After the drubbing the Tigers gave the Reds on Friday night, Cincinnati evened up the series and downed Detroit, 7-4.
Matthew Boyd got the start for the Tigers. Boyd, who has been coming back from an injury earlier this year, threw four decent innings (on 71 pitches) against the Blue Jays on August 29 in his last outing — so we weren’t expecting him to go too deep in this one.
Facing him for Cincinnati was Tyler Mahle (and the “e” is not silent; it rhymes with “valley”). Mahle’s in his fourth full season in the major leagues, and this is his best one so far, with a 3.64 ERA (and a 3.85 WHIP in the launching-pad of Great American Ballpark) and a very good WHIP of 1.180. While he has a bit of trouble with walks, giving up 3.0 per nine innings, his strikeout rate is a stellar 10.6 per nine... and we know the Tigers do enjoy a good swing-and-miss.
Things were pretty quiet until the third inning. A one-out double by Jonathan Schoop was followed by a Miguel Cabrera walk; after Jeimer Candelario struck out, Eric Haase hit a three-run tater to put the Tigers up 3-0.
However... the Reds decided to answer right back with five, count ‘em, five runs of their own: future Hall-of-Famer Joey Votto singled with runners on second and third with one out, Eugenio Suarez hit the always-exciting sacrifice fly (scoring Nick Castellanos; old friends alert!), then the colourfully-named Aristides Aquino hit a three-run dinger of his own to put the Weird Chilis up 5-3.
Boyd gave up a five-spot on a lot of pitches in the third, and he was due up third in the top of the fourth, he stayed in the game to hit and, darnit, he came through:
I know that, next year, pitchers probably won’t be hitting anymore, in either league. You’ve won, DH fans — I concede, you’ve won. I’m a purist, and I prefer to have nine guys in the field and the same nine guys at the plate. Baseball’s beauty, in part, lies in its geometric and numerical symmetries: three strikes, three outs. Three sets of three innings. Nine fielders, nine hitters. Simple, elegant, gorgeous.
See the sheer glee on Casey Mize’s face in the dugout as he applauds his fellow moundsman’s hit?
Do you want to take that away from Casey (and me)?
Do you? Really?
Fine, then, you killjoys. Have your “designated” hitter. Ruin the symmetry, the beauty, the simplicity of this most comely of pastimes. Enjoy all your 9-7 scores, you philistines.
...anyway, where was I? I blacked out for a minute there. Whoa.
In the top of the fifth, Schoop led off with a single, and Candelario walked with one out. With two out, Hittin’ Harold Castro loaded the bases with a single to left, and Dustin Garneau... well, no, he didn’t hit yet another home run, but he did draw a bases-loaded walk to close the lead to 5-4. Derek Hill followed with a single up the middle, but Jonathan India made a nice sliding stop at second base to throw out Hill and end the inning.
Alex Lange came into the game in the bottom of the fifth, and Boyd’s final line was four innings, seven hits, five earned runs, two walks, six whiffs. But hey, he only gave up one home run, so that’s progress, I suppose. Lange’s previous two outings have been two-inning affairs, and coming into tonight’s contest, since his recall on August 22, he’d thrown seven scoreless innings with opponents hitting .130 against him. Tonight he got some hitters, notably Kyle Farmer, to chase some high heat.
Mahle’s day was done after five innings, and Lucas Sims — one of the few who didn’t pitch in last night’s contest — took the mound. Sims’ strikeout rate is an eye-popping 14.1 per nine innings, and has been pretty unlucky otherwise (a 5.20 ERA but a 3.63 WHIP)... but with 4.5 walks per nine innings this year, that’ll contribute to your bad luck, for sure. Sims got the Tigers out 1-2-3, but Schoop’s lineout for the third out was a laser beam.
José Cisnero took over for the bottom of the sixth, and he gave up a dribbler of an infield single but otherwise got out of the inning unscathed.
When leading after seven innings, the Reds bullpen has blown enough leads so far this year — seven, coming into tonight’s game — that you had to feel like the Tigers weren’t out of this one entirely. But, Michael Lorenzen, who has done a bit of two-way playing himself during his career — set the Tigers down easily in the seventh.
Joe Jiménez came on in the seventh, and after getting a Castellanos flyout to start the inning, Votto and Suarez both walked on high-and-tight 3-2 sliders. Those walks would turn out to bite him, with Tyler Naquin pinch-hit-tripling them both in, pushing the lead up to 7-4, and that was it for Jiménez. Drew Carlton made his major-league debut (more below) in relief of Jiménez; on the first pitch he threw, Delino Deshields flew out to right, ending the inning. Pitching is easy!
Lorenzen carried on and pitched the eighth, and despite giving up a ground-rule double to Garneau, the Tigers got no closer to drawing even.
Carlton’s day was done after just the one pitch — not a bad introduction to the big leagues, really — and Miguel Del Pozo came in for the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Jonathan India doubled, but on the next pitch, Tyler Stephenson lined out to first base; Miguel Cabrera fired to second and caught India off second (after a review) for the ol’ 3-4 double play.
Mychal Givens, who had a rough outing on Friday night, came on for the ninth, so maybe there was a little hope after all. Robbie Grossman hit a leadoff single, and after Schoop struck out, Cabrera hit into a double play to end the game... and there went our hopes.
The rubber match of the series will start at 1:10 pm EDT.
Great Catch, Even Better Throw
In case you missed it, there was a fantastic throw made by a Blue Jays outfielder, and also a fantastic catch by a fan in one of the hotel rooms facing the field, Friday night. If you’ve ever been to that stadium, you know how high those windows are above the field, and this is a truly fantastic feat by both involved.
Amazing. Truly amazing.
Stats and Such
- Jeimer Candelario, through July 17: .261 average, .720 OPS. July 18 through yesterday: .313 average, .952 OPS.
- Lakeland won last night, 10-5, in a 7-inning game against the Clearwater Threshers, in the first game of a doubleheader. The Flying Tigers only got 3 hits in the game, but they walked 16 times. Sixteen! That box score is pretty unusual, for sure, and Carlos Mendoza got whatever the opposite of the Golden Sombrero is, walking four times. Andrew Baker walked all six batters he faced, and got tagged with the loss. You can’t make this up, folks.
- Drew Carlton was called up from Toledo earlier today. He was drafted in the 32nd round in 2017 out of Florida State, and he’s Lakeland born-and-raised. He had solid 2017 through 2019 seasons, steadily progressing through the minors, missed 2020 (didn’t we all?), and in Toledo so far this year he’s had a 3.12 ERA in 49 innings, mostly out of the bullpen. This year he’s had a walk rate of about 1.8 per 9 innings, with a little under a strikeout per inning. Welcome to the bigs, Drew.
- On this day in the year 476 CE, the Roman Empire was officially done, as the barbarian-soldier-statesman Odoacer politely told the last emperor, Romulus Agustulus, to hit the showers. Odoacer then proclaimed himself to be “King of Italy,” which must have felt pretty darn good for him.