Three extras from the Tigers’ ninth straight win at Target Field:
Hector Santiago’s statistics say Tuesday’s start broke his streak of four solid outings, a span in which he posted a 1.80 ERA over 25 innings. But the lefthander said the numbers are worse than the performance — he feels like he pitched pretty well.
“Take away two pitches, and it’s a different game,” Santiago said of his outing, in which his allowed six runs over 5 1/3 innings. The mistakes, he said, were a triple by Cameron Maybin that gave Detroit its 1-0 lead in the third inning, and a fastball to James McCann that ended his night.
Jose Iglesias was on base because of a broken-bat single, and Justin Upton was on because of a soft line drive that got through the infield, both of which came on 0-and-2 pitches. But then came McCann, and a 2-2 four-seam fastball that Santiago regretted. “All night, I think that was only pitch I left over the middle of the plate. And he got it,” Santiago said of McCann’s blast into the bullpen. “For the most part, all night I executed the pitch I needed to.”
Even his manager agreed. “I thought Hector was OK,” Paul Molitor said, “but it slipped away in the sixth.”
Santiago said he was as surprised as anyone by Miguel Cabrera’s aggressive base-running in the fourth inning. He led off by hustling to turn a single into the gap into a double, barely beating Byron Buxton’s throw. Then he tagged up on J.D. Martinez’s routine fly ball to center, and again got to third just before Buxton’s throw.
Santiago, backing up third base on the play, mentioned his surprise to Cabrera as he walked past. “I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ But he kind of laughed it off,” Santiago said.
Then came Justin Upton’s grounder to third, which Eduardo Escobar threw to first for the out. Cabrera surprised the entire stadium by breaking for the plate, and it appeared to be a bad gamble when Kennys Vargas relayed the ball home. Umpire Adrian Johnson called Cabrera out, but the Tigers challenged, and replays showed that John Ryan Murphy’s high tag came a split-second after Cabrera’s foot touched the plate.
“When he went home, I saw the first two steps and I thought he was trying to fake [us] out,” Santiago said. “He took the third one, and I started to yell, ‘Four! Four’ [the signal to throw home]. He did a good job. He caught everyone off guard there.”
Shrugged Molitor, “we had three chances to throw him out.”
Max Kepler walked in the second inning, but then was thrown out trying to steal second. It was the first time in Kepler’s career that he had been thrown out; the rookie was 5-for-5 to that point.
But the Tigers couldn’t throw out Brian Dozier. Almost nobody has this year. Dozier’s successful first inning steal gave him 16 steals in 18 tries, an 88.9 percent success rate that is tied for third in the majors among players with at least 15 steals. Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier leads the majors with a 90.9 percent success rate (20-for-22).