Friday night’s rainout was probably a blessing in disguise for the Detroit Tigers. In game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, Casey Mize needed just one inning of relief help from Jose Cisneros to shut down the Astros and win 3-1.
The Astros got off to a good start with singles from Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley to start the game. Mize wasn’t having it, punching out Yuli Gurriel and then using well located fastballs to dust Yordan Alvarez as well. Carlos Correa grounded out right back to Mize, and just like that one of the Astros best opportunities of the day went for naught.
The Tigers got on the board in the second inning. Miguel Cabrera singled to lead off the frame, then was erased on a Daz Cameron ground ball to third, though Cameron was safe at first. Eric Haase went the opposite way for a single, moving Cameron to third, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Isaac Paredes allowed Cameron to score.
That was the first impact of the new revamped Tigers middle infield, with Paredes at second, and Zack Short playing shortstop. While it probably won’t last long, we saw a couple of nice plays from Short that will only increase the volume on calls to keep him up in favor of Harold or Willi Castro. Hard to argue considering the Tigers are a defensive mess up the middle.
Mize came out in the third and got a pair of quick ground outs before Gurriel singled to left field. Mize and Alvarez locked into a seven pitch battle before Mize walked him. Carlos Correa singled to left to score Gurriel before Mize got Kyle Tucker to end the inning with the score knotted at one apiece.
Short led off the bottom of the third inning with a double, but was stranded as the Tigers went in order from there. Astros starter Framber Valdez and Mize each spun a clean fourth, and while the Tigers rookie allowed a two out single in the top of the fifth, he quickly erased the runner with his second punchout of the dangerous Mr. Alvarez.
The Tigers finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth. Paredes led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Rogers. Short came to the dish and took Valdez the opposite way for a two-run shot, his first major league homer, to make it 3-1 Tigers.
Congrats to Zack Short on his first MLB home run with Dan Dickerson on the call. pic.twitter.com/32VoIYkoQ0— Rogelio Castillo (@rogcastbaseball) June 26, 2021
Mize took the lead and made it stick, pitching around a one out walk in the sixth to close out his start on a high note with a called strikeout of Chas McCormick on a splitter that locked him up.
Jose Cisnero came on to close it out and did so in style, punching out Altuve and Brantley in succession to earn his third save of the season.
Mize is now 5-4 for the year, with a 3.46 ERA. His line today was 6.0 IP, ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 SO. We’ve seen Mize keep hitters in check over the past two months with little more than his fastball-slider combo. So when the splitter shows out? It’s generally a good day.
Casey Mize, Nasty back-to-back Splitters. pic.twitter.com/HyrAgqaQMV— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 26, 2021