BOSTON -- Blaine Hardy's conversion from reliever to starter had been going well until Wednesday night, and more specifically the third inning, when the Red Sox hung four on the Tigers left-hander en route to a 7-1 victory at Fenway Park.With a 1-0 lead in hand, things began to unravel
BOSTON -- Blaine Hardy's conversion from reliever to starter had been going well until Wednesday night, and more specifically the third inning, when the Red Sox hung four on the Tigers left-hander en route to a 7-1 victory at Fenway Park.
With a 1-0 lead in hand, things began to unravel immediately for the left-hander, who saw Rafael Devers single to lead off the third inning and score on the very next pitch as Christian Vazquez popped a double high off the Green Monster.
Hardy hit the next batter, Jackie Bradley Jr., and the top of the vaunted Red Sox lineup -- Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts -- followed with back-to-back doubles.
When the dust settled, the scoreboard read 4-1 in favor of the hosts.
"It's a good hitting team. The third caught up to me really quick," Hardy said. "They put some good swings on some good pitches. That being said, I was happy with my command, I was happy with my pitch selection. It just didn't go my way in the third. You take away the third, I thought it was a good outing."
Benintendi tacked on another run to Hardy's tally when he led off the fifth inning with a home run into the Boston bullpen.
The Tigers grabbed the early lead in the second inning on a Jose Iglesias single that plated JaCoby Jones, who reached in the prior at-bat by way of a two-out triple.
Detroit threatened in both the sixth and the seventh innings by loading the bases, but was ultimately denied any additional runs.
Leading off the bottom half of the same inning, Vazquez welcomed reliever Buck Farmer to the fray by depositing his first offering into the Green Monster seats in left field to provide some added cushion for Boston.
"They had the one big inning early, scored four," said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. "We hung in there after that for a while, but they keep adding on you. You make a mistake and they'll jump you, put it out of the ballpark, or off that doggone wall. We knew that coming in here; they're a very good team."
Hardy, who entered the night with a 2-0 record and 2.82 ERA in four starts this season, fell victim to Boston's buzzsaw of bats, but was able to help a taxed pitching staff by grinding out six innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.
"He even came out after the fifth and said, 'I'm good, I can go one more.' All these pitchers know what's going on," said Gardenhire. "We've got to pick them up, too, though; we've got to score. If we score and take some pressure off them, that might help, too."
"They swing the bat well, even when you're making pitches," Hardy added. "They find a way to keep runners on and keep that merry-go-round going."
Prior to Wednesday, the Tigers starter had allowed two or fewer runs in each of his prior starts.
His counterpart, Eduardo Rodriguez, settled in nicely after spotting Detroit an early run and cruised to his seventh win of the season, allowing five hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings.
"Even though he threw a hundred-plus pitches, he was pretty filthy," Gardenhire said. "The back-door little cutter, he's got a great arm and he kept us off balance. He misses just enough to make him effective, and we made him throw a lot of pitches."
The Tigers saw their streak of 53 straight games with a double come to a halt. That run was the longest such streak in team history and third longest in the Majors since 1908. Cleveland's run of 75 straight with a double in 1996 is the longest streak in the last 110 years.
HE SAID IT
"You ever try to hit with a light like that in your face? That's not supposed to happen. The umpire, in my opinion, should have stopped it right away. They see it happen, it's right in dead center field. The fans are just having fun, I get it. But when it's in dead center field, my hitters are looking right into it. It's dangerous. It's very dangerous if you've ever been trying to hit with a light in your face. We just couldn't let that happen. These fans have a ball here, it's a great ballpark, but still, that's dangerous." -- Gardenhire, on the fans at Fenway flashing cellphone lights in the stands
Though in the midst of 18 games in 17 days, the Tigers' lone road trip in that stretch is to Boston, where they will conclude a three-game set Thursday. Starter Matthew Boyd, making his Fenway Park debut, will look to help send them back home on the right note. The left-hander has made two prior starts vs. the Red Sox, but carries a 12.00 ERA in six innings against the hosts.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.