The second half of a Saturday doubleheader between the Twins and Tigers ended in a sweep for Detroit, winning the second game 5-4 in eight innings. Miguel Cabrera hit a weird walk-off bloop single to centre, scoring Jonathan Schoop from first. If that sounds bizarre, well, I’ll get back to it, I promise.
It was going to be a bullpen game for the Tigers in this one, despite manager AJ Hinch also having to use the bullpen extensively earlier in the day. Tyler Alexander, a popular spot-starter ‘round these parts, got the nod for Detroit.
Facing him would be Kenta Maeda, whose season so far has been... I mean... okay, I guess? Fourteen starts, an ERA of 4.66, and a WHIP of 1.404. He doesn’t tend to go too deep in games, as in those 14 starts coming into today he only threw 67 2⁄3 innings. That’s a shade under 5 innings per start.
In the top of the first, Nelson Cruz doubled with two outs, and a Josh Donaldson single cashed him in. Whatever fountain of youth Cruz has found, I gotta get me some o’ that.
The Tigers answered back in the bottom of the second. Jeimer Candelario walked, and after a pair of flyouts, Zack Short singled and Derek Hill got hit. Akil Baddoo — who else? — cleared the bases with a triple to right-centre to make it 3-1.
If you enjoy numbers, you may enjoy this observation:
Tigers just scored more runs on one hit off Kenta Maeda (3) than they scored in their previous 17 innings against him combined (2). Akil Baddoo reached a sprint speed of 29.5 ft/sec on his bases-clearing triple. Tigers take 3-1 lead.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 17, 2021
To save you a trip to your calculator, 29.5 ft/s is the same as 8.99 m/s, 32.4 km/h, or roughly 54 000 furlongs/fornight.
Donaldson led off the top of the fourth with a solo home run to close the gap to 3-2. After a groundout, Alexander gave way to Erasmo Ramirez, who got out of the inning without any further damage.
In the fifth, the Twins tied it up with singles by Andrelton Simmons and Jorge Polanco, a walk to Trevor Larnach, and a Cruz infield single to second that Harold Castro might have had a play on, but he lost it in the transfer ‘twixt glove and hand. Before the walk, Jose Cisnero replaced Ramirez, so that run got charged to Ramirez. A slick double play got Cisnero out of further trouble.
Maeda, meanwhile, was doing pretty well — lots of splitters and sinkers, mixing a fastball in every now and again. After Baddoo’s triple, he set down the next 10 batters, and Maeda’s day was done after five innings.
In a generally puzzling move, Hinch brought in Derek Holland to start the sixth in a tie game. Does Hinch know something I don’t about Mr. Holland, of the 10.06 ERA? I know the Twins had a bunch of lefties coming up, starting with Alex Kirilloff... and, because Hinch is the manager and not me, naturally, Holland had a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout. His ERA is now in the single digits after that scoreless inning. Hooray!
(All kidding aside, holy moly, if Holland can be another reliable lefty out of that bullpen with Soto, Alexander, and maybe Norris, I’ll take him.)
Joe Jiménez started the top of the seventh, and his changeup looked great; a pair of ‘em got Polanco (who’d hit a home run off Jiménez earlier this season in Minnesota) and Trevor Larnach to both fly out harmlessly to centre, leaving the game at 3-3 going into the bottom of the seventh.
On the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh, Eric Haase got hit in the back of the head by Hansel Robles, who can (and did) throw triple-digit heat. Haase popped right back up, but Hinch and trainer Doug Teter were taking no chances, and Victor Reyes (see below) pinch-ran for Haase. Castro bunted Reyes over to second, but Short was frozen on a 99 mph fastball that found the bottom-outside corner of the strike zone. Hill followed by a liner that was hit just a little too hard to right, finding the glove of Larnach, and we’d be going to extras.
Jiménez carried on to the eighth, with Nick Gordon pinch-running and placed on second base with the dangerous Cruz leading off. Jiménez hit Cruz on an 0-2 pitch, which is not what you want to do. Donaldson struck out, and Jiménez got squeezed on a perfect 2-2 pitch on the corner of the strike zone that would’ve struck out Kirilloff looking. Instead, Kirilloff flew out to centre, advancing Gordon to third with two outs. Cruz took second without a throw, and a wild pitch got past Jake Rogers (who replaced Reyes, who ran for Haase). That scored Gordon, making it 4-3, with Cruz moving up to third. Ryan Jeffers struck out, ending the inning.
The speedy Hill started on second as the ghost runner, with Taylor Rogers now on the mound. Baddoo, leading off the bottom of the eighth, got completely hosed on a called strike three that was clearly outside the strike zone. Hill stole third, and Schoop punched a full-count pitch through the right side for a single to score Hill and tie the game back up at 4-4. Robbie Grossman then struck out... and I have to describe this very carefully.
On a 2-2 pitch with two out, Miguel Cabrera hit a shallow fly ball to centre. Schoop was running on the pitch, and the hit fell in between Andrelton Simmons and Gordon in centre. The two Twins were a little confused as to who’d pick up the ball, and as that was happening, Schoop was motoring around third. Gordon eventually picked up the ball and fired towards home, but the throw was way off, allowing Schoop to score. Tigers win!
Ain't no party like a Detroit party because a Detroit party don't stop! @MiguelCabrera gets the game-winning RBI, driving in Jonathan Schoop in the bottom of the 8th and giving the @tigers a doubleheader sweep! Phil Coke approves! #DetroitRoots pic.twitter.com/q1KCQJxEnH— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) July 18, 2021
I’ll take it!
Ups and Downs
Between the games of the doubleheader today...
The Tigers have made the following roster moves:— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) July 17, 2021
*Placed RHP José Ureña on the 10-day IL with a right groin strain
*Placed INF/OF Niko Goodrum on the 10-day IL, retroactive to July 15, with a left calf contusion
*Recalled RHP Alex Lange and OF Victor Reyes from Triple A Toledo
Numbers and Stuff
- With his triple in the second inning, Akil Baddoo re-took the American League lead in triples; this was his fifth on the season so far.
- One of the people with whom Baddoo was tied was Shohei Ohtani, becase of course he hits triples too. There isn’t much Ohtani can’t do. Can he wiggle his ears? Raise a single eyebrow? Juggle? Probably all three.
- Old friend Phil Coke was in the building tonight, as you can see. He was pretty amped-up, as one might expect.
- On this date in 1957, Wendy Freedman was born. (Yes, this is the second in a series of “Get to Know an Obscure Physicist.”) Freedman was one of the leaders of a team that found a good value for the Hubble Constant, which gives you an idea about how fast the universe is expanding, and thus how old the universe is. (Current estimates are around 13.8 billion years.)