Spencer Turnbull impressed at the beginning of Thursday’s game, notching his first seven outs via strikeouts. He struck out the side in a one-two-three first inning, all on different pitches (first his curveball, then his four-seam fastball, then his slider). The second inning was a bit messier, as he issued a hit and a walk, but he struck out the side once again (this time getting one strikeout on his sinker; for those keeping track at home, that means he struck out guys with all four of his pitches in the first two innings today).
Let’s check in on the offense after two innings:
In the bottom of the second, Miguel Cabrera hit a fly ball to right-center field and Victor Reyes, from first base, just kept running. He was doubled off. I don't know, either.— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) August 15, 2019
Yep. That’s about what I was expecting. Let’s continue.
Turnbull stumbled in the third inning. Things looked good when he struck out Dylan Moore swinging with a high fastball, and things still looked good after he allowed a single to Mallex Smith and got J.P. Crawford to ground out. That’s where things went south, as Turnbull allowed back-to-back doubles to Omar Navarez and Kyle Seager. Seager had a two-RBI ground-rule double, and for a moment, it looked like Turnbull would strike him out. During the first four pitches of his at-bat, Seager chased multiple pitches outside of the zone. But then, as you can see, Turnbull clearly hung a curveball:
After that two-run mistake, Turnbull allowed a sharp single to Austin Nola on a slider that sat comfortably in the lower-middle third of the strike zone to make the game 3-0. Nola was thrown out trying to take second base to end the inning, and from there, Turnbull pitched a quick one-two-three inning.
In the fourth inning, the Tigers finally got some offense going, as Victor Reyes led the inning off with a triple, and Dawel Lugo knocked him in with a sacrifice fly. If that doesn’t prove that the Reyes-Lugo one-two punch to lead off the lineup is a success, I don’t know what will. 3-1! Miguel Cabrera has voiced this year that he would be hitting better if he had stronger bats ahead of him the lineup. He must have been particularly happy about Ron Gardenhire’s decision to move the slugging tandem of Reyes and Lugo to the top of the lineup, as he followed their one-two punch up by launching a Tommy Milone changeup deep into the left field seats.
Man, if that isn’t a vintage Miguel Cabrera home run swing. Look at him get his legs into it. Wow. Let that be a lesson to Nicholas Castellanos that you can hit home runs at Comerica Park! 3-2, baby. Brandon “2019 Detroit Tigers Home Run Leader” Dixon and Hittin’ Harold Castro tried to start their own rally after Niko Goodrum grounded out, but Travis Demeritte flew out to end the rally. Just remember: it’s the little victories.
Turnbull came back out for one more inning in the fifth and worked his way into and out of a jam with runners on first and second base. In the sixth, he was relieved by Matt Hall. Turnbull’s final line for today: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K. All in all, he flashed brilliance, but as he did in his previous outing against the Royals, he started hot, had one particularly messy inning put him in line for the loss, and then worked through jams to deliver a solid outing. (But hey: we know the top-of-the-rotation potential is there. He did get the first seven outs today via strikeouts using every pitch in his repertoire.)
As a Tigers fan, you know the deal from here. The bullpen allowed three earned runs of their own, as Matt Hall allowed two earned runs when brought out for a second inning of work and David McKay allowed a run in his debut. One loss closer to the number one overall pick.
Outside of an ugly third inning, Spencer Turnbull flashed his top-of-the-rotation upside.
Outside of a pleasant fourth inning, the Tigers offense was once again anemic.
After bringing David McKay out of the bullpen today, the Tigers have set a franchise record by using 31 pitchers (and counting!) this season, breaking the previous record of 30 held by the 2002 and 2014 squads. In other news, all four pitchers to come in from the bullpen today have an ERA above 5.