DETROIT – – Pressure from Robbie Grossman in the 10th inning secured the victory and the Detroit Tigers won a smallball duel, beating the Houston Astros 2-1 on Sunday for a split from their four-game streak.
The Tigers (34-44) have gone 5-2 against Houston (48-30) this season. There were only a total of seven hits in their last meeting this year, and Detroit had only needed three to win.
“We can walk into the clubhouse knowing that we just separated from these guys, and we could have won three of four,” Grossman said. “It’s a great feeling. “
Tigers manager AJ Hinch is not surprised that his current side, which improved to 26-25 since May 1, were able to beat their old one.
“It just confirms what we tell these guys every day – it’s a great baseball team,” he said. “We were terrible in April and we don’t need to go back to that, but now we are competitive against good teams and good pitchers.”
In Houston’s 10th, Gregory Soto (4-1) walked first hitter Chas McCormick with automatic runner Abraham Toro in second. Jason Castro sacrificed the runners, but Jose Altuve got out and Myles Straw was knocked out.
“We’ve had a lot of chances in this series, and we haven’t taken advantage of them,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s largely the Tigers, though. They pitched well enough to beat us.
Houston brought in Blake Taylor (0-2) late in the round with Akil Baddoo starting second. Jonathan Schoop’s withdrawal moved the winning point to third place for Grossman.
Grossman cushioned Taylor’s first pitch from the third base of the mound and Baddoo beat Taylor’s desperate flip.
“I didn’t quite get the ball where I wanted it, but I made sure the pitcher lined up the ball,” Grossman said. “That’s all we needed with Akil’s speed.”
The game was Detroit’s first dropout since John Hicks led JaCoby Jones in the 12th inning of a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
“We are playing on the strengths of the staff that we have on the roster,” Hinch said. “We’re trying to find ways to win games, and this one has worked.”
Houston starter Jake Odorizzi allowed two hits and one walk in five innings. In his last three outings – two starts and a long relief performance – he allowed four hits and two walks in 14 scoreless innings, striking out 15.
“Everyone wants more innings, but I’m just happy with the results I’m getting right now,” he said. “If I can keep giving us chances to win games, I’ll be happy. “
Tigers starter Tarik Skubal gave up one run on a hit and three walks in seven innings, striking out nine.
“I’ve never faced them before, but obviously I know what they can do against left-handed pitchers,” he said. “The White Sox are tough on lefties, so I took a lot of that approach in this game. “
The Astros charged up the goals with a strikeout in the fourth, but Skubal managed to escape with only a sacrificial volley from Carlos Correa. It was Correa’s fifth RBI in the series.
“We had a lot of issues with this young man in this round, and he got away with it right away,” said Baker. “I don’t know which round they got him, but he’s as good as any young pitcher we’ve faced this season.”
Cristian Javier beat Willi Castro and Zack Short with one out in the Detroit seventh, but knocked out Jake Rogers. Baker brought in Brooks Raley and Baddoo equalized the game with a sweet right single.
Both teams had two runners in the eighth, but couldn’t win the go-ahead.
“Our bullpen box really got a lot going today,” Hinch said. “(Jose) Cisnero gets (Yordan) Alvarez strikeout to finish eighth, then we got two great innings from Soto.”
The Tigers kept Short, who had been called up as the 27th man for Saturday’s doubles program, as optional INF Isaac Paredes at Triple-A Toledo. They also placed RHP Michael Fulmer (sprained cervical spine) on the 10-day injured list and recalled LHP Miguel Del Pozo from Toledo.
Tigers: Jump over Lake Erie for a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians. Matt Manning (1-1, 3.38) will face Eli Morgan of Cleveland (0-2, 10.32) in Monday’s opener.
Astros: Come home for a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Houston is expected to start Zack Greinke (8-2, 3.56) on Monday as the Orioles haven’t announced a starter.