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Tigers swept in Seattle doubleheader

Spencer Torkelson homered in both games, and that’s largely all we care about. Plus Kody Clemens mashed a grand slam.

Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners - Game Two Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

After going on a nice little tear down the stretch, the Tigers finally stumbled, losing both games of this doubleheader to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. The news that mattered was a really big day for Spencer Torkelson, in particular. He went yard deep once in both games, going 5-for-9 on the night.

Mariners 7, Tigers 6 (F/10)

The Tigers came into Game 1 looking to continue their late season tear. They got a decent start out of Eduardo Rodriguez, but against a team largely focused on finishing the season without any further injuries, Tigers pitching was rather leaky in this one. They ultimately fell in 10 innings by a score of 7-6.

Rodriguez and Mariners’ starter Chris Flexen each came out looking solid. Both pitchers cruised through a snappy first inning, and then pitched through a little traffic in the second inning. The Tigers got a walk to Miguel Cabrera, and then a two out swinging bunt style single to third from Jeimer Candelario. Spencer Torkelson hit the ball hard, but shortstop J.P. Crawford made the play to get him at first and end the inning. Rodriguez was charged for an error on a ball off the bat of Jarred Kelenic with two outs in the bottom half of the second, but Abraham Toro flew out before any real threat materialized.

Victor Reyes was set to have a day, and led off the third with a line drive double to center field. After Akil Baddoo popped up, Riley Greene drilled a double to right field and Reyes scored easily to give Detroit the early lead. A wild pitch from Flexen moved Greene to third with just one out, but neither Javier Báez nor Harold Castro could drive him in.

Things flipped pretty quickly in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Curt Casali turned on a well located fastball on the inner edge and drilled a surprising solo shot to left to tie things up. Rodriguez walked Crawford, struck out Ty France, and then gave up a big fly off the bat of Mitch Haniger to center field that made it 3-1, Mariners.

This was sort of the quintessential Eduardo Rodriguez 2022 start. He pitched very well most of the night, but melted down and was hit hard in one inning before settling down again.

The Tigers’ offense would swing the pendulum back the other way quite quickly. A two out single from Candelario on a comebacker that Flexen deflected set the table. Spencer Torkelson then proceeded to eat with a deep drive to left field that tied the game.

The first baseman’s seventh home run of the season was a majestic shot, and certainly something we expected to see much more of in his rookie campaign.

Akil Baddoo led off the fifth with an opposite field double against new pitcher Matthew Festa, but was stranded. Rodriguez got into a jam in the bottom of the sixth when he allowed a two out single to Carlos Santana and then hit Kelenic. That brought a visit from Chris Fetter before Rodriguez struck out Toro to end the inning.

The tide seemed to finally turn the Tigers way in the seventh. Torkelson led off with a single to left and Victor Reyes launched his third home run of the season, and second in as many days, to give the Tigers a two run lead.

Unfortunately, a usually rock solid Alex Lange took over in the bottom of the inning and promptly gave those runs right back. The right-hander came unglued with two outs, allowing two singles and a pair of walks before Andrew Chafin finally came on to shut the Mariners down.

Both teams got a single but no more in the eighth, with Kody Clemens pinch running after Cabrera’s one out single. Miguel Diaz took over in the bottom half and kept things knotted at 5-5, sending us to the ninth with the game on the line.

The Tigers went quickly, and so did the Mariners after a leadoff single led to a stolen base attempt. Dylan Moore, pinch running for France, was gunned down by Eric Haase trying to take second, and the Mariners went quickly from there to send us to extra innings. Not ideal in Game 1 of a back-to-back doubleheader.

With Reyes starting the inning on second, catcher Luis Torrens took over in the 10th for Seattle. Throwing lollypops up there with the Mariners unwilling to tax their pen in a meaningless game, the catcher would eventually outduel the Tigers’ closer, which I’m told is very not good.

A pair of fly balls from Baddoo and Greene moved Reyes to third and then scored him. Báez extended the inning, reaching on an error on Toro, and Harold Castro then followed him with a soft serve single to set up Kody Clemens, but the young infielder flew out to right field.

Scoring one in extra innings just isn’t enough, and the Mariners quickly illustrated the point against Gregory Soto. With Eugenio Suarez on second to start the inning, Carlos Santana and Jarred Kelenic spanked back-to-back singles on ground balls through the infield. The first scored Suarez, the second allowed Santana to go first to third, where Toro’s fly ball to center field was plenty deep enough to allow Santana to tag and score from third in walkoff fashion.

Mariners 9, Tigers 6

It was the Tigers’ turn to piece together innings out of their bullpen in Game 2. Things did not go according to plan. Will Vest was supposed to be the opener, getting through the top half of the Mariners lineup before turning it over to Elvin Rodriguez, who was recalled to pitch in this one. Instead, Vest couldn’t get out of the first inning, issuing two walks and allowing a run before Rodriguez came out to get the Tigers out of trouble.

The Tigers took advantage a pair of walks to Baddoo and Reyes in the third inning to tie things up. Torkelson singled to right to load the bases, but both runners held up too long making sure the ball would drop. As a result they’d only score one on a Candelario sacrifice fly, tying things 1-1.

Rodriguez got into a lot of trouble in a long bottom of the third, eventually giving up one run on a Dylan Moore single before getting Adam Frazier to fly out to end the inning. 2-1, Mariners.

Seattle came back for two more against Rodriguez in the fourth courtesy of a two-run shot from Abraham Toro. The right-hander was able to clean things up from there against the heart of the Mariners’ order. He got presumed AL Rookie of the Year, Julio Rodriguez, on a ground out and then punched out Kelenic and Suarez to end the inning.

The Tigers finally punched back with a huge fifth inning, mostly courtesy of Kody Clemens. With one out, Torkelson ripped a single to left against Justus Sheffield. Candelario followed with a line drive single of his own, and Jonathan Schoop pulled a grounder through the left side of the infield to load the bases.

Young Mr. Clemens then went boom, getting a breaking ball from the southpaw that just stayed up and cranking it out to right field for a grand slam. 5-4, Tigers.

Brendon Davis followed with a solid single into left field for his first major league hit. Barnhart lifted a fly ball down the right field line that was caught for an out, but Ryan Kreidler beat out a ground ball single to keep the inning alive. Baddoo grounded out to first to end the inning, but the Tigers had the lead. However, it didn’t last long.

Rodriguez struck out Santana to open the bottom half of the fifth, but Cal Raleigh tied the game with a solo shot to right field. Dylan Moore walked as Rodriguez’s pitch count topped 80 pitches with only 10 outs recorded. Chris Fetter came out to try and settle him down enough to get the Tigers through the inning. It didn’t do much good as Rodriguez allowed an Adam Frazier single and then walked Torrens to load the bases with one out. That was the end of his night. Garrett Hill came on, allowing a little flare off the label from Toro that dropped in right for a two run single before striking out Julio Rodriguez and getting Kelenic on a line out to finally end the inning. 7-5, Mariners.

The Tigers got a run back in the top of the sixth courtesy of another towering shot to left from Spencer Torkelson. Seeing him turn and launch a pair of pitches on the inner edge to the pull field was a real sight for sore eyes. This one off of reliever Penn Murfee was actually off the plate inside but Tork was still able to lean back and mash without hooking it.

The back and forth continued as Mariners came right back against Hill, loading the bases with no outs on three straight singles. The last of those went to Davis, with the infielder playing right field. Initially, it appeared he’d caught a sinking drive from Raleigh, but upon review, it was confirmed that Davis had trapped it, and everyone was safe. Hill promptly drilled Moore on the hand, but fortunately he appeared to be alright. Hate to see that just before the playoffs especially. That made it 8-6 Seattle, and Carlos Santana would tag and score from third on a Frazier fly ball to left before Hill could finally extricate himself and finish the inning. 9-6 Mariners.

The Tigers went quickly in the top of the seventh, and Daniel Norris had no trouble with the heart of the Mariners order in the bottom half of the inning, striking out Suarez to end it. The game continued picking up pace as the Tigers went 1-2-3 in the eighth, and Norris and his new, longer arm action carved through the Mariners, striking out the side with swinging strikes over the changeup. That was interesting.

Anyway, it was last call, and Torkelson, Candelario, and Schoop went 1-2-3 against Diego Castillo to drop Game 2.

The final game of the 2022 season will feature LHP Tyler Alexander (4-11, 4.72 ERA) vs. LHP Marco Gonzalez (10-15, 4.14 ERA) at 4:30 p.m. EDT.

News and notes

In case you somehow didn’t find out already, New York Yankees star Aaron Judge broke his tie with Roger Maris on Tuesday, launching home run number 62 to establish a new American League single season home run record. Congratulations to him. Luiz Arraez of the Minnesota Twins seems to have the batting title on lock, so there will be no Triple Crown, but still a pretty cool accomplishment for one of the more likable Yankees in memory.

In other news, the Atlanta Braves late season charge was completed on Tuesday night as they wrapped up the NL East. The New York Mets, who led the division coming down the stretch, will now settle for a wild card slot and face the San Diego Padres in round one.

Finally, Justin Verlander appears ready for the postseason. The longtime Tigers ace is having an absolutely bonkers season at 39 after Tommy John surgery, and the calf strain he suffered at the beginning of the month appears fully resolved. He no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies for five innings, striking out 10 along the way. Unreal.

The man should be a lock for the AL Cy Young. Not too often you’ll see a starter pulled from three no-hit attempts in a six start span, but JV has bigger fish to fry in October.