the Detroit Tigers welcomed in the Tampa Bay Rays, who were coming off a sweep of the New York Yankees, to Comerica Park. With plenty of strong pitching, this series was bound to be good.
In game one of the series, Rick Porcello took the mound against highly touted prospect Matt Moore. Porcello and Matt Moore would go pitch for pitch with each other. Going into the seventh inning, Matt Moore looked to have another easy inning. Until the hot Austin Jackson got up to the plate. Moore left a fastball up and Jackson took it in to the hometown bullpen for his first home run of the year.
“I tried to get a little big on it,” Moore said of the pitch, “threw it and wound up pulling it right in the middle of the zone for him.” The Tigers would go on to score three runs in the eighth to take the first game 5-2.
Game two featured a great pitching match-up: Justin Verlander vs. James Shields. The Tigers would strike first with a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in the first. The Tigers would score once more in the fifth off a Shields balk. two-runs seemed like 10 to the Rays, with the way Verlander was pitching.
After eight innings, Verlander was on cruse control. Only allowing one-hit; not giving up his first till the fifth, and his pitch count was at 81 pitches. It seemed like it was going to be a complete game shutout for the reigning Cy Young winner. The Rays showed why the last three outs are the hardest to get. After a lead-off pinch-hit single by Jeff Keppinger, Verlander seemed to lose, what was his impeccable command. Verlander would go on to give up three more hits in the inning and give up two runs; one a wild pitch, before getting replaced.
Daniel Schlereth would replace Verlander and walk the only batter he faced. Jose Valverde would then come on to try and hold the tie but would give up two runs. The Tigers would falter to the Rays 4-2. After the game, Verlander was also in disbelief. ”I got away from what I’ve been doing all day,” Verlander said. “I’ve been playing to those guys’ aggressiveness, getting them out in front of offspeed stuff and then I just got away from it there in the ninth.”
Game three featured the major league debut of Drew Smyly. This game was also Brennan Boesch’s 27th birthday. The birthday boy would give himself the best present of all. Smyly would last till the fourth, until he was pulled after giving up two hits and recording an out in the fourth. Collin Balester would then come on and pitch two solid innings. Brayan Villarreal and Phil Coke would both pitch to hold the game down until the eighth.
The big story to this game is Brennan Boesch. Boesch, who was out to a rough start in 2012, would finally break through. Driving in four RBIs. His biggest hit coming in the fifth to drive in the go ahead RBI. ”This offense is kind of one of those offenses [where] the game was tied early but we keep battling, and all of a sudden, we look up at the scoreboard and it’s 7-2,” Boesch said about the 7-2 win on Sunday.
Joaquin Benoit would come on in the eighth, and looked much better than he had in his two previous outings. Jose Valverde came out in the ninth, even though it wasn’t a save situation, and set the Rays down in order.
The Tigers travel down to Chicago for their first road trip of the year on Friday. Max Scherzer is set to take on Jake Peavy in game one. Then Adam Wilk will pitch in the injured Doug Fister’s place, against Gavin Floyd. Rick Porcello will wrap up the series against Chris Sale.
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