The game is still going on — as I write this the White Sox are leading the Tigers 5-4 in the eighth — but a play that happened in the bottom of the fifth sums up the frustration of the Tigers season.
Bases loaded, one out and Dayan Viciedo at the plate. Doug Fister, a ground ball pitcher, needs a grounder to get out of the inning. He gets it! A grounder to short, the flip to Omar Infante at second to get one out, then …. oh no! The takeout slide. Watch. Two runs score, putting the White Sox up 5-4.
Except, for as great as that takeout slide by Alex Rios was — and it was friggin’ textbook — watch all the way through to the final slow motion replay. Even with Infante’s throw disrupted by the takeout slide, Prince Fielder could have and should have scooped that ball up. If he had, the runner is out, neither run scores and the Tigers head into the sixth up 4-3.
Bad infield defense and ground ball pitchers don’t go together very well. And it has killed the Tigers all year.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.