The Los Angeles Dodgers swung for the fences Friday night and two early home runs proved to be enough to overcome a Detroit Tigers team that couldn’t get much of anything going on the West Coast. The Game 1 loss brings the Tigers down to 6-13 on the year and is now the sixth in a row for Detroit.
The Dodgers didn’t take much time to get the party going against the Tigers. Tyler Alexander was on the bump for the Tigers and struggled with his command once again. Freddie Freeman worked the first 3-2 count of the night into a walk and promptly stole his second bag of the season. Trea Turner ripped a ball to deep left field that had everyone in Chavez Ravine convinced it would leave the park, but Robbie Grossman settled under it for out No. 2 of the inning. The next fly ball to left field wouldn’t find Grossman’s glove, though. Justin Turner launched his first home run of the year and gave L.A. a 2-0 lead in the opening frame.
Chris Taylor hit the second Dodger homer of the night in the second inning—a no-doubter that landed a few rows back of Turner’s in left.
Detroit struck back in the third thanks to a Javy Baez single to centerfield. Tucker Barnhardt scored the run after reaching on a one-out single and being moved over by a Derek Hill bunt up the right side of the infield. For a second, it looked like Hill was also going to be safe as the ball ricocheted off his elbow and headed into shallow right field. The umpires called the play dead, though, and deemed Hill out because he was too far inside the base path and could have avoided the throw. Grossman did wind up on base in the inning, but Miguel Cabrera couldn’t bring him around.
Alexander was unable to build on what the offense put together and led off the third inning by walking Mookie Betts. If Freeman is swiping bags on the Tigers, giving Betts a free pass is a license to take extra bases. Betts didn’t take second, but he did go first to third on a Freeman single to right. Trea Turner brought him home easily in the next at-bat on a sacrifice fly to Austin Meadows. That would be the end of the road for Alexander, who has now failed to pitch into the fourth in each of his last three starts.
Willy Peralta came in with a 0.00 ERA through five innings of work in as many appearances. It looked like he'd allow his first run of the season on a deep fly ball to left from Max Muncy, but Grossman had just enough room on the warning track to get under it. Peralta’s personal luck kept up in the fourth as the Dodgers scored their fifth run on a fielding error from Javy Baez, keeping his flawless ERA intact. Candelario might actually have been to blame for the defensive gaffe as he tried to step in front of Baez to snag it early. His glove came up with nothing but dust though, and Baez couldn’t adjust to the ball dribbling between his feet. 5-1 Dodgers.
Next up on the mound for the Olde English D was Will Vest, who actually managed the first 1-2-3 inning of the night for Detroit in the fifth. Unlike the two pitchers before him, Vest held his lead-off baserunner in the sixth by striking out Cody Bellinger, Taylor and Gavin Lux consecutively. The rest of the game seemed like a formality with the occasional Detroit hit that never had a chance at materializing into anything real.
There’s little room to argue against Vest being the best Tiger of the evening, at least from a pitching standpoint. Alexander couldn’t locate much in the right spot and paid for it with the two long balls, Peralta was lucky and Alex Lange was wild in the seventh. Andrew Chafin does get some props for handling the eighth without issue, especially after an ugly debut against the Twins on Wednesday that featured two doubles and a run.
Offensively, the Tigers couldn’t do jack against Tyler Anderson or the bullpen. Their futility was perhaps best represented in the fifth inning, when Tucker Barnhart led off with a single, and for the second straight day Derek Hill lined into an unassisted double play at first. A six-game skid is bad enough, but there’s little hope for Detroit to salvage a win in this series with the way they are hitting and Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler ahead. Six hits and a walk should translate to more than just one run, but the team isn’t hitting well with runners on or with much power. That 13-run outburst against the Rockies doesn’t even feel like it really happened at this point.
The bullpen continues to be the best thing about this Tigers team early in the season, but that doesn’t count for much when the starters can’t get a lead or keep the game within reach. Beau Brieske will get his shot at keeping one of the best lineups in baseball at bay on Saturday. Good luck, kid.