Four games in Chicago, four losses, including a 9-0 drubbing today. It’s a nine-game losing streak. The Tigers then go to Cleveland to play a team that’s beaten them 20 consecutive times. Wait, is it 20? Only 19? Maybe it’s 40, I’m not sure.
I know things are pretty grim with this team right now. But, a cursory glance at my calendar says it’s 2020. Remember a few months ago when a good chunk of the Tigers fan base looked at each other and, while nodding, told themselves, “Okay, so, we’ll get ‘em in 2022, right? Riiiiight?” We replied, “Okay, sounds good, maybe it’s 2021 if everything goes absolutely perfectly.” If it’s still 2020, and I’m pretty sure it is, then just calm down, because any modicum of success the Tigers had earlier this season was probably very, very premature. Relax, take a deep breath, pour yourself a tasty beverage, and delete your Twitter account, probably.
Before we get started on the macabre task of summarizing today’s game, though, can we take a minute to talk about Casey Mize’s debut last night? Check this out.
Early Casey Mize Statcast data:— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) August 20, 2020
4-Seam: 94.2 mph, 2188 rpm
Slider: 88.8 mph, 2278 rpm
Splitter: 85.9 mph, 1124 rpm
Curve: 81.1 mph, 2295 rpm
One of these numbers jumps out at me, for sure.
Getaway day for the Tigers featured, on paper, a solid matchup of starting pitchers, with Lucas Giolito facing Spencer Turnbull. Giolito has had a couple of rough outings so far this season, including his last time out against the Cardinals where he gave up five runs (four earned) in five innings. Who would show up today: the Giolito who got Cy Young votes last year, or the wobbly one of this season so far?
Turnbull dug himself a hole early, promptly loading the bases with two walks and a double. He then walked Edwin Encarnacion to force in a run; a bounceout drove in another, and a single by old friend James McCann pushed across a third. Thirty-seven pitches and 19 strikes in the first for Turnbull suggested his day wouldn’t last long; indeed, he only lasted two innings before Tyler Alexander took over. Some days ya just don’t have it.
Meanwhile, the Tigers’ bats seemed to have been replaced with overcooked spaghetti. Who did that? Who’s responsible for this? I’m going to write a sternly-worded letter.
Alexander’s day started with two quick outs, but McCann singled through the shift and Danny Mendick followed with a hard-hit double off the wall in left. Christin Stewart seemed to lollygag a throw back to the infield, allowing McCann — not a particularly fast runner — to score all the way from first. Stewart’s lackadaisical play got Jim Price on the radio broadcast about as worked-up as he ever gets. I can’t help but wonder if this is the last straw before Stewart and his similarly sluggish bat get demoted.
In the top of the fourth, the Tigers’ bats finally woke up, in a way: three singles, two of the infield variety, loaded the bases for Niko Goodrum with one out. But, both he and the aforementioned Stewart struck out, and that was the end of that.
Tim Anderson was up to his old tricks today, as he led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run; as Rush once noted, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Alexander’s day ended up not being too horrible, with two runs and five hits given up in three innings. At least he didn’t walk anyone.
Kyle Funkhouser came on in the sixth, and he walked a pretty fine line. A pair of one-out singles put runners on the corners, but a first-pitch double-play grounder by Edwin Encarnacion got him out of trouble. Does Funkhouser fit into the Tigers’ plans, or do they cut bait and move on?
Giolito struck out the side in the seventh, all on swinging third strikes, for a total of 13 whiffs on the game. He hit 97 mph (156 km/h, 43.3 m/s) on his final pitch, a four-seamer that got Cameron Maybin on strikes. The at-bat was ultimately a little more costly for Maybin as well:
Cameron Maybin grabbed for his hamstring after fouling off a pitch in the 7th inning.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) August 20, 2020
He stayed in the game to finish the at-bat, but I imagine we'll see a defensive sub in the bottom of the inning.
Indeed, Victor Reyes came into the game for Maybin.
Cameron Maybin left today's game with right hamstring tightness.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) August 20, 2020
A Willi Castro double and a Jeimer Candelario single in the eighth put runners on the corners with one out, and you can probably figure out how that ended.
Joe Jimenez then got a little work in by starting the bottom of the eighth. John Schreiber had to finish it for him, because Tiger pitching lately has been like the garbage truck shown below.
This garbage truck’s load caught fire in downtown Toronto on Monday, forcing the driver to dump it all onto the road. Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames, but part of Simcoe Street was closed for several hours as a result. Read more: https://t.co/CmGmesfFtZ pic.twitter.com/i5LZYYs4e9— CBC Toronto (@CBCToronto) August 17, 2020
Notes and numbers:
- Spencer Turnbull remains the only Tigers starting pitcher this year to last six or more innings.
- Today’s outing by Lucas Giolito matched his career-high of 13 strikeouts,
- On this date in 1977, NASA launched the Voyager 2 spacecraft towards the outer planets. Not only did it take the first close-up views of Uranus and Neptune, it’s still going and has officially left our Solar System.
- Isaac Hayes, Robert Plant, Doug Fieger, KRS-One and Phil Lynott all have/had birthdays today. That’s a pretty nice list of musicians. Fred Durst also has a birthday today.