Things did not go as planned in game one of this day-night doubleheader. Rony Garcia was greeted with a barrage of hits early in his start, and the Tigers lost 8-2. However, in the nightcap, they got a little payback, jumping on the Twins early and hanging on despite yet another pitcher injury, this time to starter Joey Wentz, who was making just his second major league start.
Twins 8, Tigers 2
Garcia racked up plenty of strikeouts in this outing, but seemingly everything that wasn’t a strikeout went for a hit over the first three innings. The first hitter of the game, Luis Arraez, singled to left. Byron Buxton popped out but Max Kepler slapped a ground ball through the right side of the infield. Garcia got Jorge Polance to ground out to first, but Trevor Larnach hammered a double off the top of the right center field wall, and Arraez and Kepler raced around to score. Gary Sanchez was Garcia’s first punchout of the day, and a 2-0 lead didn’t look too daunting.
The Tigers went quickly in the bottom of the first, unable to answer back, and Garcia pitched around a two out walk in the second, seeming to settle into his outing. Spencer Torkelson stayed hot, ripping a double off the tip of Gio Urshela’s glove at third base, but Eric Haase struck out to end the inning.
The top of the third is when the wheels came off for Garcia. Buxton singled to lead off, Kepler doubled him home, and Polanco followed with a single to move Kepler to third. Chris Fetter came out to settle Garcia down, and it briefly took as he punched out Larnach swinging over another filthy curveball, but it didn’t last. Eric Haase called for back-to-back curveballs against Gary Sanchez and Garcia dropped them both in the heart of the plate. The second one got launched to left center field for a three-run shot, and suddenly it was 6-0 Twins.
Garcia escaped without further trouble, but the Tigers went down in order in a seven pitch inning for Devin Smeltzer, playing the role of Bruce Chen, legendary soft-tossing southpaw Tiger Killer. Garcia got in a groove at this point with nothing to lose. He punched out Arraez and Buxton for a snappy fourth inning, and the Tigers did manage to get on the board.
A one-out single from Miguel Cabrera was followed by a Javy Báez double to right, and Cabrera scored on a Jeimer Candelario groundout. Not much more happened until the seventh. Drew Carlton took over in the sixth with a clean inning, but the Tigers went quickly in order as well.
In the top of the seventh, back-to-back errors on Báez and Schoop put two on, and after Buxton flew out, Carlton wild pitched both runners up a base. Max Kepler singled back through the box, both runners scored, and it was 8-1 Twins. At this point, the already meager crowd on a sweltering day in Detroit had seen enough of this, and abandoned the area.
Daz Cameron doubled home Eric Haase in the bottom half of the inning, but this one was a foregone conclusion. Báez and Torkelson each singled in the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers shortstop recording a two-hit game, while the rookie first baseman racked up another three-hit performance in the losing effort.
Tigers 4, Twins 0
The night game was sort of the reverse of game one. Joey Wentz came out pumping a heavy dose of fastballs with better command than he’s shown this year, and the Tigers jumped on the Twins early.
After Wentz set down the Twins in order in the top of the first, striking out Kyle Garlick, the Tigers quickly put two on the board. Willi Castro led off with a ground ball single the opposite way, stole second, and then jogged home as Jonathan Schoop blasted his fifth homer of the year to left. Harold Castro lined out, and Báez struck out, but Spencer Torkelson drew a walk to give Kody Clemens his first major league at-bat. It went okay, as Clemens hit a solid fly ball to left for the final out of the inning.
Jonathan Schoop goes deep for his 5th homer of the season. pic.twitter.com/8h8CV0rUEN— Woodward Tigers (@WoodwardTigers) May 31, 2022
Wentz went through the Twins in order again in the top of the second, striking out Trevor Larnach along the way, and the Tigers got right back at it. Candelario walked and Daz Cameron bounced a single over Jose Miranda at third for a single. Tucker Barnhart moved them up with a ground ball to second, but Willi Castro struck out. That left things up to Schoop again, hitting in the two-hole, and he delivered again, cueing a one-hopper off the end of the bat that Polanco couldn’t handle. The ball got away into shallow right field and both runners scored. 4-0 Tigers.
Harold Castro followed by slicing a double down the left field line into the corner, but Báez lined out sharply to Larnach in right field to end the inning.
Wentz allowed a single but no more in the top of the third, and Kody Clemens drew a four pitch walk in the bottom half to reach base for the first time in the majors. Nothing came of either baserunner, and Wentz came right back out and cruised through the top of the fourth as well, locating his fastball consistently and spinning in the occasional good breaking ball. He struck out Garlick for the second out of the inning. In the bottom half, Schoop drew a two-out walk, but Harold Castro struck out to snuff thoughts of another Schoop-assisted rally.
In the fifth, Wily Peralta took over from Wentz. The lefty was grimacing on the last pitch he threw and Barnhart called for the trainer. The first report is a left shoulder strain, although Hinch said it was more at his neck/collarbone than in the shoulder in his post-game presser. Wentz only just returned from Tommy John surgery a year ago, and was in line for his first major league win. Hate to see it.
The lack of a normal timetable and spring camp continues to take its toll on the Tigers. Just brutal after a really nice four inning performance that looked like a starting point for Wentz to start helping this beleaguered rotation.
#Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart saw something when Joey Wentz threw his last pitch and called out the trainers. Wentz has to exit the game. #DetroitRoots@Tucker_Barnhart | @JoeyWentz pic.twitter.com/dR8mfmb23m— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) June 1, 2022
Peralta had to rush, so it wasn’t too surprising that he walked Larnach to start the inning. He bounced back, striking out Miranda and getting Nick Gordon on a ground out to first that Torkelson nearly turned into a slick double play as he fired to Báez. The return to first was just a hair late, and Peralta then walked Ryan Jeffers before finally getting Jermaine Palacios to ground out.
Cole Sands’ night was also over at this point, with right-hander Jose Minaya taking over. Báez reached on a throwing error to start things off, but Torkelson grounded into a double play and Clemens struck out to end the inning. Peralta settled in for the sixth, getting three quick outs.
Daz Cameron was hit by a Minaya changeup with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and quickly took revenge by stealing second base. However, Barnhart flew out and Willi Castro grounded out to strand him.
Daz Cameron is now 9-for-9 in stolen bases for his Major League career.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 1, 2022
Andrew Chafin took over in the seventh and after popping up Polanco, gave up a double to Larnach on an 0-2 meatball middle-up. No matter, as Miranda and Gordon grounded out to end the threat, the latter of which required a nice charging play and a quick throw from Báez to complete.
The Tigers went quickly in the bottom of the seventh against old friend Caleb Thielbar, and Jason Foley spun a very efficient eight pitch top of the eighth, striking out Palacios and allowing just a Buxton single. The Tigers once again went down quickly in the bottom of the eighth. Kody Clemens struck out in his final two at-bats and will have to wait a bit for his first major league hit. Frankly beyond the second inning this was a classically awful 2022 Tigers offensive performance, but they’d done enough early on.
Once again huge credit to the bullpen for salvaging a bad situation with Wentz leaving suddenly and five innings to cover. Credit to A.J. Hinch too for getting those innings out of Garcia in game one and finding the right combination of arms to get them through another starter down to injury.
Michael Fulmer had the ninth, and he was in good form. Fulmer punched out Garlick and Polanco, and got Larnach to ground out to finish off the save and earn the Tigers a split with the Twins.