Tigers drop out of first place with Labor Day loss, look to gain ground Tuesday

Maybe it was a hangover from Sunday night’s victory. Maybe it was having Vice President Joe Biden in town. Maybe it was just nerves.

Whatever it was, a passed ball in the top of the 1st inning was the mistake that cost the Tigers on Monday, as the Cleveland Indians defeated Detroit by a score of 3-2. In the top of the 1st inning, with Indian Jason Kipnis on 3rd, Alex Avila had a pitch go by, scoring the runner. It was a minor play, but one that the Tigers never really recovered from, as the good fortunes of the weekend evaporated in the hot Labor Day sun.

The Tigers never held the lead Monday, despite so many opportunities to do so. Every rally could only score a tying run, never a winning run. Every ball that could have gone out, could have gone past, could have gone through, did not.

The first inning ended with one run scored, after Brennan Boesch grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.

In the fourth inning, with two on, one run in, and no outs, Alex Avila hit into a double play.

Lastly, in the ninth, with two runners on, Alex Avila’s hit got by one infielder, but not the second, to end the game.

It was just that kind of day for the Tigers. Unfortunately, the loss puts us out of first place after Chicago defeated Minnesota. The Tigers are now a game out of first place.

Of course, this kind of game just happens over the course of a season. If the Tigers win two out of every three, and win or tie every series, Detroit will be in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Tigers need to win the next two to make that happen.

Fortunately though, the Cleveland Indians have been playing terribly recently.
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Over the next two days, the Tigers will have the pitching matchups and home-field advantage that should get one or two wins back.

On Tuesday night, the Tigers’ Rick Porcello (9-10, 4.57 ERA) faces the Indians’ Justin Masterson (10-12, 4.91 ERA). Porcello has lost his last four games, but those losses were entirely due to little run support. Porcello’s last three games were all one-run, low-scoring losses, and that streak should end tomorrow. Meanwhile, Masterson has been either very good or very bad, with either 7-plus runs allowed or only one or two per start lately. If the Tigers can hit Masterson, they can bust out for some big innings.

On Wednesday night, the Tigers will start Doug Fister and the Indians start Ubaldo Jimenez. Fister is 7-8 with a 3.67 ERA, but has blossomed in the second-half of the season. Much like some of the Tigers’ hitters, Fister had a bad first half due to injury, but has started to excel again in the second half. Recently, Fister is 7-4, with nine of 11 starts ending in very good outings. Jimenez is 9-14 with a 5.61 ERA, but those stats don’t even reflect how brutal he has been lately. He is 3-10 in his last 13 starts, always pitching poorly enough to lose the game. Jimenez regularly goes for 4-6 innings, and leaves the Indians with holes too big to climb out of.

If Porcello can get some support on Tuesday night, the Tigers can win the series. Jimenez will likely have another bad start, and Fister has been excellent lately. Tuesday night is the true rubber match for this series.

And Tuesday night is what I’ll end on. Because frankly, the less that can be said about today’s game, the better. There’s always tomorrow in baseball, at least at this time of year.

Gordie Fall

Gordon Fall has been around the Detroit sports scene for his entire life and even entered the world with a Red Wings hockey stick in hand. With a variety of connections around the Detroit area, Fall will be presenting the unspoken, yet optimistic truth of our city’s sports scene.

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