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Tigers 4, Twins 2 (F/10): No easy wins

Harold Castro homered twice, but it was Candelario’s 10th inning blast that brought the Tigers a victory.

MLB: 2022 Detroit Media Day USA TODAY NETWORK

A hard fought and truly frustrating game finally broke the Tigers way late as Jeimer Candelario pumped a two-run shot in the 10th inning to carry them to a 4-2 victory.

Tigers short starter, Rony Garcia, lived dangerously in the early innings. A two-out double in the bottom of the first from Carlos Correa was followed by a walk to Max Kepler, while a wild pitch allowed Correa to take third. Garcia was able to get Gary Sanchez to roll over on a grounder for the final out of the inning. Both teams got a single in the second inning but couldn’t build a scoring threat.

In the top of the third, the Tigers finally managed a minor threat, but some aggressive baserunning by Derek Hill didn’t pay off. After Daz Cameron flew out, Hill chopped one to Carlos Correa at shortstop and Correa waited on it, forcing him to rush the throw, and he couldn’t get Hill, who proceeded to steal second base with Harold Castro up. Castro grounded out, Hill advancing to third, and then with Jonathan Schoop hitting, a passed ball on Gary Sanchez didn’t get too far away. Hill broke for home and tried a wild diving swim stroke to get around the tag, but was called out. A challenge by A.J. Hinch went nowhere despite slow motion replay showing no tag applied. No, no the Tigers can’t catch a break.

On the plus side, the Tigers appear to have something in Rony Garcia. He featured nasty horizontal movement on everything he threw and his command was reasonably solid overall. In the third, he got Buxton to ground out and then struck out Luis Arraez and Carlos Correa on swinging third strikes. He wasn’t terribly efficient, but the fastball-curveball combo tied the Twins in knots throughout his outing.

In the top of the fourth the Tigers continued their general inability to buy hits, as Schoop popped out to third, and Báez lined out to Urshela as well. Things were grim enough that Jeimer Candelario tried to bunt his way on, but eventually settled for a two-out walk. It was left to Spencer Torkelson and he completed the Urshela trifecta with a ground out to end the inning..

Garcia was at 58 pitches to open the fourth, but he was effective and A.J. Hinch is a desperate man these days. Garcia carved up Max Kepler for the first out, but then walked Sanchez. That brought up Trevor Larnach and in an 0-1 count, Garcia threw a heater down the middle and Larnach crushed it for a two run shot. 2-0 Twins. Urshela flew out and Garcia struck out Nick Gordon to end the inning but the damage was done. 4 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 SO, was Garcia’s final line, which is all you could really ask. A few less waste pitches and Garcia will stick around a while.

Willi Castro bunted his way on to start the fifth, but Eric Haase, Derek Hill, and Daz Cameron all went down on strikes. Hinch turned to Wily Peralta in the bottom half of the inning to face Gilbert Celestino, Buxton, and Arraez. Celestino flew out to center field, Buxton lined out on a running catch by Willi Castro in left, and Arraez grounded out to right field as Peralta had no trouble with the top Twins.

Finally in the top of the sixth, the Tigers got through to Bundy by turning to their most dependable source of power recently, Harold Castro. Playing shortstop while Báez DH’d, Castro centered a Bundy fastball and crushed it to right field for his second home run of the year. 2-1 Twins.

Jonathan Schoop struck out, but Báez reached on an Urshela error as they’d finally worn the third baseman down over the course of the first five innings. Bundy tied up Candelario and struck him out on a foul tip, and that left things up to Torkelson. Rocco Baldelli decided he’d gotten plenty out of Bundy and went to his bullpen to face the Tigers rookie first baseman. Griffin Jax came on, after falling behind 0-2, Torkelson fouled off several pitches and eventually drew a walk, but Willi Castro flew out to end the threat.

Wily Peralta pitched around a pair of singles in the bottom of the sixth. Derek Hill drew a one out walk in the top of the seventh, ending Jax outing. Baldelli turned to Joe Smith, who threw over to first approximately 10 times to keep Hill in place. That proved wise, as Daz Cameron grounded into an inning ending double play. .

Joe Jiménez continued his strong start the year by punching out the side with a quickness in the bottom half of the seventh.

Emilio Pagan took over for the Twins in the top of the eighth. Harold Castro then stepped to the plate to leadoff and absolutely crushed another deep drive into the upper deck in right field for his second long ball of the day. Seriously, this year is making no sense at all. Long live Harold Castro. 2-2 Tigers.

Jonathan Schoop grounded out, but Javy Báez walked—speaking of oddities—and Candelario struck out again. That left it up to Torkelson. He got an 0-1 cutter right over the middle, and as often has been the case, recognized the meatball but fouled it off and eventually grounded out to third.

Hey, tie ball game though. What’s gotten into Harold? Was it as simple as telling him, hey, every think about hitting more dingerz?

Hinch brought in Gregory Soto in the bottom of the eighth, sticking with his policy of matching up Soto against tough lefties where required, as opposed to using a strict closer role for anyone. Soto had two lefties, Arraez and Kepler, to face, with Correa in the middle. Arraez grounded out to first, while Correa and Max Kepler flew out to Hill in center field.

Now it was time for sweet, sweet runs as the Twins turned to lefty Caleb Thielbar. Willi Castro grounded out, but Eric Haase drew a walk to leave it up to Hill and then Cameron. Hill spanked a grounder through the right side of the infield, and suddenly things were interesting. Cameron laid off a few tough pitches and drew a walk to load the bases, and suddenly things were a little spicy.

As this point, it became obvious how badly the Tigers are grinding, as Hinch decided to lift Harold Castro, who as noted, had two home runs in this game, in favor of pinch-hitting Miguel Cabrera. Win or lose, this game would have Hinch’s fingerprints all over it.

At this point, Thielbar was all over the place and didn’t throw a single strike in the at-bat. Cabrera fouled off a pitch just above the zone for the second strike of the AB, and Thielbar missed way inside to make it a 3-2 count. Home plate umpire then gave Thielbar an inch or so below the zone on a fastball that didn’t miss by a lot, but was probably not a strike. Considering that Thielbar hadn’t shown a bit of precision to that point, it was pretty infuriating. Cabrera was raging, and the expletives flew wildly. And that was just me watching while waiting to leave work...

Jonathan Schoop popped out to right field, and we moved to the bottom of the ninth. Soto got Gary Sanchez to fly out as Willi Castro moved to shortstop, with Báez in the designated hitter spot, and Robbie Grossman took over in left field. Soto kept up his recent tally by hitting Kyle Garlick, and Hinch had seen enough, turning to Alex Lange instead. Lange struck out Urshela, but Nick Gordon singled to right and then took second on defensive indifference. So it was Lange vs. Gilberto Celestino and Lange won out, getting the center fielder to ground out to end the inning. It was time for extra innings.

Jonathan Schoop was the EIR—extra innings runner—on second base to start the top of the 10th. Trevor Megill took over from Thielbar, and Báez quickly struck out, but Jeimer Candelario came up big. He got a first pitch fastball down the middle and crushed it to straightaway center field just out of the reach of a leaping Celestino for his fourth home run of the year, and none bigger. 4-2 Tigers.

Spencer Torkelson and Willi Castro flew out, but the Tigers had a lead to hold in the bottom of the 10th. Michael Fulmer got the call as expected, and got a ground ball from Buxton to start the inning. Unfortunately, Willi Castro rushed and threw wide of first base and Buxton was safe. Celestino didn’t advance to third on the play, which helped as Fulmer allowed a single to center field from Arraez. Celestino couldn’t score and so the bases were loaded. A wild fastball inside from Fulmer appeared to have hit Correa in the hands, but instead had only hit the bat knob. Small mercies. Fulmer struck out Correa, and A.J. Hinch, managing in desperation mode, turned to Andrew Chafin with one out and Max Kepler at the dish.

Chafin threw five straight sliders to Kepler and got three whiffs to put him away. Gary Sanchez popped out into foul territory and Spencer Torkelson was able to haul it in near the wall to finally put this one to bed.

The victory snapped the Twins six-game winning streak. The Tigers could really use one of their own as the pitching staff continues to get the job done. They’ll look to make it two in a row with Tarik Skubal on the mound on Thursday night as they welcome in the Cleveland Guardians for a four-game set. Hopefully Skubal’s shin won’t give him any issues.

Notes

We need things to feel good about.

The YouTube exclusive broadcast was not too bad at all. Of course any relief from the Bally Sports Detroit edition is a blessing. However, we did not appreciate this one bit.