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Tigers 6, Orioles 2: Series-Splittin’ with the Birds

Tyler Alexander looked shaky early, but he and the bullpen righted the ship.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The finale of a four-game series between Baltimore and Detroit saw a lockdown performance from the bullpen and some timely, workmanlike hitting, and a 6-2 victory secured a split of the quartet of contests. Today’s game wasn’t flashy, but it made you feel pretty satisfied afterwards — you know, like a good meatloaf dinner.

Spenser Watkins started for the O’s, and if that name sounds familiar, you probably follow Tiger prospects. Watkins made his fifth start of his major league career today, after being drafted by Detroit out of Western Oregon in the 30th round in 2014. He eventually made it up to Toledo for AAA stints in 2018 and 2019, but was cut loose by the Tiger organization in 2020. He made six AAA starts in Norfolk this year with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.102 WHIP, so he got the call-up, and here he is.

Tyler Alexander made the start for the Tigers, and his last outing on July 27 was his longest of the season. Problem was, it wasn’t that great — four innings, five earned runs. If you’ll recall, though, the Tigers came back to win that game with an Eric Haase home run in the 11th, and Daniel Norris got the save. Good times.

The Orioles and their righty-heavy lineup wasted no time teeing-off on Alexander; a first-pitch double was followed by a groundout, then another pair of doubles off the centrefield wall above Akil Baddoo’s glove. So, after six pitches it was 2-0 with a runner on second. The contact was hard, and it was clear that Alexander had to make some adjustments or else it’d be a mighty short day for him.

Watkins walked Robbie Grossman and Miguel Cabrera with two out in the first, and Jeimer Candelario singled off Trey Mancini’s glove at first base, scoring Grossman and moving Cabrera to third. Haase cleared the bases with a two-run double to centre, over Ryan McKenna’s head, putting the Tigers ahead 3-2.

It all begins at two, baby!

Alexander settled down nicely, though: his second inning featured three harmless flyouts, his third contained a walk which did no harm, and his fourth inning turned out pretty similar to his third. Whatever Chris Fetter whispered in his ear after the first inning seemed to do the trick, it appears. His final line: 4 innings, 2 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts.

Erasmo Ramirez came in for the fifth. I’m not sure why, but “Erasmo” strikes me as a name of an old-timey magician: “Erasmo the Amazing” or somesuch. Ramirez’s act today was that he got through the fifth in five pitches. Abracadabra! Also, Baddoo got a late jump but made a nifty catch in centre.

Gotta tip your cap to Watkins, though. Struggling for years in the minors, getting oh-so-close to the major leagues a couple of times, he considered quitting and actually had a coaching job lined up. But he decided to take one last stab at his dream, and here he is, up amongst the tall buildings. At one point he retired 14 Tigers in a row. Good on ya, Spenser.


You really can’t have enough reliable arms in a bullpen.

With one out in the sixth, Grossman roped a triple to the wall in right-centre, and Cabrera hit a foul sacrifice fly to right, scoring Grossman and making the score 4-2.

A Harold Castro double and a Grayson Greiner single to lead off the seventh put runners on the corners with none out. Baddoo punched a single through the left side (with two strikes on him, against lefty Keegan Akin) to score Castro, and Jonathan Schoop blooped a single into right to load the bases for Grossman with one out. Grossman swung on 3-0 and hit a relatively shallow fly ball to right; Greiner tested Anthony Santander’s arm in right and the throw was off-line for a 6-2 Tiger lead. That would bring up Cabrera with two outs and runners on first and second; Akin was dispatched in favour of Shaun Anderson, who walked Cabrera on a full-count pitch. Candelario stepped to the plate with two outs and bases loaded with a chance to make this one a laugher, but he fouled-out to first to end the inning.

José Cisnero pitched a solid seventh, and Michael Fulmer worked the eighth, giving up a single but stranding the runner. And since AJ Hinch doesn’t dilly-dally around, he brought in Gregory Soto to close it out with a four-run lead — which he did, throwing 101-mph seeds.

After an off day on Monday, the Boston Red Sox come to Detroit for a three-game series starting Tuesday night. The Red Sox have just fallen out of first place in the American League East, just behind Tampa Bay.

Overheard on the Radio Broadcast

Regarding the name of the Orioles’ DH, Ryan Mountcastle:

Jim Price: “When I hear the name ‘Mountcastle,’ I think about some old English guy. ‘Lord Mountcastle’ or something.”

Dan Dickerson: “You’ve got ideas, Jimmy. You should write a book.”

Old Friend Alert

Stats and Notes

  • Former Tiger second baseman Jake Wood is still playing competitive softball, in an 80-plus league. He noted about his league, “They’re testing major-leaguers to make sure they’re not taking extra stuff. In our league, they’re testing us to make sure we are!” Some gaudy stats from Wood’s rookie season in 1961: played all 162 games, stole 30 bases, and led the league with 14 triples. That’s a heck of a debut, on a dynamite Tigers team that I don’t think earns enough attention.
  • Coming into today’s game, lefties were hitting .191 with a .533 OPS against Tyler Alexander. Righties, by contrast, were hitting .314 with a .908 OPS. Ouch.
  • When I was looking up the stats on Alexander, Baseball-Reference came up with another player, the colourfully-named William “Steel Arm” Tyler came up in the search, who once played for the Detroit Stars. He mostly pitched, but spent some time in the outfield as well. Also, I love old-time baseball nicknames. Where’d they go? Save us, Oil Can Boyd!
  • Speaking of colourful names, on this day in 1744, Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck was born. His ideas about animal and plant evolution were eventually superseded by those of Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, but hey, you can’t blame a guy for trying.