Detroit continued its streak of dominant starting pitching on Tuesday night, as Robbie Ray beat the Houston Astros (10-23) to hand the Tigers (19-9) their seventh straight victory. The Tigers’ offense woke up from a one-game slump and recorded 18 hits in the 11-4 win.
Ray got through five innings without surrendering a run before Dexter Fowler scored in the sixth inning. Chris Carter hit a popup to Ian Kinsler, who dropped the ball and threw it to second base for a fielder’s choice. Ray was pulled from the game and received a standing ovation from the fans at Comerica Park.
The stage never looked too big for the young lefty as he cut through the Houston lineup. He surrendered a double and an infield single to the first two batters he faced, but struck out Jason Castro and Carter with a runner on third and escaped after a ground out to shortstop.
Ray retired 10 straight batters after a lead-off single in the second inning and finished the game with as many strikeouts (5) as hits allowed. His performance puts him in prime position to earn a second start on May 11 before Anibal Sanchez returns from the disabled list.
Evan Reed relieved the young lefty in the sixth inning and induced a ground ball for a double play on the first pitch he threw. His second double-play ball helped him get through the seventh inning scoreless and drop his ERA to 3.00 on the season.
Detroit’s offense continued to tack on runs throughout the game, much as it did during the one-sided series in Kansas City over the weekend. The Tigers scored in the first inning on a Miguel Cabrera home run to take an early lead before adding runs in the third, fourth, seventh and eighth innings.
Every Tiger batter had a hit during the game for the fourth time in five days. Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez extended their hitting streaks to 13 and nine games, respectively, and rank in the top 10 in the American League in batting average along with teammate Rajai Davis.
The bottom of the order provided a boost for Detroit early in the game, as the seven through nine hitters collected six hits, five runs and three RBI. Kinsler got back on track with three hits to move his average north of .300.
Perhaps the most promising performance of the night came from Cabrera, who racked up four hits, including a home run and a double, four RBI and two runs. Detroit has built a comfortable lead in the American League Central Division despite the MVP’s struggles, so his return to form could signal very bad news for opponents.
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Brett Oberholtzer scattered four runs during his six innings of work before the Houston bullpen took over and imploded. In two innings Detroit tagged the Astros’ relievers for seven runs, including a five-run eighth.
The lone bright spot for Houston was 24-year-old George Springer, who picked up three hits and an RBI. The Astros scored three runs in the top of the ninth to cut into a 10-run deficit, but Justin Miller eventually shut the door to secure the victory.
Detroit has won the first two games of the series in very different fashions, winning a pitcher’s duel on Monday and blowing out the Astros on Tuesday. Game three is at 7:08 on Wednesday night as Rick Porcello gets his turn against the anemic Houston offense.