This was a long, strange, eventful night in Camden Yards. Initially the game was delayed about two hours for an absolute deluge that had both dugouts flooded and the beat writers posting ominous pictures of the murky skies. When things finally got underway, the game moved pretty briskly until a scary moment for the Tigers in the eighth inning, but we’ll get to all that. In the end, the Tigers bullpen was rock solid once again, and the offense had a strong night to power them to a 9-4 win.
Orioles starter Keegan Akin’s game plan against the Tigers looked similar to their last meet-up. The lefty mixed in all his pitches, trying to be as unpredictable as possible before leaning on his changeup when ahead. It worked for him in the first inning, but things unraveled quickly in the second. Niko Goodrum battled him for a two-out walk, and Willi Castro followed with a double high off the wall in right field. Goodrum scored all the way from first. Good to see those two producing, though their problems largely reside in their work hitting lefty. Akil Baddoo then showed a good approach against Akin, taking a fastball away and lining it the opposite way into the left field corner for an RBI triple.
The Tigers really bit the O’s in the third. Robbie Grossman led off by pulling a ground ball single through the left side. Jonathan Schoop rifled a double up the right center field gap to score Grossman, and Miguel Cabrera followed with a single for hit number 2947. The rally looked to be dying out as Jeimer Candelario and Eric Haase struck out, but Goodrum came through with a line drive single to score Schoop. Willi Castro followed with a screaming drive to right than went for a triple as Cabrera and Goodrum scored. Just like that it was 6-1 Tigers.
On the pitching side of things, Casey Mize had things under control early, despite not actually looking that great. His command was fine, but the fastball is down to 92-93 mph now and we’re not seeing much more.
Mize cruised through the first, picking up a strikeout along the way. In the second, Anthony Santander led off and gave Mize a good battle, fouling off several pitches before going down to get a pretty good slider below the strike zone. Santander drove the pitch out to right for a solo shot. Austin Hays followed with a single, but Mize ramped up to punch out DJ Stewart and Maikel Franco, while Hays was cut down trying to steal by Eric Haase.
Mize also managed to keep the Orioles off the board in the third after the Tigers’ big inning. It wasn’t pretty though and he looked to be coming unraveled. At one point, Mize threw a knuckle curve to the backstop on a hot, humid night in Baltimore. That was part of a four pitch walk to Cedric Mullins. Mize then hit Ramon Urias with a running twoseamer. He did get Trey Mancini to bounce out to third to end the threat.
However, after a quick half inning for the Tigers against reliever Marcos Diplan, Mize came back out in the bottom of the fourth and Santander got him again, drilling a sinker to left-center for his second solo shot on the night. Mize bounced back to punch out Hays, but then he grooved another limp fastball to Stewart who pounded it out to right field for the Orioles third solo home run on the night.
Three home runs is a bad night for any pitcher, and Mize’s stuff just looked flat in general. Perhaps it was the humidity, as his spin rates were down, and his command wasn’t nearly as good as it usually is. Fortunately, the homers came at the right times, with no one on base.
Mize wouldn’t last much longer. He got the first out in the fifth, but allowed a double to Mullins and then wild pitched him to third. The next hitter, Urias, bounced one back to Mize and he checked the runner at third, and then threw the ball away, allowing Mullins to score. That was enough for AJ Hinch. Kyle Funkhouser came on and quickly snuffed the O’s hopes for a rally.
From there, the Tigers bullpen did Tigers bullpen things. Funkhouser handled the sixth with no issue, and Jose Cisnero cruised through the seventh. In the top of the eighth, Cabrera led off with a walk and Candelario followed with a nice piece of hitting, pulling his hands in on an cutter inside and lofting it just over the wall in right for a two-run shot, his eighth of the year.
Michael Fulmer came on for the eighth, showing off just how deep in good arms this pen is with his return. He walked the leadoff man, but settled in to strike out Mancini with heavy doses of really hard sliders again, touching 94 mph with the pitch. Fulmer got ahead of the next hitter, Santander, 0-2, but Santander got a mistake fastball and drove it to the warning track in left center field.
Akil Baddoo and Derek Hill in center were about equidistant from the landing spot, and both were running full speed to get to the sinking drive. Somehow, Hill caught it and held on as the two fastest Tigers ran smack into each other. Hill turned a little right before impact, appearing to catch Baddoo hard with his left shoulder. Hill managed to throw the ball in before he and Baddoo collapsed into a heap for a couple of long minutes as the Tigers training staff and Hinch ran out there to check on them. It was one of the worst collisions you’ll see, but both players appeared ok in the joints. Either or both could have a concussion, however, so we’ll have to see how things turn out tomorrow.
Derek Hill ran down Anthony Santander's drive to left-center at a sprint speed of 28.3 feet/second. He collided with LF Akil Baddoo, who was chasing the ball at 28.5 ft/sec. Scary, scary collision. No idea how Hill held onto that ball. pic.twitter.com/O7fs3xSzyk— Jason Beck (@beckjason) August 11, 2021
The Tigers had already inserted Victor Reyes in at the DH slot to pinch run for Cabrera in the top half of the frame. As a result, Grayson Greiner came into catch mid-inning, while Haase moved to left field, and Goodrum took over in center field, with Harold Castro replacing him.
The top of the ninth wasn’t scary though, as the Tigers tacked on another run. Grayson Greiner doubled with one out, and Grossman and Schoop followed with singles. With Greiner already in, Victor Reyes struck out, and the threat ended with Candelario lining out to shortstop.
After all that, some five hours after the game was originally scheduled, the Tigers entered the ninth with a five run lead. Hinch, trying to save Gregory Soto, turned to Buck Farmer for the final three outs. Farmer promptly allowed a single to Franco and a double to Jorge Mateo, putting runners at second and third. Farmer struck out Austin Wynns, but Hinch had had enough with the top of the lineup coming up. He turned to Soto to face Cedric Mullins.
Soto punched out Mullins after a little battle, and then got Urias to ground out and end the game. It was a wild night, and hopefully the Tigers aren’t down an outfielder or two going forward, but all in all it was a pretty complete performance other than a shaky outing for Mize.
It’ll be Tarik Skubal looking for a series win on Wednesday night against the Orioles’ Matt Harvey, who dominated the Tigers just two starts ago.