Win Streak over as Tigers top Red Sox 5-1


The knuckleball is that aerodynamic toss that can either totally baffle the opposition or put your team in a very quick hole. On Saturday afternoon the Tigers jumped on Steven Wright for four runs in four innings aided by four Blake Swihart passed balls in a 5-1 loss. That should max out my allotment of “four’s.”

Wright quickly displayed the two deficiencies that are a curse to knuckleball pitchers and that is the propensity to give up the home run and to bedazzle your catcher with the fluttering ball.

The Tigers wasted no time in going home run when Yoenis Cespedes mauled a flat and very hanging knuckleball off the Advil sign in left to give Detroit a quick 1-0 edge in the first. The symbolism of hitting the Advil sign was a poignant touch on this headache of a season.

The second deficiency quickly surfaced in the top of the second when a walk to J.D. Martinez resulted in a run with a sequence of a passed ball, a second passed ball and a ground out to give the Tigers a 2-0 advantage.

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The Red Sox went into full bonehead mode in the last of the second when David Ortiz slapped a wall ball double setting the stage for Hanley Ramirez to bounce a single off the glove of third baseman Nick Castellanos. Ortiz, getting the green light, attempted to scamper home on the arm of Cespedes. No contest. Out at home.

In the meantime Detroit’s starter, Alfredo Simon, survived several line outs and three hits to have a lead that would soon be more comfortable than 2-0.

The action started with the Martinez duo. Victor Martinez and J.D. both had singles and moved up a base on (surprise) a passed ball – that was number three on the day for Swihart. Castellanos put one into the triangle for a two run double and Simon says “Hey – I’ve got a four run lead!” (sorry – losing does that).

Potential opportunity was lost for the Red Sox in the last of the fourth.

With two outs Ortiz walked, Ramirez singled to center and Pablo Sandoval took a four pitch walk. Yes, an at bat when Sandoval didn’t swing at anything. Up stepped Mike Napoli and a slow roller to third ended the threat.

The fifth inning ended the catching headache for Swihart when with runners on the corners and one out manager John Farrell called in Noe Ramirez who escaped further damage. Wright did manage 4.1 innings of mixed results as the the K-ball looked like a twist party or it was sitting on a tee.

The Red Sox had a brief moment of redemption for the knuckleball battered Swihart, who lined a one out triple into right field and came in for the Red Sox on a Mookie Betts ground out. That one run quickly came back to the Tigers when Castellanos sent one over the Monster in the sixth.

Simon came out for the seventh and quickly left after two pitches to Sandoval with an apparent lower body injury. The journeyman pitched a respectable game going six innings and allowing a lone run. Simon allowed five hits and walked two and struck out four. Simon did pick up a well-deserved win to bump his record to 9-6.

The departure of Simon did nothing to stimulate any offense from Boston as a trio of relievers took control. Ian Krol, Alex Wilson and Joakim Soria shut the Red Sox down the last three innings. Game over and an end to the Tigers two game losing streak and the Res Sox one game winning streak.

Sunday evening will represent the conclusion of the series with a nationally televised contest (parental guidance is being advised). The Tigers will send right-hander Shane Greene (4-7, 6.52) to the mound to face Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (5-3, 4.64).

Game Notes and other detritus
* Crowd got on Ortiz in the sixth for dogging it to first on a bobbled ground out. Charlie Hustle he is not.
* Xander Bogaerts leads all AL hitters with a .405 RISP average (32-79). Xander also made an excellent play in the eighth.
* Wright’s first MLB start in 2013 resulted in Ryan Lavarnway matching a major league record of four passed balls in an inning.
* In the sixth, Farrell won a challenge on a force out at second.
* Tigers manager Brad Ausmus managed Team Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
* On this day in 1941 Lefty Grove wins his 300th game defeating the Cleveland Indians 10-6 thanks to a late game home run by Ted Williams.
* The Red Sox are 17-27 in divisional games this season.
* After last night’s loss the Tigers are .500 on the road.
* David Price has 15 quality starts for 2015.
* The Red Sox eight games losing streak was their longest since May of 2014 (ten games).
* J.D. Martinez is tied for first place in AL outfield assists (12).
* Entering today’s game Mookie Betts was hitting .121 in his last eight games.

Steven Wright. STARTING PITCHING . C+. . Game Ball

The line was 4.1 innings, five hits, four runs (two earned) and two walks and four K’s. Wright tossed 74 pitches and his ball was either flat or had quality movement as attested to by the four passed balls on Swihart. Wright took the loss and now is 3-4 for the year. The Castellanos two run shot was the big mistake.

. Game Ball. Justin Masterson. RELIEF PITCHING . A-

Ramirez put in 1.2 innings allowing one run. Worked out of a first and third jam inherited from Wright.

Justin Masterson

, a 9.5M mop-up man, pitched two scoreless innings allowing one hit.

Craig Breslow

, the white flag that it is over, pitched the ninth without allowing a run. The 4.2 innings allowing one run was excellent.

Game Ball. Blake Swihart. OFFENSE . D.

Two hits for Ramirez and a triple for Swihart – who deserves the game ball out of four passed ball sympathy. RISP was 1-6 and LOB was five. Just six hits for Boston.

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