David Ortiz did his part at the plate to put the Boston Red Sox in a position to win, but the pitching staff failed time and again to get the shutdown inning they needed to put the Detroit Tigers away.
Ortiz crushed one to the 420 mark in center field in his first trip to the plate, but couldn’t clear the fence. Big Papi thought it was gone as he pimped it down the first base line, only to turn on the jets rounding first and barely slide into second safely. Pablo Sandoval moved the runner along on a ground out to first, setting up Travis Shaw to put the Red Sox on the board first with a sac fly.
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Boston tacked on another run in the third inning when the Tigers failed to turn a double play when Rusney Castillo grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing Blake Swihart to sneak in the back door to put the Red Sox up by two.
Rajai Davis came to the plate in the bottom of the inning having struck out in each of his first two at bats, only to quickly fall behind 0-2. Just as it looked like Wade Miley was about to put him away again, Davis smacked a 2-run homer to tie the game. Davis entered the game as the only member of the Tigers lineup able to claim to have had a hit off of Miley, going 1-for-2 with a home run the last time they met.
Ortiz would put the Red Sox back on top with a solo shot in the 6th inning. He probably didn’t hit this one as hard as the one he hit on the double to center earlier in the game, but this one managed to clear the wall. It was Ortiz’s team-leading 23rd home run of the season and No. 489 for his career. He is now on pace to finish the season with 34 home runs, which would put him at exactly 500 for his career.
The sixth inning continues to be an issue for Miley. He entered the game with a 7.20 ERA in the 6th inning of games this season, and it’s once again the point where things began to unravel. J.D. Martinez started it off with his 20th double of the season to drive in Ian Kinsler to tie the game. Xander Bogaerts then made a tremendous diving stab on a ground ball up the middle, but Nick Castellanos was able to beat it out for an infield single that moved the runner over. Miley bounced a pitch in front of the plate that Swihart was unable to block, allowing Martinez to score, then James McCann ripped a double down the left field line to put Detroit up by two.
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The back and forth continued into the 7th as Castillo beat out an infield single on a high hopper to third to score Alejandro De Aza. Boston quickly loaded the bases to chase Alfredo Simon from the game, bringing Ortiz to the plate. Despite that reliever Blaine Hardy was holding opposing left-handed hitters to a .175 average this season, Ortiz rolled a single up the middle to add another pair of runs and give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead as we headed for the seventh-inning stretch.
Junichi Tazawa was a candidate to close game while Koji Uehara is unavailable this weekend, but Farrell wanted him to face the top of the Tigers order in the bottom of the 7th. The Red Sox badly needed a shutdown inning. They didn’t get it. Tazawa threw a hanging splitter to Victor Martinez, who made him pay with a 2-run shot to put Detroit back ahead.
Boston would put the tying run on base when Ortiz drew a two-out walk in the 9th, but Sandoval would strike out to end the game.
The Red Sox drop to 49-62 on the season. After splitting the first two games in Detroit, they will meet again Sunday afternoon in the rubber match of this weekend series.
- Hanley Ramirez was a late scratch from the game after fouling a pitch off his foot last night. De Aza started in left in his place.
- Ortiz’s double in the second inning was his 425th plate appearance of the season, which triggers his $11 million team option for 2016 to automatically vest. The option increases by an additional $1 million in intervals when he reaches 475, 500, 525, 575 and 600 plate appearances, maxing out at a potential $16 million.
- Ortiz’s home run in the 6th was the 21st of his career at Comerica Park, most of any visiting player.
- Swihart had the first 3-hit game of his career, raising his average to .254 this season. All 3 hits were singles and only has 12 of his 44 career hits have gone for extra-bases.
Miley was cruising along through the first four innings, until a 2-run homer in the 5th put the Tigers on the board and then the game got away from him in the 6th as they tacked on three more. He struck out 6 batters and only walked 1 in his 6 innings of work. Despite a less than stellar performance, Miley managed to put himself in line for the win when his offense put the team back ahead in the top of the 7th. He settled for a no-decision when his bullpen spoiled his shot at his 9th win of the season, which would have brought his season record back to .500.
Tazawa blew the lead in the 7th inning to take the loss when he allowed a 2-run homer to V-Mart. Alexi Ogando was in danger of making things worse, but bailed himself out on a risky decision to throw to third to get Andrew Romine on a force out after fielding a bunt from Jefry Marte. It was a bang-bang play that Detroit mysteriously refused to challenge, but Ogando managed to get the lead runner instead of having the bases loaded with nobody out. Ogando struck out the next two batters to escape the inning unscathed.
Ortiz was a triple short of the cycle and put the Red Sox ahead on three different occasions. He scored the first run of the game following a 2nd inning double, broke a tie in the 6th with a home run and drove in two more on a bases loaded single in the 7th. His three hits tied Swihart for the team lead and he was the only hitter in the lineup to record an extra-base hit on his way to driving in a team-high 3 RBI.