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Cleveland 11, Tigers 0: Hittin’ Harold halts history

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Tigers fans hoped that Miguel Cabrera would make history this afternoon, but Cleveland pitcher Triston McKenzie nearly made history of his own.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, what a beautiful day. A Sunday in the middle of August, sunny skies and temperatures sitting in the mid-to-upper-70s, and Comerica Park is packed to the brim for the rubber match in this Tigers-Cleveland series. What could possibly go wrong?

...

Oh.

Look, if you are the kind of person who watched and is now reading the recap of an 11-0 blowout, you probably need some positivity in your day. Let’s get the bad out of the way quickly, and then focus on the positive moments from today in Tigers baseball.

Let’s begin with the bad news, in no particular order. Obviously, Detroit lost, dropping them back to third place in the AL Central and four games below .500. Miguel Cabrera did not hit home run #500 (though if you have tickets to one of the games this week, I would call that good news!). Tigers starter Drew Hutchison, after spending three years in the minor leagues, was absolutely hammered by the Cleveland bats and did not make it past the second inning. (Remember when he started Opening Day for the 2015 Blue Jays and then won 13 games despite posting a 5.57 ERA that season? That team made it to the ALCS. Crazy times.)

Anything else? Oh, yeah, that’s right: Triston McKenzie, in the midst of a sophomore slump season, very nearly threw a perfect game against Detroit. He retired 23 straight batters before Hittin’ Harold Castro™ saved the Tigers from being on the wrong end of history. Who said the clutch gene does not exist?

That about covers it. Cleveland scored six runs in the second inning, added five more runs in the third, and Triston McKenzie nearly made this an infamous day in Detroit sports history. We have already honored Hittin’ Harold’s heroic effort to make this game merely forgettable, but Derek Holland, Erasmo Ramirez, and Joe Jimenez — who combined for six scoreless innings, no walks, seven strikeouts, and four hits allowed — also did their part in mitigating just how bad this game was. At least Cleveland didn’t continue their 1st-3rd inning pace and win 33-0, right guys?

There isn’t much more to say about the game itself, but there were a couple of noteworthy moments from today’s broadcast. Detroit Lions legend and recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Calvin Johnson threw out the first pitch of today’s game and joined the broadcast booth for an interview in the third inning. As I mentioned, Cleveland plated five runs in the third, so this turned out to be a pretty long interview! With the Tigers going down double digits and Johnson being a former Detroit Lion, it goes without saying that losing in sports was a central topic of this interview. Matt Shepard and Kirk Gibson compared the Tigers score to the Lions being down 28-0 or 35-0, and Shepard joked that Johnson “must be used to it.” Ouch.

Not much later, Johnson stated that he, as well as his former teammates Cliff Avril and Gosder Cherilus, contemplated quitting football after going 0-16 in 2008. Johnson discussed how as an NFL player, you go out there to win, and the goal shouldn’t be just to win a single game; it should be to win a title! Wait a minute. Why did this guy retire early, again?

At one point during the broadcast, Kirk Gibson tried to draw a hit into the hits column on the jumbotron using his teleprompter. Candelario hit a fly-out immediately after, and Renato Nunez grounded out sharply on the pitch after. While Harold Castro was batting, Gibby decided to try his luck again, saying Harold was going to get a hit in the at-bat. He flew out the pitch after. So it goes. (Hey, if he had said that Harold was going to end the perfect game bid, he would have been right on the money!) Not soon after, Gibson gave Matt Shepard a jar of maple syrup, an undersized t-shirt, and a single razor blade for his birthday. I am not making that up.

Anywho, my condolences to everybody who went out to the game and who tuned in today, as this was a poorly timed bump in the Tigers road to hitting .500. Detroit has the day off tomorrow before the young trio of Mize, Skubal, and Manning take on the Angels this week at Comerica. See you at the ballpark for #500!

They Gotta Get Hutchy Going

OH ARE YOU KIDDING ME