DETROIT (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Facing Ty Cobb's team, the Tampa Bay Rays supported Alex Cobb with a Ty Cobb-type offense and beat the Tigers, 6-3, Friday night at Comerica Park.
A Ty Cobb offense doesn't feature many homers but brims with extra-base hits and runs. Cobb, greatest of all Tigers and Dead-Ball Era players, struck only 117 homers. But he is fourth all-time in doubles, second in triples, 12th in extra-base hits and second in runs.
Against Tigers starter Drew Smyly on Friday night, Tampa Bay had seven hits. Those broke down as a single, four doubles (including a pair that produced an RBI apiece by Ben Zobrist), a booming two-run triple high off the big right-center fence by Sean Rodriguez that finished Smyly in the sixth, and a bases-empty homer by Evan Longoria.
The Tigers moved within 5-2 in the sixth and had the bases loaded with none out and Torii Hunter up. Alex Cobb, the Tampa Bay starter, exited for right-hander Brad Boxberger, who earlier this season entered a bases-loaded none-out jam and struck out the side on nine pitches. He was almost as good here. He got Hunter to hit into a double play (a run scored) and struck out Don Kelly.
In the night's ominous note, Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez left the game in the eighth inning with irritation in his lower back. This could be a result or a renewal of the ailment -- called a sore side -- that kept him out from Monday through Wednesday. Martinez, who homered in his return Thursday, was 1-for-2 at D.H. when he exited for pinch hitter Rajai Davis.
There was hit-by-pitch trouble. Cobb hit Martinez in the leg while leading 2-0 in the fourth. Smyly hit Longoria with his first pitch in the sixth while down 3-1. Cobb, up 5-1, hit Ian Kinsler to begin the sixth (and a two-run Tigers rally). If any of those were intentional, they weren't wise, given the score and the fact there were less than two out.
After Kinsler got hit, plate umpire Quinn Wolcott warned both sides against further shenanigans. Second-base umpire Greg Gibson, the crew chief, ejected Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon when he wanted to discuss the warnings.
After he had two straight multi-hit games, Austin Jackson had his second four-strikeout game in six days in the leadoff spot.
Kelly played third base in his first start in two weeks. He made several outfield starts earlier this year, but that opportunity has disappeared since J.D. Martinez became an everyday player.