Poor defense, rough middle innings from Norris, and Frankie Montas’ mastery doomed the Tigers.
The Detroit Tigers entered game 42 of the season on the heels of an absolute 17-3 shellacking at the hands of the Oakland Athletics Thursday night at home. The loss was an exclamation point on the four-game losing streak that dates back to the opening game of the three-game sweep by the Houston Astros that began on Monday. Daniel Norris took to the mound for this Friday night affair seeking to put his team back on the winning track.
Long story short, the with the exception of a pair of doubles in the bottom of the fifth inning that broke up a perfect game to that point and a minor ninth inning rally, the Tigers’ offense continued its trend of futility. Meanwhile, the A’s jumped all over Norris the second time through the order and put the game out of reach by the sixth inning.
Daniel Norris came out of the gates strong, sending the top of the first down in order on 16 pitches. Frankie Montas responded with a 1-2-3 inning of his own, striking out two to keep things even. The A’s would threaten off a leadoff single by Khris Davis that saw him reach third after a wild pitch and a groundout, only to squander the opportunity after a groundout and a foul popup out.
The Montas train kept rolling along, striking out out Miguel Cabrera and Josh Harrison , sandwiching a quick flyout by Ronny Rodriguez. He would continue to tear through the lineup, taking a perfect game into the bottom of the fifth, including a six-pitch fourth inning that helped keep his pitch count low.
Meanwhile, Norris also continued to baffle the Athletics batters through three innings, keeping them off the board until they got two aboard on singles to start the fourth. Oakland managed to squeak a run across the plate despite a ground ball double play ball that was missed by a matter of inches by Rodriguez, who made an yoga-inspired effort to snatch the ball at first base before the runner reached the bag.
The next inning, Norris fared even worse, walking the sub-Mendoza hitting Jurickson Profar who was driven in by the next batter Mark Canha on an opposite field home run. He managed to get out the inning without any further damage, but still put his team in a 3-0 hole going into the bottom of the frame.
Miggy came out swinging, smacking a line drive double to the pull field on the first pitch he saw. After an incredible play at third base to rob Rodriguez’s scorching ground ball to get the first out, Josh Harrison brought in the Tigers’ first run by barreling a 96 mph fastball into the left field corner for an RBI double. Dawel Lugo followed up with a hit-by-pitch on a hard fastball in the ribs, then Hicks with a dribbler in front of the plate that resulted in a forceout at second, and JaCoby Jones grounded out to short on the first pitch to end the threat.
Miguel Cabrera provides Tigers’ first hit off Frankie Montas, turning on a 95 mph fastball and lining a double to LF fence. Exit velocity was 107.8 mph.
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) May 18, 2019
The sixth inning began decently with a quick out, but things quickly came unraveled. Jones completely booted a line drive single into center field after another single by Davis, bringing him across the plate while the batter reached third base on the error. Chad Pinder followed that up with a home run into the center field bushes to push the score up to 6-1. That would be the end of Norris’ night as Buck Farmer came in to relieve him with one out and the bases clear to finish off the inning unscathed.
After going down in order in the bottom of the sixth, Farmer managed to keep the A’s at bay aside from a leadoff walk. Despite a hard-hit ball from Cabrera in the bottom of the frame, the Tigers still went down with merely a whimper, extending the team’s futility yet another inning.
Sandy Baez came in to start the eighth, and quickly surrendered a run off a leadoff double and a single on three pitches to make the score 7-1. Baez managed to get out of the inning without any further damage, but the slow bleed continued.
Shane Greene came in for the ninth just to keep the rust from accumulating, as he last pitched on Sunday , and threw a clean inning to limit the Athletics to only seven runs for the evening. Montas would pitch into the ninth, ultimately striking out ten Tigers batters, coming only one out from a complete game before being removed after a couple of base hits and a run scored.
After allowing a leadoff single to Gordon Beckham , he managed to get the next two batters out only to surrender another double to Cabrera , this one of the RBI variety to nudge the score up to 7-2. Lou Trevino then came in to strike out Rodriguez to end the game.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the game
Good: Cabrera and Harrison came through with extra-base hits to break up the perfect game in the fifth inning and showed some life in otherwise limp bats. That is the apex of the game for Tigers fans, though Miggy also came through again in the ninth to notch another run in the score column. Cabrera’s two hits on the night ties him with Lou Gehrig on the all-time hits list.
Bad: The rest of the offense, as Frankie Montas made them look silly the entire evening, striking out ten in the process. But to be fair, you cannot really expect more from this motley crew of misfits.
Ugly: JaCoby Jones ’ defense. The misplayed single in the sixth inning was the death knell of Daniel Norris and ultimately the Tigers. It’s a tough mistake for a guy who is penciled in the lineup solely for his glove.
Tweet of the Game:
Stay tuned to Bless You Boys for my pending article on this subject.
Miguel Cabrera struck out on three Frankie Montas fastballs ranging from 94-98. Fouled off one and swung through two. pic.twitter.com/ZpOU6F0Dnt
— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) May 17, 2019