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Twins 2, Tigers 0: Twin City Blues

It was the Sonny Gray show in Minnesota, as the Tigers’ bats couldn’t get anything started all night long.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

After a tough loss on Monday night in which the Tigers battled back to tie the game, only to lose it in the bottom of the ninth, Detroit meekly lost to the Twins in the second game of the series 2-0.

The pitching matchup featured Beau Brieske, making the sixth start of his major-league career, against Sonny Gray, the veteran in his tenth season, mostly with Oakland and Cincinnati.

Brieske’s last start, a week ago in Detroit against the Rays, did not go well. He struggled, giving up six runs in five innings — but he did pitch into the sixth, so that’s something, I suppose. Apparently he’s also working on a new grip for his slider.

Gray’s first four starts of the year were very limited in terms of innings: in three of them he didn’t get out of the fifth, and in another he didn’t get out of the second. His previous start before tonight, against Oakland, was vintage Gray: six innings, two runs, no walks, five strikeouts. Gray also likes to do a little Johnny Cueto impersonation, too, as he’ll occasionally throw a little hesitation into his motion. I don’t like that.

The Twins drew first blood on their first hit, in the bottom of the second: a walk to Max Kepler was followed one out later by a single off the bat of Gio Urshela. Kepler was running on the pitch and was rounding third when Willi Castro in left field threw... not to shortstop Javier Báez, but to second base. Báez appeared to be yelling to Castro to throw to second for some reason, so we’ll split the blame. Either way, Kepler scored easily.

The Tigers got a little something cooking in the top of the third: a Jonathan Schoop double, followed by a Miguel Cabrera walk, put two runners on with two outs. But then Báez struck out on a sweeping outside slider, and that was that.

Minnesota added-on in the bottom of the third, with a Luis Arraez single followed by a Carlos Correa double, making it a 2-0 game, which completed the evening’s scoring.

And then... Byron Buxton.

You gotta tip your cap to Buxton for that one.

Brieske got into more trouble in the bottom of the fourth, with an Urshela single followed by a Jose Miranda double ripped off the left-field wall with one out. But here’s another fine defensive play, this time turned by the Tigers’ centerfielder:

Brieske was done after four innings and 90 pitches: he gave up six hits and two runs (both earned), walked one and struck out three. Notably, he did not give up a home run, which is an improvement. Jason Foley, who’s been a valuable and effective inning-eater out of the bullpen, pitched the fifth. With one out, Luis Arraez singled off the wall in right and Carlos Correa walked, and then Gary Sánchez walked on a very borderline pitch that could’ve gone either way. Max Kepler, who hit a grand slam in last night’s game, came up with the bases loaded again... and flew out to short left field. Gilberto Celestino then grounded out softly to first to end the eventful inning without incident.

Jacob Barnes took over for Foley in the sixth, and despite a walk and a single, got a double play grounder and a nice sliding-stop play from Jeimer Candelario at third base. Meanwhile, Gray kept on cruising through the seventh, pitching off the fastball but mixing some really nice curveballs in, keeping Tiger hitters off-balance all evening and striking out ten.

Michael Fulmer pitched the bottom of the seventh, and at this point, knowing the Tigers have a bullpen day tomorrow, I’m just wondering, heck, could we please get two innings outta someone tonight?! Fulmer surprised a few people by busting out a whole bunch of nice curveballs, which he hasn’t thrown much since becoming a reliever, and in doing so he struck out the side.

Gray gave way to Tyler Duffey in the eighth, who made the Tigers look pretty foolish with all sorts of weird half-swings.

Drew Carlton — who, incidentally, grew up in Lakeland, Florida — made his second appearance for the Tigers this year in the bottom of the eighth. He got a couple of weak ground balls and a strikeout, needing eight pitches to do so.

Jhoan Duran pitched the ninth for the Twins, and his average fastball speed clocks-in a triple-digits (that’s 160 km/h to you and me). Nevertheless, Cabrera managed to fight a 102-mph fastball off and drive it into right field for a single to lead off the inning. Javier Báez flew out weakly, but with one out, Candelario’s forearm was grazed by a curveball to put two runners on. Candelario was lifted for pinch-runner Daz Cameron, but it was all for naught as Willi Castro grounded into a 6-3 double play.

Bring On the Robot Umps

Pitch #2, called strike against Miguel Cabrera in the first inning, courtesy of C.B. Bucknor. Hogwash, I say!

Always looking to outdo himself... I’ll let you guess which one of these red circles represents a pitch Robbie Grossman saw in the eighth for a called strike. Go ahead, guess.

(Hint: it was not #3.)

Next Up: Hats for bats. Keep bats warm.

In case you missed it, the Tigers recently burned a bit of palo santo wood in the clubhouse, which may (or may not) “kill negative energy.” Y’know what, at this point, go ahead, give it a whirl. It can’t hurt... although, I suppose if you’re not careful, you might burn the clubhouse down.

Notes and Observations

  • I’ve noted before that I was a little surprised Beau Brieske’s real first name is actually Beau. As it turns out, Sonny Gray’s real first name is... Sonny. Surprised by that too. Always assumed it was a nickname because he had the same name as his dad or something.
  • Matt Manning didn’t get out of the second inning today in his rehab start with Triple-A Toledo. Not great, Bob!
  • I noticed Derek Hill doesn’t wear a batting glove inside his fielding glove. Most people do. Neat.
  • The Tigers have had six walk-off losses in Minnesota since the start of the 2020 season, including last night. That blows my mind.
  • Robbie Grossman has really run hot-and-cold since mid-April. From April 21 through May 5, in 13 games and 52 plate appearances, Grossman’s slash line was .372/.462/.465 for an OPS of .927. But from May 6 through 23, in 16 games and 67 plate appearances, he’s slashed .088/.224/.105 for a pitcher-like OPS of .329. In the latter stretch, his BABIP was a measly .132.
  • Happy 203rd birthday to Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom, who was born on this day in 1819. As some of you might know, Victoria Day is a holiday celebrated all around the Commonwealth; in Canada, it’s always the Monday preceding May 24 (or on the actual 24th, if that’s a Monday). It’s also colloquially known as “May two-four,” as a “two-four” of beer is another name for a case of 24 beers.