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Tigers 5, Rangers 3: Gregory Soto saves the day

The Tigers got a bunch of little tiny hits when they needed them the most.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The afternoon finale of a three-game series in Texas against the Rangers saw the Tigers win 5-3, and win the series two games to one. Gregory Soto came on with the bases loaded in the eighth and no one out, and got the six-out save to complete the game.

Casey Mize, whose last trip to the mound was abbreviated with an eye to limiting his innings this year, started for Detroit, and the plan was for another short outing for his last planned start before the All-Star Break. Coming into today’s start, from April 29 through July 2, he’d made 12 starts and averaged 5.9 innings, 2.0 earned runs, 4.6 hits, 1.7 walks and 5.1 strikeouts.

Taking the hill for the Rangers was 2021 All-Star Kyle Gibson, whose season so far has been sensational: 16 starts, 1.98 ERA, 1.035 WHIP, and a stingy seven home runs given up in 95 23 innings. Gibson, if you recall, was a long-time Minnesota Twin until the end of the 2019 season, then becoming a free agent and signing with Texas.

The Tigers got things going in the first: Akil Baddoo led off with a single, took second on a Jonathan Schoop groundout, and scored on a Robbie Grossman single.

Joey Gallo tied it up with a solo shot to lead off the second. John Hicks (more on him below) and Jonah Heim followed with singles, but Mize induced a double-play ground ball from David Dahl and Isiah Kiner-Falefa struck out. Kudos to Mize for settling down and getting out of the inning. By the end of the third, Mize had only thrown 35 pitches, mostly stress-free.

Jeimer Candelario hit a solo home run of his own in the top of the fourth.

Good to see him hit another home run, as it’s been a while: his previous dinger was on May 18 in Seattle.

Mize did indeed come out for the fourth, and Gallo struck again, for his 10th home run in his previous 28 at-bats. He hits ‘em long.

After hitting a one-out single in the fifth, Harold Castro tried to advance to third on a single to right by Jake “The Sarge” Rogers. Gallo’s got a cannon out there, and he gunned out Castro at third. Oh well, at least Rogers had the wherewithal to advance to second. Baddoo hit a chopper to third and beat the throw to first, with Rogers moving to third. However, Schoop grounded out and that was that.

Kyle Funkhouser relieved Mize in the fifth, and he shut down the Rangers’ 7-8-9 hitters on ten pitches. He carried on into the sixth, and with one out Zack Short raced out into shallow center to make an over-the-shoulder catch.

The next batter, Gallo, hit a line drive to Short’s left...

The Tigers had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, and Rogers at the plate; he walked to load the bases for Baddoo. Joely Rodriguez was summoned from the bullpen, and since Rodriguez is a lefty, Miguel Cabrera came in to pinch-hit for Baddoo. Cabrera hit a grounder up the middle, deflecting off Rodriguez’s glove into no-man’s-land on the infield grass and dirt; Cabrera beat the throw to first, scoring Short. Schoop blooped one to right; it bounced on the chalk line and Gallo couldn’t get to it, and Harold Castro scored.

Let me just take a second here to say how nice it is to be on this side of such a series of events. In my many years of Tiger fandom, it seems like Detroit is always on the receiving side of “death by papercuts.”

Anyway, Grossman was up with the bases still loaded and one out; with a full count, a low fastball forced in another run to make it 5-2. Eric Haase struck out, and Candelario, the ninth batter of the inning, also struck out. Three runs in the inning are nice, but man, you hate to leave the bases loaded.

“Everyday” Jose Cisnero came on in the bottom of the seventh, after Funkhouser threw two innings and only allowed one baserunner, via a walk. Cisnero allowed an infield single but otherwise, no other batter reached base.

Erasmo Ramirez started the eighth in relief of Cisnero, and he gave up a trio of singles to load the bases with none out; this unenviable situation was handed off to Gregory Soto. Adolis Garcia popped out to first on an infield fly, bringing up Gallo again, with the bases loaded this time. Gallo walked on a perfect 3-0 pitch on the edge of the strike zone, forcing in a run. That brought up Hicks, who struck out swinging on a high fastball. Heim followed Hicks and did the same.

After a top of the ninth in which the only Tiger baserunner came via Grossman’s third walk of the day, Soto stuck around to finish off the game. Andy Ibanez led off the bottom of the inning with a double, Kiner-Falefa lined out to second. Brock Holt fouled out to third, and Eli White struck out swinging for the ballgame.

The Tigers travel to Minnesota to start a four-game series on Thursday, which will take them to the All-Star Break. Keep that momentum rolling, fellas!

Ups and Downs

Here are the roster moves since last night’s game, in case you missed them or didn’t have a pencil and paper handy to keep track of all of them.

Everything Krol is new again, eh? (I’ll be here all week; try the fish.) This will be Krol’s first time on a major-league roster since a one-game stint with the Angels in 2018. He spent 2020 with the Nerds Herd, in a four-team independent league in the Chicago area.

Observations and Figures

  • In his first four games with the Rangers, ex-Tiger John Hicks accomplished a feat no other Ranger had done before him: hitting a home run in each of his first four games with the team.
  • Before building a dome, a day game in Texas during the summer would have been extremely unusual... not to mean extremely uncomfortable.
  • There have been two players in Major League history with the first name “Erasmo.” Both have had the last name “Ramirez.”
  • On this date in 1861, Nettie Stevens was born in Cavendish, Vermont. Stevens discovered that male and female “sex chromosomes” existed, giving a genetic basis for gender. Granted, it’s not just as simple as XX and XY in humans, but that’s a good starting point. And, I’m genuinely curious what people used to think determined gender before the discovery of these chromosomes.