DETROIT – The Giants lineup finally cooled off on Sunday, but it wasn’t a former Cy Young winner like David Price or Max Scherzer or even Justin Verlander who applied the ice.
It was a spot starter from the Detroit Tigers bullpen, Kyle Lobstein, and four relievers who held them to a run on six hits. More than anything, it was Miguel Cabrera, whose two-run home run in the third inning gave the Tigers a three-run lead and put the Giants on their heels.
Tim Hudson threw one very bad curveball to the wrong hitter and the Giants weren’t able to rally in a 6-1 loss at Comerica Park.
Don’t try telling the Giants that Cabrera is having a year beneath his standards. He was 6-for-12 in the series with three home runs, six RBIs and four runs scored. He also reached 100 RBIs for the 11th consecutive season – something only Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Alex Rodriguez have done in baseball history.
The Giants still took two of three on the road from a playoff contender and finished their road trip 4-3, if you count the victory in the suspended game at Coors Field. They entered this series 0-7 in American League parks this season.
Starting pitching report
Hudson (9-10) has made a gradual descent from fantastic prior to the All-Star break to merely serviceable in the second half.
In his first 17 starts, he had a 2.53 ERA, yielded six home runs, struck out 4.6 batters per walk and hitters had a .277 average on balls in play.
In his last 11 starts, he has a 4.15 ERA, yielded eight home runs, struck out 2.5 batters per walk and hitters had a .313 average on balls in play.
He was the definition of serviceable Sunday, giving up three runs in six innings to meet the minimum standards for a quality start. All three runs he allowed came in the third inning, and he might have gotten away with a couple more mistakes – especially on a lineout from Alex Avila with one out and two runners in base in the fourth.
But ultimately, he lost because of an infield single, a bloop RBI single from Torii Hunter and a home run surrendered to a Triple Crown Winner, and there’s certainly no shame in that.
Andrew Romine started the third with a hot shot down the third base line that Joaquin Arias did everything to turn into an out. He made a terrific stop, spun to his feet and got off a strong throw that arrived a blink late. Hunter dropped his two-out single into shallow right-center and Cabrera mashed an 0-1 curveball that was most decidedly hung.
Cabrera entered the game with a .429 average against Hudson, but the home run was his first against the right-hander in 30 career at-bats.
The Tigers clearly entered the game with the intent to run on Hudson’s first move. They stole three bases on him, and Romine added another against George Kontos and Buster Posey in the seventh. It was the first time the Tigers stole four bases in a game since 2009 – when Aubrey Huff was their DH and the thong was still hanging on a men’s furnishings display somewhere.
Hudson threw 73 of his 106 pitches for strikes. He hadn’t thrown as many as 100 pitches in any of his six previous starts.
Is there a more underrated hitter in baseball than Victor Martinez?
The Tigers’ cleanup man hit a two-run double off Jeremy Affeldt to blow open the game in the seventh inning. George Kontos set up the scoring rally by allowing three hits in a five-batter span, including a single to Cabrera that accounted for his 100th RBI of the season – the 11th consecutive year he has reached that benchmark.
Hunter Strickland showed more than a 98 mph fastball, using both a slider and power curve to strike out two in a perfect eighth inning.
At the plate
Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn’t try to load his lineup with right-handed hitters against Lobstein, perhaps because the lefty was making a spot start out of the bullpen and there was no guarantee he’d hang around long.
Lobstein (1-0) was efficient enough to let 86 pitches take him through 5 2/3 innings while holding the Giants to a run on four hits to receive his first major league win. Gregor Blanco doubled in the fifth and scored when Angel Pagan chopped a two-out infield single over the mound.
Other than that, the Tigers – even their problematic bullpen -- managed to cool off a Giants offense that had amassed 109 hits over their previous eight games. Hunter Pence was 0 for 3 with a walk to stop his hitting streak at 18 games.
Jim Johnson entered with a five-run lead and gave a glimpse of why the A’s paid him $10 million to go away. He walked two of the first three batters in the eighth, and went 3-0 on the other one, but managed to escape without giving up any runs.
Angel Pagan nearly hit into a triple play in the ninth, and it might have been turned had Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler actually thrown to first base.
Neither the Tigers nor the Giants gave away any extra outs afield, although Posey did allow a passed ball that added more tackiness to Hudson’s jam that he managed to escape in the fourth.
Posey is now at 22.5 percent at catching attempted base stealers this season.
The Tigers announced 27,523 paid, and there were a lot of fans this weekend walking around while wearing Giants gear. In this case, it was blue Giants gear. The New York Giants are playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Monday.
The Giants take Monday off before beginning a six-game homestand with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. It’ll be Yusmeiro Petit (4-3, 3.89 ERA) against Arizona left-hander Wade Miley (7-10, 4.18) on Tuesday; Ryan Vogelsong (8-10, 4.06) against Arizona right-hander Josh Collmenter (10-7, 3.81) on Wednesday; and Jake Peavy (4-4, 2.36) against Arizona right-hander Randall Delgado (3-3, 5.40) on Thursday.