As we head towards the All-Star break teams are figuring out whether they are buyers or sellers. Detroit is neither. At 11 games back of Cleveland, and with a negative 53 run differential, there is little point in trying to make a playoff push. By the same token, the majority of the Tigers sell off occurred at last seasons trade deadline. With teams like the Orioles and Royals having historically bad seasons, there isn’t a lot of tanking potential either. There are perhaps a few minor moves which can be made, but it would be surprising to see a lot of trade action occur as we head towards the end of July. There are still 6 games before the All-Star break, and 10 games that we will cover in this edition of My Tigers Weekly.
The Tigers began with a 4 game series in Toronto. The series started with a pitchers duel between Francisco Liriano and Marcus Stroman. Liriano got into trouble in the 4th, allowing the first 6 batters to reach. Nick Castellanos’ outfield assist helped limit the damage, as it made Justin Smoak’s home run a batter later a 2 run shot instead of 3. Although the bases were loaded with one out, Liriano was able to get out of the inning only allowing one more run on an infield single. Unfortunately, the bats couldn’t back him up as Jeimer Candelario’s 12th home of the season was the only offense the Tigers could muster as they fell 3-2.
Game 83: Recap
The Tigers struck early on Saturday in an attempt to end their losing streak. John Hicks and Nick Castellanos homered in the 2nd/3rd innings to put the Tigers up 3-0. Starter Matthew Boyd would give all 3 back in the 5th after a home run by Randal Grichuk. Boyd would end up striking out 7 in 6 innings of work. The Tigers had their chances to manufacture some runs, including 2 on with no outs in the 8th, but couldn’t push any more runs across. The Blue Jays struck first to put the game away on a 2 out walk off home run by Justin Smoak. Joe Jimenez picked up his first loss of the season and the Tigers losing streak extended to 11 games.
Game 84: Recap
After a players only meeting, the Tigers went into Sunday’s game with Jordan Zimmerman facing off against J.A. Happ. Zimmerman gave up a run on 2 extra base hits in the 1st inning, but scattered 3 singles with no walks over the next 6 innings. The Tigers bats woke up in the 5th inning. After loading the bases and tying the game on a bunt single, Nick Castellanos hit a grand slam to break the game open. A 2 run single by Jose Iglesias in the 6th turned the game into a blowout and a 2 run home run by JaCoby Jones in the 9th made it a 9-1 Tigers victory.
#Blastellanos‘ grand slam and Zimm’s quality start help get us back in the win column.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 1, 2018
It looked like the momentum would continue into Monday, with 4 consecutive 1 out singles against Blue Jays rookie Ryan Borucki. Unfortunately, a double play with Candelario out at home ended the threat. The Tigers were able to manufacture an additional run, but could only manage 2 more hits off of Borucki over the next 6 innings. Mike Fiers was even better, allowing only 3 hits and 1 run over 8 innings of work. Joe Jimenez was brought into close out the game in the 9th and got into some trouble. After a 1 out walk and double, an intentional walk loaded the bases. Jimenez was able to induce a fly ball out, but gave up an RBI walk to Justin Smoak before getting a ground out to send the game into extra innings. Undeterred, the Tigers struck back quickly. Niko Goodrum tripled and Jose Iglesias brought him home to put the Tigers up 3-2. Manager Ron Gardenhire was in no mood to take any chances in the bottom half of the inning. A leadoff single was all he needed to see to remove Buck Farmer after facing one batter. Blaine Hardy got the next 3 outs to pick up the first save of his career. Detroit won the game, 3-2, and the season series against the Jays 4-3.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 2, 2018
The Tigers then played a 2 game series at Wrigley Field. Michael Fulmer outdueled Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, putting in an extra inning of work and striking out 3 additional batters on his way to picking up the quality start. However, staked to an early 3-0 lead, he gave up 3 consecutive doubles in the 5th inning as the Cubs tied the game 3-3. The Cubs then won the battle of the bullpens and thus the game. Daniel Stumpf gave up a run in the 7th to take the loss. An insurance run on a solo shot in the 8th was unnecessary, as the Tigers could only manage 1 hit in 4 innings off of Cubs relievers. The Tigers lost the game 5-3. Wednesday’s game was a pitchers duel of sorts between Francisco Liriano and Jose Quintana. Both gave up 2 solo home runs in 6 innings of work. The difference came in the 4th inning. Javier Baez manufactured a run almost entirely on his own. After a single, a steal and error put him on third base. In a brazen but effective move, he stole home and tied the game at 2. Willson Contreras’ home run put the Cubs ahead and the Tigers could not get any closer, losing the game by a final score of 5-2.
Game 87: Recap
Game 88: Recap
That set the stage for a 4 game series at Comerica Park against the Texas Rangers. In contrast to previous games in this stretch, on Thursday the Tigers fell behind quickly. Joey Gallo’s 21st home off of starter Matthew Boyd put the Rangers up early. A run 3rd and 3 run 4th put the Tigers behind 7-0. The Tigers fought back with 3 runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Niko Goodrum’s home run made it 7-4 and it looked like the Rally Goose would make an appearance in the 9th. The first 2 batters reached on an infield single and error by Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar. An RBI single by Victor Reyes meant the go ahead run got to bat with no outs, but the Tigers couldn’t keep the rally going and fell 7-5.
Game 89: Recap
The Tigers got their revenge on Friday. Jordan Zimmerman once again gave up a run early, a solo home run to the first batter of the game Shin-Soo Choo. He scattered 3 singles the rest of the way for an 8 inning, 4 hit, and 11 strike out performance. Home runs by James McCann and JaCoby Jones were all the offense the Tigers needed to beat Bartolo Colon and the Rangers. Joe Jimenez pitched the 9th and picked up his 3rd career save as the Tigers won 3-1.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 7, 2018
The momentum continued into Saturday’s game, with Mike Fiers facing Cole Hamels. Nick Castellanos got things started with his 15th home run of the season. Seven of the next 8 batters reached base with leadoff hitter Mikie Mahtook hitting a RBI double in his second at bat of the inning. Matt Moore was brought in to finish the 1st inning with the Tigers already ahead 7-0. Mike Fiers gave up 5 hits and a walk against 6 strikeouts in 6 innings of work to improve to 6-5 on the season as the Tigers won 7-2.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 8, 2018
Unfortunately, the Tigers couldn’t increase the winning streak to 3 or win the season series against the Rangers. Michael Fulmer gave up 3 runs, 2 earned, in 7 innings of work, but Rangers starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx and 3 relievers held the Tigers to 4 scattered singles as Detroit fell 3-0. Sunday was Texas’ day as right fielder Shin-Soo Choo reached base for the 47th consecutive game with a 9th inning single off of Victor Alcantara, and the Rangers traded for former Tigers centerfielder Austin Jackson.
Game 92: Recap
After 91 out of 162 games, the Tigers find themselves at 40-51 and in 3rd place in the AL Central. A 4-6 stretch, splitting two 4 game series and losing a 2 game series, may not sound promising. However, after an 11 game losing streak, there is something to be said for continuing to fight and play good baseball. Before the season, most fans would have been happy for Detroit to enter the All-Star break with a winning record at home. The Tigers have 6 more games until the break, all on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays and the defending champion Houston Astros. If the pitching matchups hold, the Tigers will face Justin Verlander for the first time ever on Sunday. While that’ll be bittersweet, we can quickly look to the future and the festivities as Joe Jimenez heads to Nationals Park for the All-Star game. Joe exceeded the rookie limits in 2017, otherwise he would have been the first Tigers rookie to make an All-Star team since the late legend Mark Fidrych took the league by storm in 1976.