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Tigers 4, Guardians 2: Good defense and timely hitting were a sight for sore eyes

A strong effort on offense and defense overcame some baserunning blunders as the Tigers put together a rare solid game at Progressive Field.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Guardians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers got their rookie starter, Alex Faedo, some early runs and responded to each push from Cleveland with good defense and some timely hits to split the two games in Cleveland with a 4-2 victory on Sunday afternoon.

For once, the Tigers got on board first in a game. Robbie Grossman got his 2021 on, drawing a leadoff walk and stealing second base to lead off the inning. Willi Castro moved him to third on a ground out, but Miguel Cabrera drilled a line drive RBI double to left, and the Tigers led 1-0.

However, Alex Faedo was as wild as Shane Bieber was early on, and gave the run right back. Jose Ramirez drew a leadoff walk, and after Owen Miller singled, Faedo walked Josh Naylor as well to load the bases. Chris Fetter came out to tell Faedo to spam sliders until he got his fastball dialed in, and Faedo responded with three straight breakers that sent Franmil Reyes back to the dugout in shame. Andres Gimenez flew out, and disaster was averted. That turned out to be the most crucial point in the game, as the Tigers stayed just ahead of Cleveland all afternoon.

The Tigers got back at it in the second inning, but the first of a couple of baserunning blunders snuffed a rally. Jonathan Schoop walked with one out, and as Tucker Barnhart struck out, Schoop stole second base. Daz Cameron lined a single to center, and the Tigers led 2-1. Unfortunately, Cameron was trying to get a huge secondary lead for some reason, and was quickly backpicked by Austin Hedges to end the inning.

Faedo allowed a Steven Kwan single to start the bottom of the second, but he was quickly erased as the Tigers continue to turn double plays left and right. Hedges was the victim here, grounding into a 5-4-3, and Myles Straw grounded out to Torkelson at first to end the inning.

Grossman led off the third with a double into the right field corner. However, Willi Castro drilled a ground ball behind Grossman to shortstop and Gimenez threw to third to get the lead runner. Miguel Cabrera then lined out to Gimenez and he picked off Castro who had strayed too far from first. Grossman made a defensible call to advance to third, but Castro was leaning too far and deserved to be a dead duck. Aggression good, foolishness bad.

Faedo tossed a snappy third inning with three quick outs, but the Tigers went quietly in the top of the fourth as well. Josh Naylor opened the bottom of the fourth with a nice piece of hitting, getting ahead 3-1 and going after a well located fastball down and away in the corner. He drilled that for a solo shot to center to tie things up again. Faedo, continuing to show good composure for a rookie, admittedly an older rookie, shook it off and quickly retired the next three hitters, including a strikeout of Gimenez.

And once again the Tigers’ offense responded. Tucker Barnhart and Cameron singled with one out in the top of the fifth, and Grossman hit one to Naylor at first and he couldn’t handle it, allowing Barnhart to score from second base. 3-2 Tigers.

The Guardians looked to turn things right back around, but an outstanding play by Daz Cameron snuffed their attempt. Austin Hedges singled to start the bottom of the fifth, and Straw flew out to Cameron in center. The next hitter, Amed Rosario hit a would-be home run ball to right center field, but Cameron timed it up perfectly, leaping to pull it back over the way and quickly firing it in to Schoop, who doubled up Hedges at first to end the inning.

Faedo’s outing ended in the sixth after Ramirez flew out sharply to Grossman in right field. Miller lined a single to left, and A.J. Hinch decided to go to Andrew Chafin. The lefty carved up Josh Naylor and got Reyes on a fly ball to the warning track in right field.

Faedo’s start ended with 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 2 SO. We’re still not seeing the whiffs, but Faedo did make some big pitches when he had too, turning to his slider heavily whenever there was trouble. The Tigers turned three double plays behind him as the middle infield continues to excel there as expected...defensively at least.

Schoop singled to lead off the seventh, but the Tigers couldn’t advance him, though Cameron did drill his third line drive of the day, which was good to see, however it was right to Steven Kwan in right field.

Chafin hit Gimenez to start the bottom of the inning, but again the Tigers turned a slick double play as Kwan grounded to Schoop for the 4-6-3. Alex Lange took over at that point and punched out Hedges to end the seventh.

The Tigers got a little insurance in the top of the eighth as Javier Báez hammered a solo shot to center field with two outs to make it 4-2. Lange walked Jose Ramirez, which is frankly understandable, with two out in the bottom of the eighth, but punched out Miller for his third strikeout in five batters to end the frame.

The Tigers didn’t get anything going in the top of the ninth, and so that left it all in the hands of Gregory Soto with a 4-2 lead. It didn’t start off well as Soto hit Josh Naylor with an 0-2 pitch. That led to a scary moment when Reyes smoked a drive to the warning track in right center field that Cameron hauled in on the run. Fittingly, Gimenez then grounded into the Guardians fifth double play of the game as Schoop picked a grounder and tossed to Báez who fired to first to end the game.

The victory re-opened a one game lead for the Tigers in their long-running historical rivalry with Cleveland.


The Tigers fly out of Cleveland to Minnesota tonight for three with the Twins before heading home to play the Guardians and the Twins again in consecutive home series. They added Eduardo Rodriguez to the 15-day injured list to recall RHP Elvin Rodriguez to start on Monday in Minnesota.

In more injury/illness news, Tarik Skubal appears to be ok and will make his next start. However, Austin Meadows remains in bad shape, and this tweet has us rather concerned about his health more than his return to the Tigers’ lineup.