A baseball game? Against a new team? In 2020? I had to see it to believe it, but on Tuesday night in Cincinnati, that’s exactly what happened. The Tigers took on the Reds in the first of their two exhibition games, and after going undefeated in intra-squad play, were handed their first loss in the month of July. The teams combined for nine home runs, but ultimately it was the Reds who outslugged the Tigers to a 9-7 victory.
The Tigers raced out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning courtesy of back-to-back-to-back homers from JaCoby Jones, Niko Goodrum, and Jonathon Schoop. While the barrage of runs came off of Nick Lodolo, a 22-year-old who has never pitched above Single-A, it was refreshing to see the Tigers find some power, an element that was sorely lacking last season. Schoop’s was an especially impressive second-deck shot to left field.
The Reds got all of their runs courtesy of the long-ball, and got right back into the game with homers from Freddy Galvis and Tucker Barnhart in the second and third innings off of Dario Agrazal, who started for the Tigers.
After a three-run shot to dead center from Japanese rookie Shogo Akiyama off of David McKay in the fifth, the Reds had tied the game 6-6, where it would remain until the bottom half of the eighth.
Former first-round pick Beau Burrows was summoned out of the bullpen to face the heart of the Reds lineup — yes, they kept most of their starters in despite it being an exhibition — and let me tell you, they tee’d off on him. After hitting Joey Votto with his first pitch of the inning, Burrows was bombed by former Tiger Eugenio Suarez who unloaded on a fastball for a two-run shot that made Schoop’s home run look like a cheapie. Burrows finished the inning, but not before giving up a solo-shot to Jesse Winker, which almost left the stadium in right field.
Brandon Dixon, who somehow unbelievably led the Tigers in home runs in 2019, led off the ninth with a home run to center field off the Cincinnati closer Rasiel Iglesias, but he would respond by setting the rest of the hitters down in order.
The Tigers emptied their bench throughout the game, and Hittin’ Harold Castro, who came into the game at second base, did what he does best by swatting a double into the right-center field gap in his only at bat. Schoop had the most impressive night at the plate, going 2-4 with a double and a home run, while Miguel Cabrera and C.J. Cron each added two singles.
Beyond Agrazal, McKay, and Burrows, the trio of Bryan Garcia, Gregory Soto, and Kyle Funkhouser each pitched scoreless innings. Garcia and Soto, who both seem to have spots in the Tigers bullpen locked down to open the season, commanded the ball very well.
Friend of the site and writer for Tigers Minor League Report, Chris Brown has plenty of highlights up on Twitter.
JaCoby Jones, Nick Goodrum, and Jonathan Schoop go back... pic.twitter.com/8tLt3yVjij— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) July 21, 2020