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Athletics 4, Tigers 1: Alex Faedo was good, but the offense struggled again

The rookie really looked impressive most of the evening, but in Game 2, the Tigers went back to struggling to string hits together.

MLB: Game Two-Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Things did not go so well in Game 2 of the doubleheader, as the offense reverted to light-hitting mode. However, Alex Faedo was really, really good in this one and didn’t deserve a loss as the A’s won 4-1.

The first look many Tigers fans got at Alex Faedo was in his major league debut last Wednesday in Houston. He did just fine in that one, but largely due to batted ball luck as he recorded just one strikeout. We got a much better look at what Faedo is capable of in this one.

The right-hander was still just 20 23 innings into his return from Tommy John when the day began, so it’s worth keeping in mind that he’s probably not at his best yet. However, he gave a lot better accounting of his weapons and his command in this start.

Faedo racked up a huge number of whiffs against the A’s in this one, 17 in total. In his first start, his arm slot was dropping just a bit, getting more run than ride on his four-seamer. Not so against the A’s as he sorted that out, got that riding life back, and drew four whiffs on the fastball. Most importantly, he commanded the heater well and showed solid velocity, averaging 92.8 mph on the four-seamer. As he builds up his arm we may see another tick added there, which would help him. Overall, the mechanical correction paid dividends on all his pitches, and there were some really good changeups to go with Faedo’s typically nasty slide piece.

Overall, the movement on everything was sharp, and Faedo displayed his ability to shape his slider, adding depth or sweep as he liked to break balls just out of the zone, or drop them right on the corner down and away from right-handed hitters. He racked up 10 whiffs on the slider, and three more on the changeup, which also looked the best we’ve seen it since his last full season in Erie back in 2019.

Faedo pretty well cruised through three innings. In the third, he did give up a one-out walk to Luis Barrera, who stole second and then took third on an errant throw from Eric Haase that tailed away from the bag. That would before a bit of a theme in this one, though Faedo struck out Cristian Pache and got Tony Kemp to ground out to keep the game scoreless at that point.

Haase singled with one out in the bottom half of the fourth, and after Robbie Grossman popped out, Austin Meadows was theoretically hit on the foot by an errant slider from Adrian Martinez. That put men on first and second with two outs. Unfortunately, Báez flailed wildly at back-to-back sliders a foot off the plate away and ultimately struck out to end the threat.

In the fourth, third baseman Sheldon Neuse singled to lead off the inning. He then stole second as another errant throw from Haase, who dropped his arm again and threw a tailing sinker in there, skipping under Báez’s glove into center field and allowing Neuse to take third as well. Jed Lowrie lifted a sacrifice fly, and it was 1-0 A’s.

Faedo immediately walked Seth Brown on four pitches, and then back-to-back singles from Ramon Laureano and Kevin Smith, the latter of which scored Murphy. Things looked shaky, but Faedo got Barrera to ground out to end the inning.

The Tigers went quietly in the bottom of the fourth, and couldn’t get more than a Willi Castro leadoff single in the fifth. Faedo struck out Pache and Neuse in the top of the fifth, pitching around a one-out Tony Kemp bunt single to conclude his second major league start in style.

Faedo finished with 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, and 7 SO. Apart from the fourth inning, where he surrendered both runs with a little assist from a poor throw from his catcher, Faedo was in control most of the outing and had the A’s badly off balance. It was a compelling performance that, along with two solid efforts from fellow rookie Beau Brieske, gives the Tigers a lot to think about as Matt Manning and then Casey Mize make their way back from injury.

Will Vest came on and struck out the side in the top of the sixth, taking over for Faedo, but again a leadoff single in the bottom half, this time from Austin Meadows, led nowhere.

Andrew Chafin allowed a leadoff single in the seventh to Smith, and he then stole second base. Barrera moved him to third with a ground out, and Pache ripped an RBI single to left to make it 3-0 A’s. Chafin then picked off Pache, and after a Tony Kemp single, punched out Neuse to avoid any further damage.

Once again, the Tigers got a man on in the seventh in the form of a one-out walk to Willi Castro, but couldn’t do anything with it. This story kept playing out over and over.

Rony Garcia took over in the top of the eighth and had no trouble, recording a pair of strikeouts before Seth Brown flew out to left. And once again, the Tigers got a one-out single from Austin Meadows, and Báez and Candelario hit the ball squarely but right at A’s defenders, with Candy’s lineout to Kemp at second ending the inning.

Alex Lange gave up a leadoff single to Laureano in the top of the ninth, and that came back to bite him. After a sacrifice bunt from Kevin Smith moved Laureano to second, Lange wild pitched him to third while facing Barrera, and then the A’s left fielder lifted a sacrifice fly that made it 4-0.

That left the Tigers with three outs to make something happen against A’s closer Lou Trivino. Miguel Cabrera did his part, lining one the opposite way for a leadoff single. Jonathan Schoop grounded out to third, but Willi Castro followed with a single the opposite way into left field. Spencer Torkelson fell behind, again recognizing a money pitch, a fastball middle-up and fouling it off, but was hit with a fastball to load the bases. Eric Haase was at the dish, and the remaining fans got real loud for a bit. Unfortunately, Haase struck out for the first out of the inning, whiffing on a 97 mph heater after seeing nothing but curveballs from Trivino.

Still, with only one out and the bases juiced, there was life. Right about then, Trivino lost his control, walking Robbie Grossman on four straight pitches to force in a run and make it 4-1 A’s. Derek Hill came on to run for Grossman, representing the tying run at first base. That left it up to Austin Meadows, who fouled off some good Trivino heaters, but eventually popped out to shortstop to end it.

Still, while they had their chances in this one, the Tigers’ hitters presumably came away feeling a little better after splitting the doubleheader. Both Schoop and Candelario, who have struggled mightily this season, had good days with three hits apiece over the two games. Hopefully, that bodes well for the future.

BYB’s 10th ranked Tigers prospect in the preseason, left-hander Joey Wentz, will make his major league debut on Wednesday night as the five-game set with the A’s continues. To open a spot for him, the Tigers have DFA’d Drew Hutchison. Victor Reyes will begin a rehab assignment with the Toledo Mud Hens starting on Tuesday night.