The Detroit Tigers didn’t waste any time Friday night falling behind the Toronto Blue Jays in a 10-1 loss at Comerica Park.
Just five pitches into the first game of Detroit’s three-game series against Toronto, the Tigers found themselves down a run and in trouble with rookie Elvin Rodriguez on the mound. Rodriguez walked George Springer on four pitches to start the game and Bo Bichette turned on the first ball he saw to score the first run. Another run scored on a double from Alejandro Kirk, and that set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The rough start might have been because Rodriguez is in the process of altering his delivery. No, he’s not changing his arm slot or delaying his motion; he’s working on correcting a tell that was picked up in his last game against the New York Yankees, as pointed out by Jomboy Media in the Youtube Video below.
If you’re not into watching an eight-minute video, the short and long of it is that Rodriguez takes a long look at third base whenever he throws his four-seam fastball out of the stretch. Being able to know when the fastball is coming is a handy tool when you face a guy who throws it 51.5 % of the time. Rodriguez throws the slider 23.7% of the time, so the Yankees knew to sit on it if he showed breaking ball.
Correcting something like that takes time. Rodriguez didn’t mean to tip his hand and likely never knew about the habit. Why no one in the organization picked it up before an opposing did is a bit concerning, but so is the way the rest of this game went. Let’s get back to it.
Things went from bad to worse in the second. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homered to center field, Cavan Biggio walked on four pitches and Springer sent the ball 380 feet, over the fence and almost made it in the Little Caesars' landing area behind the Tigers’ bullpen in left-center. Bichette went back-to-back with Springer to make it 6-0, and then Mother Nature got involved.
Rain began to fall in the bottom of the second and it didn’t take long for the game to enter a delay. Thankfully, the stoppage was brief and only lasted from 7:57 to 8:23 p.m.
We are preparing to restart momentarily. https://t.co/bCQGtpoRAw— Comerica Park (@ComericaPark) June 11, 2022
Things picked up in the bottom of the third with two strikes on Derek Hill and Jose Berríos got the Tigers' center fielder to swing and miss for out No. 3 of the inning. Rodriguez strung together a second-straight inning without a hit, but his night came to an end in the fifth inning.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled to open the inning, rocketing a ball through the gap between third base and shortstop. Rodriguez hit Kirk and Santiago Espinal singled to bring in run No. 7 and force him out of the game. Jacob Barnes came out of the bullpen and gave up one more run to make it 8-0.
The Tigers stayed quiet on the sticks all night. A Miguel Cabrera single in the fourth and a Harold Castro double in the fifth kept the club from being no-hit, but that’s not exactly the kind of silver lining A.J. Hinch is looking for. Robbie Grossman singled in the sixth too.
The bullpen got plenty of work throughout the rest of the night. Wily Peralta gave up another pair of runs in the sixth, but this isn’t college or high school and there’s no 10-run mercy rule to spare us from the ramblings of Kirk Gibson on commentary. (Actually, I thought Gibby was quite charming tonight aside from the bizarre toilet question while talking to fans in left field).
Joe Jiménez got the seventh. He struck out Matt Chapman and Gurriel before getting Bradley Zimmer, who was pinch-hitting for George Springer (3-3, HR, 2B 2 RBI), to fly out for the third out of the inning. Jason Foley and Will Vest were equally effective in the eighth and ninth, respectively. The bullpen abides.
Berríos came back out for the Blue Jays in the eighth and the Tigers finally got through against him. Spencer Torkelson singled with one out, Tucker Barnhart walked and Hill singled to load the bases. The momentum was shifting, but Robbie Grossman drilled a foul ball right into his knee and had to be removed from the game suddenly. Willi Castro pinch-hit with two strikes on him and fought off a few pitches before putting a charge in a ball that just fell short of the 385-feet sign in right-center.
A grand slam would’ve been nice, but breaking the shutout is just as good in a game where you are down 10 runs. Young Kody Clemens also pinch-hit in the inning, but he popped out to third to end it.
Detroit went down 1-2-3 in the ninth to end what was a painful night, but there are still two more games to make up for it. The ballpark seems to have a good energy about it with Miguel Cabrera celebration day set for Sunday and plenty of former Tigers around Comerica.
Here’s to a better tomorrow because that was ugly...