Two games at Guaranteed Rate Field. Two starting pitchers making their major league debuts. Two losses. The White Sox sweep the doubleheader.
Game One: White Sox 7, Tigers 5
Game one of today’s doubleheader saw the debut of White Sox prospect Dylan Cease. Cease is a very highly touted prospect — FanGraphs has him listed as their No. 49 prospect in baseball, while MLB Pipeline ranks him much higher, placing him as their No. 18 prospect. The crowd was, understandably, very excited about his debut.
The Tigers pounced on Cease in the first inning to jump out to an early lead. He got two quick outs, but Nicholas Castellanos and Brandon Dixon drew back-to-back walks and Cease hit Jeimer Candelario, setting up Harold Castro to drive in two runs. From there, however, he settled in — besides a Jeimer Candelario solo shot in the fifth inning, the young prospect managed a solid debut. He went five innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits and four walks while striking out six.
Today was not Daniel Norris’s finest outing. Norris suffered from a disappointing slider and subpar defense backing him, but regardless of the reasons and excuses for his struggles, six earned runs over five innings just is not cutting it. After the Tigers handed him a 2-0 lead in the first inning, he allowed former Tiger and 2019 All-Star James McCann to cut the lead to 2-1 with an RBI double in the same inning, and he gave up an RBI double to Leury García in the second inning to tie the game.
While the White Sox did add two more runs in the fourth inning to make it 4-2, this game really ended in the sixth inning. After pitching a very solid one-two-three fifth inning facing the heart of the White Sox lineup, Norris returned for the sixth inning and walked two batters before being removed. From there, Buck Farmer allowed both inherited runners to score, and the rest is history.
The best chance for the Tigers came in the ninth inning against a struggling Kelvin Herrera. Gordon Beckham and Christin Stewart doubles cut the lead to two runs. Nicholas Castellanos, the tying run, came up to the plate...
...and he grounded out on the first pitch. Onto the next one.
Game Two: White Sox 9, Tigers 6
Another game, another debut. Tyler Alexander is not a highly touted prospect, but he has shown some signs of potential recently. At one point in time, he was FanGraph’s No. 4 Tigers prospect, which shows how far the farm system has come. At the end of this past March, FanGraphs described Alexander as being a “sixth starter” type. Meanwhile, his stats at Triple-A Toledo this year have not been encouraging. Alexander has a 2-9 record with a 6.23 ERA and a 5.27 FIP, and he is allowing over two home runs per nine innings. That said, he has struck 25.8 percent of batters in 73.2 innings at Toledo, and on June 22, he threw seven shutout innings while striking out 12 batters.
Things didn’t start out great for Alexander today, as he allowed a solo shot to Yoan Moncada in the first inning (showcasing his problem with the long ball, which, to be fair, is a problem for everybody in the major leagues right now). From there, however, he was sharp. Alexander topped out at around 93 miles per hour and his success came primarily from locating his pitches well on the corners of the strike zone and mixing his repertoire well to keep hitters off balance.
Alexander does not have a clear plus pitch, but his ability to mix his arsenal today led to success. All in all, Alexander was even better than Cease on Wednesday. He ended the day going five innings while allowing two earned runs on five hits and no walks while striking out two. He did allow two home runs in five innings, however, which is a major red flag moving forward.
When it comes to the rest of the game, the Tigers managed to take the lead back after the first inning with singles from Niko Goodrum and Miguel Cabrera, driving in runs off of Ross Detwiler in third inning to make it a 2-1 game. Nicholas Castellanos hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to make it 4-1 and an RBI double in the seventh to make it a 5-2 ballgame after Ryan Cordell hit his first home run of the game. Castellanos, in general, was incredible in game two, going 4-for-5 while driving in three runs and scoring once himself.
Today's word of the day is: Triturate, a verb of Latin origin, meaning to crush.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 4, 2019
Used in a sentence: That baseball was triturated off Nicholas Castellanos' bat. pic.twitter.com/T6PsQCgt7H
Unfortunately, the bullpen had its struggles tonight. Victor Alcántara allowed a two-run home run in the seventh inning to Ryan Cordell, his second of the game, and then a Yoan Moncada sacrifice fly tied the game up, 5-5. The game reached extra innings thanks to a clean one-two-three inning from Joe Jiménez. Bonus baseball!
In the top of the tenth inning, Carson Fulmer entered the game for the White Sox, which boded well for Detroit. (After all, Fulmer had a 6.59 career ERA entering tonight and a 6.14 ERA on the season.) Miguel Cabrera started the inning with a single — who was replaced by pinch runner Christin Stewart — and after Brandon Dixon beat out a potential double play ball on a fielder’s choice, Jeimer Candelario walked, Gordon Beckham struck out, and John Hicks came up with a chance to give the team a lead. Hicks delivered in the clutch, knocking a single to left field to give the team a 6-5 lead before Candelario was thrown out at third.
This paved the way for All-Star closer Shane Greene, who promptly allowed a monster solo home run to Yoan Moncada to tie the game. Fun fact: The last time Shane Greene entered a game I recapped, it was the game in which he allowed five total runs but only one earned. Perhaps Shane just wants to see me write more often. After all, he keeps extending my recaps.
Ahhh. Anyways, Greene quickly got two outs after allowing that home run to Moncada, so the game went to the top of the 11th inning, in which Bobby Wilson drew a walk and nothing else notable happened. Then Nick Ramirez pitched a one-two-three inning. Then he did not and Jose Abreu put me out of my misery, walking the Tigers off with a three-run blast. Nice!
Who was the Tigers player of the day?
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