BOSTON - For a while, it was a good game.
That much could be said for tonight’s showdown between the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox, the latest matchup between longtime foes Justin Verlander and Chris Sale.
It was back-and-forth, with great defense, good pitching, some hitting and though it was close on the score board – at least through six innings – it showed how far apart the two teams are from one another in trying to contend in the American League.
The Red Sox bullpen didn’t allow a run. The Tigers’ allowed eight. They lost, 11-3, at Fenway Park.
Tied at three after six innings, Warwick Saupold – thrust into duty because righty Shane Greene was unavailable after pitching the past two days – allowed three runs on four hits in the bottom of the seventh inning for the loss.
The killer crush came from who else but Mitch Moreland, who has torched the Tigers this season. He hit a two-run double over Justin Upton's head in leftfield and off the Green Monster for a lead the Red Sox wouldn’t relinquish.
It was another disappointing loss, given the fact the Tigers scored three times off Sale, Boston's ace left-hander. With Verlander not at his best, making his first start since exiting his last start with right groin tightness, it was a generous offensive output but one that went unrewarded.
Verlander was ineffective, his pitch count driven up early by foul ball after foul ball, and allowed three runs on five hits and four walks – one intentional – over five innings. He struck out three.
The Tigers had two opportunities to push a run across in the early innings. First, with two on and two outs in the top of the first, J.D. Martinez hit a jam shot that was saved by Jackie Bradley, Jr. in centerfield with a beautiful diving catch.
Then, in the top of the third inning, Jose Iglesias led off with a double and did not score on an Ian Kinsler single to rightfield, which proved problematic. Sale then locked down, striking out the middle of the Tigers order to strand Iglesias at third base.
The Red Sox opened the scoring an inning later, loading the bases against Verlander with nobody out. Dustin Pedroia delivered a sacrifice fly and after Verlander felt he was squeezed on a two-strike pitch, that man – Moreland -- singled through the hole at second base.Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) loses the ball
The Tigers battled back twice against Sale, tying the game the next inning when Nick Castellanos doubled home a run and Cabrera drove in another on a fielder’s choice and then after the Red Sox went ahead again on a sacrifice fly, Mikie Mahtook evened the scoring on a jam job single into right-centerfield.
It would only spiral out of control from there, with the Red Sox scoring three times in the bottom of the seventh and five times against Arcenio Leon in the eighth.
The Tigers have lost three straight games. They are 29-32.
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