Baseball / Sports

Detroit Tigers Robbie Ray smiles as he talks to Max Scherzer, center, and Justin Verlander, right, in the dugout after he was taken out of his start in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in Detroit on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Tigers' offense backs Robbie Ray's debut

DETROIT -- Left-handed pitcher Robbie Ray was impressive in his major league debut for the Tigers, retiring 13 of the next 14 batters he faced after giving up consecutive hits to start the game.

Ray exited to a standing ovation after allowing five hits, one walk and one earned run over 51/3 innings with five strikeouts.

"My team was behind me the whole night, making plays behind me and I couldn't be happier," Ray said. "It was a great experience."

The Tigers went on to beat the Astros, 11-4, on Tuesday night at Comerica Park and have now won seven straight.

Miguel Cabrera was 4-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored and Danny Worth was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. The Tigers finished with 18 hits, including one from every player in the starting lineup.

Ray was the key piece in the December trade that sent Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals. While he might not be ready for a spot in the starting rotation just yet, he gave the Tigers a solid spot start in place of Anibal Sanchez, who is on the disabled list with a blister on his middle finger of his right hand.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus wasn't prepared to say that Ray would definitely get a start without talking first to general manager Dave Dombrowski, but offered: "I'd be surprised if it was somebody else at this point."

Ray had runners on the corners with none out in the first inning, but got out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. He needed 23 pitches to get out of the inning.

He threw a 91 m.p.h. fastball for a ball on his first pitch in the big leagues, then gave up a bloop double to leadoff hitter Jose Altuve on the next pitch.

The next batter, Dexter Fowler hit a grounder to first. Cabrera tossed the ball to Ray, who appeared to misjudge how quickly Fowler could get to the bag before he could.

Jason Castro and Chris Carter each struck out swinging on 92 m.p.h. fastballs and then Jesus Guzman grounded out to second.

"First inning, nerves were pretty high but after I got out of that first inning, I settled in and I started pitching like I know how to," Ray said.

Ray retired 10 in a row after giving up an infield single to George Springer in the second inning.

"I thought his fastball played well, played up a few miles an hour from the radar gun," Ausmus said of Ray. "I thought his curveball started out not great and then came around nicely. His changeup was pretty consistent all night.

"Certainly an excellent outing, first outing for sure for Robbie."

Ray again faced runners on the corners with none out in the sixth inning. Ian Kinsler dropped a pop up hit by Carter, which allowed Fowler to score from third. Carter was credited with an RBI on what resulted in a fielder's choice and Ray was charged with an earned run.

Right-hander Evan Reed replaced Ray and got Guzman to ground into a double play.

The Tigers had taken a 4-0 lead before the Astros scored in the sixth.

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a solo home run to left-center by Cabrera. The Tigers should have a two-run lead, but Torii Hunter, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double, was caught trying to steal third before Cabrera hit his third home run of the season.

Astros left-hander Brett Oberholtzer gave up three consecutive singles on three pitches in the third to Alex Avila, Worth and Kinsler. Hunter then swung at the first pitch he saw and hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring home Avila. Victor Martinez added a two-out RBI single to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the third. Martinez extended his hitting streak to nine games.

The Tigers added another run in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead. Oberholtzer gave up consecutive singles to Austin Jackson and Nick Castellanos. With one out, Jackson stole third and came home on a sacrifice fly by Worth.

The Tigers began the seventh with three consecutive singles off right-hander Jose Cisnero, including an RBI single by Cabrera. J.D. Martinez added a sacrifice fly to score Hunter as the Tigers took a 6-1 lead in the seventh.

The Tigers added five more runs in the eighth on a two-run single by Worth, a two-run double by Cabrera and an RBI single by J.D. Martinez.

The Astros scored three runs in the ninth, one earned.

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