The offense got started early, and poured it on from there, scoring multiple runs in four different innings. The leader was again the man with one tasty recipe for crow, outfielder Victor Reyes. However, it was one of the quieter bats on the team who got things started.
Christin Stewart golfed a Josh Lindblom offering into the right field seats to lead off the third inning, and as they would do all night, they didn’t stop at just one run. Willi Castro got the start over Isaac Paredes, and he smoked a one-out double into the right field corner. Victor Reyes singled to right, Jonathan Schoop was hit by a pitch — a theme that would develop to the Tigers’ displeasure over the course of the game — and Jeimer Candelario drew a bases loaded walk. Unfortunately, with two runs in and two outs, Niko Goodrum flew out to end the scoring.
Meanwhile, the Tigers pitchers were doing even better. Michael Fulmer didn’t have his fastball command early on, but he and Grayson Greiner dialed up stronger doses of his slider to compensate, and he ultimately settled in for his best outing of the season. He also got help from his defense, as Stewart made a nice throw from left to get Brewers outfielder Ben Gamel, who tried to stretch a fairly routine line drive to left into a double. Fulmer punched out six in three scoreless innings of work, and while there was some traffic on the basepaths, dug down each time and made quality pitches.
Daniel Norris followed with two and two-thirds innings of solid work as well. For two of those innings, Norris was masterful, pitching backwards as Fulmer had, and striking out four across two perfect frames. In the sixth, Norris seemed gassed. He allowed a solo shot to the first hitter he faced, Christian Yelich, and then after punching out Keston Hiura, allowed three straight singles.
Manager Ron Gardenhire turned to the rookie, reliever Bryan Garcia, and once again the former University of Miami closer was up to the task. Garcia fought through a tough at-bat by Eric Sogard, and ultimately induced a pop-up to third base. He then retired Orlando Arcia on a fly ball to center field, as once again, the Tigers bullpen bent but did not break.
The Tigers offense had continued to pour it on in the interim. JaCoby Jones led off the fourth with a walk, stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error. Willi Castro striped a triple into the right field corner to plate Jones, and then he rode home on another Reyes single. In the sixth, it was Reyes again, clubbing a two-run shot to deep right-centerfield.
With the score 6-1 after six, the Tigers turned to Jose Cisneros for an inning, and while he got into a little trouble, he powered through to keep the Brewers off the board. Kyle Funkhouser had no trouble in the 8th inning, and by then, the Tigers held a 10-1 lead.
Those extra runs came at a painful cost, unfortunately.
Reliever Phil Bickford was making his major league debut for the Brewers, as teams do in a low leverage situation. He was wild, and started off the inning hitting JaCoby Jones and Jorge Bonfacio in the hand. Bonifacio appeared to be all right, but Jones took a fastball right on the same spot that broke his hand previously, and it was announced during the game that his left hand was broken once again.
How do the Tigers handle this? We may see plenty of Willi Castro in right field, rather than left, while Reyes holds down centerfield. Perhaps Derek Hill will finally be turned loose in Comerica Park’s vast lawns on a part-time basis as well. Or maybe they just roll with a Demeritte, Reyes, Stewart-Bonifacio outfield and hope for the best.
On the plus side, Reyes, Castro, Schoop, and Candelario all followed with RBI hits to blow this one wide open. The key, once again, was a nice piece of hitting from Reyes, who flicked an 0-2 fastball into the left field corner for a double. The Brewers had Arcia, their shortstop, throw the ninth, and after a Travis Demeritte single, Grayson Greiner followed with a two-run bomb to put the exclamation point on this one.