A very mediocre outing from Casey Mize and the thin Tigers bullpen did them in on Wednesday night, falling to the Mariners 9-6 in 11 innings.
Mize was quite erratic in this one. He put together a couple of strong innings, but also lost the plot at times, struggling to command the fastball, let alone the splitter. His opposite number, Chris Flexen had similar difficulties, and both men were dinged up in one inning in particular. Still, neither offense was really able to break through, in part because of some fantastic defense played in the outfield.
Mize got plenty of his help from his teammates, particularly Sheriff Jake Rogers, but it was Derek Hill who started things off with a defensive gem. In the process, he unfortunately took himself out of the lineup for a while.
In the first inning, after Mize hit Mitch Haniger with one out, Kyle Seager hit a 420-foot missile to center field. Hill raced back, leapt, and hauled it in, crashing into the wall in the process. He came down writhing in pain, and was forced to leave the game with a strained right shoulder. Friends down in Toledo noted that Daz Cameron was pulled from the Mud Hens game not long after, so we’ll expect to see him take Hill’s place for a spell.
Damn, Derek Hill! He had to come out of the game but what a catch! pic.twitter.com/WUThrqL8H1— Eric Samulski (@SamskiNYC) June 9, 2021
To his credit, despite fighting his command, Mize hung in there for most of his outing. From the second through the fifth inning, he only allowed a walk and a single. Meanwhile his teammates were starting to get to Flexen.
In the second inning, Isaac Paredes hammered a fastball deep into the right center field corner for a triple. For the second time in three games, Niko Goodrum then unleashed a 420 foot fly ball that was Comerica’d by a nice leaping catch against the out of town scoreboard by right fielder Dillon Thomas to end the inning.
The Tigers came back in the bottom of the third and finally put one on the board. Jake Rogers led the way, as he did much of the night. He walked to lead off the frame, moved to second on Akil Baddoo’s—replacing Derek Hill in center field—single, and a pair of sacrifice flies from Robbie Grossman and Jonathan Schoop scored Rogers to give the Tigers the first lead of the game.
They came back for more in the fifth. With one out, Jake Rogers hammered a fastball some 425 feet over the out of town scoreboard to make it 2-0 Tigers. Akil Baddoo followed with a 415 footer that bounced on the warning track and over the wall for an unfortunate ground rule double. Fortunately, Robbie Grossman followed with a solid single to right and Baddoo raced home to make it 3-0 Tigers. Easy game right?
Of course, one of the odd things about baseball is how a game will go along scoreless for several innings, but as soon as one team scored, the other team suddenly wakes up as well. So it was in the top of the sixth for Casey Mize. He simply couldn’t locate anything, grooving several pitches down the middle. J.P. Crawford doubled to lead off the inning. Mitch Haniger singled, and Kyle Seater mashed a three-run shot to right field to tie the game before Mize had recorded an out in the inning. Mize got a pair of outs, and then walked Taylor Trammell. The Mariners center fielder tried to steal second however, and that’s not easy to do on Rogers. A lightning quick transfer and a perfect throw to second cut Trammell down and stopped the bleeding.
The Tigers went down quickly in the bottom of the sixth. Derek Holland allowed a single and a walk in the top of the seventh, but Kyle Funkhouser came on and got a first pitch double play ball to get out of trouble without any damage. However, other than another Rogers walk, the Tigers went quickly in the bottom of the inning.
Funkhouser quickly blew away Seager on three pitches and got a ground out from Ty France to start the eighth. A.J. Hinch turned to Gregory Soto to get Jake Fraley, a lefty, for the final out. However, Jake Fraley singled and then stole second with Soto paying him no mind at all. Soto unleashed a wild pitch next, sending Fraley breaking to third, but the ball caromed right back to Rogers, who made a great play whirling and firing a strike to Paredes to nail Fraley and end the inning.
Again, the Tigers couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the eighth. Soto settled in and set the Mariners down 1-2-3, and it was walkoff time. Until it wasn’t.
Miguel Cabrera singled to lead off the ninth. He was replaced by Eric Haase as pinch runner. Nomar Mazara struck out, and then Paredes stepped to the dish. For the second time in the game, the young third baseman hammered a ball deep, this time to left field. It cleared the wall, but Fraley made a brilliant play to haul it back in and take away a would-be walkoff homer. In the process, Haase had already taken off, trying to score if it was a double. Instead, he was doubled off to end the threat. Brutal. Not bad luck so much as great defense, but it hurt just the same.
Dang it Jake Fraley. Nice play, dude.
JAKE FRALEY ROBS A WALKOFF HOMERUN IN DETROIT AND DOUBLES HAASE OFF AT FIRST BASE TO SEND IT TO EXTRAS pic.twitter.com/JLrj4ZH77K— Ben Verlander (@Verly32) June 10, 2021
Jose Cisnero came on in the 10th and got one out before Crawford singled in the runner who started on second. We love these extra innings rules. Cisnero did get a double play ball to prevent any further trouble, and it was on the Tigers to come back in the bottom of the tenth. They managed to do so, but through no good works of their own. Paredes started on second, moved to third on a Goodrum ground out, and then scored on a wild pitch to knot things again at 4-4. Akil Baddoo briefly looked to have won the game pulling a fly ball just foul down the right field line, but he struck out to end the inning.
There isn’t much to say about the 11th. Daniel Norris came on, showed zero command of anything, and the Mariners just beat him up for five runs, four earned. It was pretty ugly. For every pitch Norris spotted, it seemed as though there were three that just went anywhere. At any point Norris could’ve limited the damage to one or two runs. Instead he just collapsed entirely, with consequences that were apparent in the bottom half of the inning.
The Tigers showed some fight in the bottom of the inning. Robbie Grossman turned on a Kenyon Middleton fastball and smoked it out to right field for a two-run shot to make it 9-6. Jonathan Schoop followed with a single, and things remained interesting for a bit with Eric Haase at the dish. Unfortunately he popped out, and that left it up to Nomar Mazara, who unsurprisingly popped out as well to end it.
Now the Tigers will have to take the series on Thursday afternoon with Tyler Alexander and a pretty spent bullpen tasked with beating southpaw Justus Sheffield.