Today’s rubber match in the Tigers-Red Sox series proved to be a boxing match. Drunken boxing, to be specific Unfortunately, while Detroit had a strong offense all day, they took more punches than they dealt as the two teams combined for six errors only by the mercies of the official scorer. Red Sox win, 12-9, outhitting Detroit 16-14 in what can only be described as a classic Fenway Park derp fest.
Through three innings, it appeared that this game would surely be yet another lopsided loss. A first-inning J.D. Martinez double gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead, a second-inning Franchy Cordero double bumped that lead up to 2-0, and after the Tigers notched a run of their own on a sharp Akil Baddoo line-out to score JaCoby Jones, the Red Sox came back with two more runs of their own to make it a 4-1 ballgame. Two of the four Red Sox runs off of Turnbull were unearned due to an error by Niko Goodrum, but Turnbull was not good, throwing only three innings while allowing seven hits and hitting two batters.
After the third inning is where the fun begins. Although Spencer Turnbull failed to deliver a good start for Detroit today and Nathan Eovaldi flashed great stuff, especially in the first three innings, the Tigers offense showed up for the third game in a row (something that does not happen very often these days.) It all began in the fourth inning with a Jonathan Schoop single, hit to just the right area of the infield so that he would be safe. Jeimer Candelario followed this up with another single before Wilson Ramos hit an RBI double to drive in Schoop and make it a 4-2 ballgame.
Next, Niko Goodrum struck out for the first out of the inning by whiffing at three straight pitches, but Harold Castro followed Goodrum’s disappointing at-bat with a 2 RBI single to tie the game, 4-4. The Tigers would not score again in the inning, though Akil Baddoo notably worked a walk after a ten-pitch at-bat versus Eovaldi.
Now, the action did not stop here. In the bottom half of the fourth, the Red Sox plated their fifth run despite Tyler Alexander allowing only one hit and not throwing a single ball. After a three-pitch Franchy Cordero strikeout and an Alex Verdugo flyout, J.D. Martinez reached second base on a Jeimer Candelario throwing error. Xander Bogaerts made Detroit pay for the error with a single to center field to make it a 5-4 ballgame. Bogaerts also reached second base after JaCoby Jones threw to home despite having no chance to get Martinez out at the plate, but Alexander nevertheless retired Rafael Devers to end the inning and limit the damage.
In the fifth inning, the Tigers did not lose their bite. Once again, the top half of the frame began with Jonathan Schoop reaching on an infield single and Jeimer Candelario following that up with a base hit of his own. This time, however, a Wilson Ramos ground-out advanced the runners, and a Niko Goodrum single knocked in Schoop and Candelario. For the first time all game, Detroit led, 6-5. In the bottom half of the frame, Tyler Alexander would allow a double to Marwin Gonzalez but strand him in scoring position.
In the sixth, the Jonathan Schoop and Jeimer Candelario combination again worked their magic. After Victor Reyes and Akil Baddoo made two quick outs to open the inning, Robbie Grossman singled, stole his seventh base of the young season (he’s on pace to steal 36 bases over a 160-game span!), and Schoop walked before Candelario singled for a third time to give Detroit a 7-5 lead.
Unfortunately, AJ Hinch sent Tyler Alexander back out for a third inning with a very limited set of bullpen options, and the Red Sox made Detroit pay. After two consecutive sharp line drive singles from Franchy Cordero and Alex Verdugo, Hinch pulled Alexander for Buck Farmer. Three batters latter, it was 8-7 Boston. Two of those runs are charged to Alexander, but the one earned run charged to Farmer leaves him with a 12.66 ERA this season. Kyle Funkhouser then entered and wiggled out of a jam. He notched three outs, allowing just one walk, and limited the Sox to three runs in the frame, leaving the door open for a Detroit comeback.
With the door open, Detroit once again stormed back. In the seventh inning, with Harold Castro on third and JaCoby Jones, who once again reached on an error, at second, Victor Reyes grounded out, bringing home Castro and tying the game at eight. After Kyle Funkhouser pitched a mostly clean seventh inning, only allowing a leadoff hit to Franchy Cordero, Robbie Grossman led off the eighth with a walk, made it to second on a balk (this game just gets better and better, doesn’t it?), advanced to third on a ground out, and scored on a Wilson Ramos single. 9-8! Two singles via Niko Goodrum and Harold Castro later, the bases were loaded for JaCoby Jones, who struck out. So it goes.
Now, you might be asking: the shenanigans can’t just end here, can they? Don’t worry! If you wanted Niko Goodrum to make a second error and for Alex Lange to strike out two batters before losing his ability to throw strikes, you’re in luck. With Franchy Cordero on first (and only there because of an error), Kevin Plawecki drew a walk, and Christian Vazquez worked his way to a 3-0 count before launching a single to tie the game 9-9!
After that single, AJ Hinch once again had had enough. He went to Gregory Soto, who should have gotten the third out, but a fourth Tigers error, Candelario’s second of the day—though the fault was entirely Soto’s for charging the slow chopper into Candelario’s path with no heed for the fact that it was the third baseman’s play all the way—allowed Cordero to score. 10-9. Losing like that would have been too agonizingly painful, of course, so Alex Verdugo put the Tigers out of their misery with a two-run seeing eye single to make it 12-9.