Wednesday night’s hotly-anticipated Tigers-Red Sox matchup ended up with the Tigers taking the second game of the series, 6-5, with some extra-inning dramatics. With the win, the Tigers snapped a six-game losing streak.
A passing spot of rain caused a 38-minute delay to the beginnings of the proceedings, and there was a steady light drizzle during most of the contest. Even after the rain stopped, it remained a rather chilly and miserable evening for baseball at Fenway.
Martin Perez got the start for “The Bostons,” as Ernie Harwell might call them, and had his cutter working well all evening. Casey Mize, coming off his 6-inning complete game against the White Sox last Thursday, looked to build on that quality start’s three-walk, six-whiff outing.
Mize’s slider was looking mighty fine early on, and he also featured a mid-90s fastball. He walked the first two batters of the second, though, and the first walk recipient, Xander Bogaerts, eventually came around to score on a softly-hit groundout. Ah, the ol’ “run without a hit.” But, also, this:
An observation about Mize: he occasionally seems to be unable to finish off hitters if he has two strikes on them. I know he’s still relatively young — he turned 24 on Saturday — and this was only his 13th start in the bigs, but I really hope he stops nibbling so much. Each of his four walks on the night came after getting two strikes on the batter. I’ll say this, though: JD Martinez’s flyout to end the third was the first hard-hit ball of the evening, so he wasn’t doing all that badly to that point.
Jeimer Candelario led off the fourth with a dribbler for an infield hit; Miguel Cabrera followed with a walk. After Niko Goodrum and Willi Castro both struck out looking, and with JaCoby Jones up, things seemed pretty bleak for the Tigers... but then Jones hit a single to left which eluded Franchy Cordero, allowing Candelario to score.
Mize gave up his first hit with one out in the fourth, a soft ground ball by Christian Vazquez over the mound on which Goodrum nearly made a great play. A bloop single later, a Christian Arroyo ground ball was hit too softly to turn into a double play, which left runners on the corners with two out. Mize bore down and struck out someone not named Christian (i.e., Hunter Renfroe) to end the threat.
Candelario led off the sixth with a funky infield single, and with one out Goodrum singled to right. Candelario aggressively took third, and once Goodrum saw the throw miss the cutoff man, he alertly took second. A soft liner from Willi Castro was the second out, but then Jones struck again.
Mize got into trouble in the bottom of the sixth: a leadoff walk to Martinez and a single to Bogaerts put runners on first and second. Vazquez fouled out to first, and a soft Marwin Gonzalez groundout to first acted like a bunt; Arroyo was then barely hit by a pitch to load the bases with two out. Mize was left in the game to try to get out of the jam... which he did, by getting Renfroe to ground out to third.
Say what you want about AJ Hinch, but he’s letting his young pitchers figure out how to work out of jams rather than yanking them right away. I mean, sure, that’ll backfire a fair amount of times, but I’m a big believer in experiential learning, and what better way to learn how to work out of a tight spot than by actually doing it?
Also of note in decision-making news: Hinch has been sending all kinds of runners this series. He even had Grayson Greiner, of all people, take off running on a full-count pitch to Robbie Grossman in the seventh, who grounded to first — but the motion kept the Tigers out of a double play and put a runner in scoring position with one out. Ultimately it didn’t end up in a run, but hey, you can’t blame a manager for trying something like that.
Daniel Norris took over for Mize to start the seventh and went strikeout, single, strikeout. Bryan Garcia, a righty, was brought in to face Martinez, who routinely kills lefties... and Martinez, naturally, crushed a pitch to right to tie the game at 3. (Shoot, AJ, Norris could’ve done that.)
Willi Castro ripped a two-out double in the eighth to right, which brought up Jones again in a pressure situation. Would Jones come through with another timely hit?
No. No, he would not.
Jose Cisnero came on to start the eighth: strikeout, groundout, flyout to the base of the Monster. I really, really, really hope Cisnero’s back on track.
Matt Barnes, Boston’s closer, pitched the ninth in a tie game, as per tradition, and he struck out the side, including Greiner looking on fastball right down the pipe. C’mon, boys, you can’t be doing that.
Gregory Soto relieved Cisnero for the bottom of the ninth, and he got a groundout and a strikeout. But a walk to Kiké Hernandez put a runner on first, and Rafael Devers pushed him up to third with a double to left. Hernandez runs well, and it was a little surprising that he was held at third. Martinez was intentionally walked to load the bases to face Bogaerts with two outs — I mean, really, Martinez/Bogaerts, that’s a coin-flip either way, isn’t it? — who hit a liner to left. Grossman briefly lost the liner in the lights, but recovered in time:
Next up: Bonus Manfredball!
None other than Grossman was the ghost runner starting the inning on second, and Rule 5 pick Garret Whitlock took over on the mound. Jonathan Schoop battled Whitlock for ten pitches and eventually dropped a little blooper in between outfielders in right-centre to put runners on the corners with one out. Akil Baddoo pinch-ran for Schoop but, shoot, it didn’t matter:
Soto stuck around to start the bottom of the tenth, and Marwin Gonzalez’s one-out bloop single scored the ghost runner to narrow the gap to 6-4. A wild pitch moved Gonzalez up to second, Soto couldn’t field a soft dribbler on wet grass, and none other than Michael Fulmer came on to try and close it out.
Angry Mike the closer. This is a dream come true for me.— Detroit Tigers Minor League Tracker (@Tiger_Lifer) May 6, 2021
Willi Castro juggled a ground ball to second, making it 6-5 with runners on first and second with one out. A soft liner to third by Bobby Dalbec marked the second out. Fulmer had had enough. The big right-hander was lifted after just one inning in Tuesday’s contest, and he seemed to gather some classic Fulmer rage in unleashing 96-97 mph to polish off Hernandez. In the process, Fulmer collected his first—but perhaps not his last—career save. Fulmer starts Tuesday, gets a save Wednesday. How about that. Baseball is fun again!
The Tigers go for the series win tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 pm EDT.
Yup, you guessed it: ROBOT UMPS PLEASE
Pitch #6 to Grayson Greiner, called strike three. Nope.
Down on the Farm: Tork Gets Started
Spencer Torkelson’s first professional hit. pic.twitter.com/lCi54TUfqW— Tigers Minor League Report (@tigersMLreport) May 6, 2021
Bonus minor-league highlight from Erie:
Riley Greene Grand Slam pic.twitter.com/YPI6WuoLFi— Tigers Minor League Report (@tigersMLreport) May 6, 2021
Old Hoss’ take on Tony LaRussa’s extra-inning ghost-runner whoopsie-daisy
I for one think it’s great to have a young, risk-taking manager who isn’t aware of all the rules but makes up for it in moxie and vig...wait, please disregard, we are getting a report in that the manager is not young and this whole situation is bad— Old Hoss Radbourn(e) (@OldHossRadbourn) May 5, 2021
Fun fact: LaRussa and Hoss were once roomies on the Grays.
Stats and notes
- Coming into today’s game, Jonathan Schoop had 30 strikeouts against 4 walks. That’s... not great.
- Yesterday’s 7-run outburst was two runs more than the Tigers had scored in the previous five games combined.
- In the eighth, Christian Vazquez moved from catcher to second base for the Red Sox. Odd.
- Shohei Ohtani’s splitter is sensational this year. Nineteen at-bats have ended in his splitter, and 18 of those have been strikeouts.
- Today is Cinco de Mayo, which is not the Mexican independence day. Per Wikipedia, it’s the anniversary of an important victory of the Mexican army in 1862 over... wait, France? Really? What the heck was France doing fighting Mexico, anyway? There are some things I just don’t understand, and this is one of ‘em.