Don’t look now, but the Detroit Tigers are playing winning baseball.
With their 3-2 win Thursday, they have officially taken four-out-of-five against the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins and have won six of their last seven overall.
Rookie starting pitcher Alex Faedo once again proved he belonged. The former first round pick pitched five strong innings, allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts. His ERA through six career starts sits at an impressive 3.09. He was good with fastball-slider again, but this time the changeup was also more of a weapon along the way. It wasn’t until late in his outing that he ran into any real trouble.
The electric — and, honestly, surprising — start to his career is among the best among all starting pitchers of the last decade. Even better, Faedo is still only a few months into his return from Tommy John surgery. There’s a good chance he’s just getting started with the gains this season.
Detroit appeared primed to give him plenty of run support early. Chris Archer got ahead of Willi Castro 0-2 to start the inning but hit him on the arm with the next pitch. A walk to Harold Castro followed, and a red-hot Jonathan Schoop laced a line drive into left field to score Willi Castro. That left two runners on with nobody out in the top of the first inning. Unfortunately, a line shot off the bat of Miguel Cabrera found Polanco’s glove at second, with Harold alertly getting back to second to avoid getting doubled off. Spencer Torkelson followed by grounding into a double play, and an opportunity was somewhat squandered. The bats then went quiet for the next six innings, struggling to mount even the faintest threat of a rally.
Minnesota got their runs in the third and fourth innings off doubles from Gio Urshela and Nick Gordon, respectively. Urshela is inching toward “Tiger Killer” territory, as he entered Thursday with a .452 AVG and a 1.095 OPS against Detroit this season.
Faedo and, once again, the bullpen held things down to keep the offense within striking distance. The only runners allowed by the quarter of Detroit relievers — Andrew Chafin, Jason Foley, Alex Lange and Gregory Soto — were three walks, none of which were allowed to score.
But the Tigers still needed to score if they wanted to send the Twins back to Minnesota sour.
After an Eric Haase single in the eighth, enter perhaps the unlikeliest source of a go-ahead two-run home run, traveling 420 feet: Dazmon Jaroid Cameron. Daz has always had good power, but we sure haven’t gotten a chance to see much of it in Detroit during his limited playing time. He hit a similar ball off Chris Archer in the third inning, but the 416 foot flyout, which would have left 22 of 30 MLB ballparks, was effectively “Comerica’d.”
This one wasn’t.
Two-run home run for the lead? DAZ RIGHT! pic.twitter.com/DkC4fHKgQM— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) June 2, 2022
Just the fifth dinger of his career, it’s the second go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later he’s hit against a division leading AL Central rival, previously doing it against the Chicago White Sox on June 11, 2021.
With a newfound lead, Gregory Soto — who has not allowed a run in his last eight outings — entered for the ninth inning and put the Twins down in order to secure the victory.
The Tigers improve to 21-30. They’re still 8.0 games behind the Twins for the AL Central lead, but are now just 6.5 games out of the third wild card spot.
Up next? The New York Yankees in The Bronx.