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Giants 4, Tigers 3: Late comeback falls short

The Tigers chipped away at a 4-0 lead in the late innings, but couldn’t quite get the big hit they needed.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The final two-game set on one of the geographically-weirder road trips you’ll ever see (Boston, Arizona, San Francisco) began with a 4-3 loss to the Giants on Tuesday night.

Starting tonight for the Tigers was Tarik Skubal, who’s come back down to Earth lately, after a sensational start. His first start of June was arguably the best of his career, with seven shutout innings against the Twins. But then in his next four starts he gave up 3, 4, 5 and 6 runs, so I was definitely hoping that trend wouldn’t continue. As it turns out, he’d ultimately be on the hook for three of San Francisco’s four runs.

Taking the hill for the Giants was Carlos Rodón. After spending seven years with the White Sox, and having the best year of his career by far last year (13-5 record, 2.37 ERA, lowest HR/9 innings and highest K/9 innings to that point), he’s carried right on with those winning ways with a WHIP right around 1.000 and only four home runs surrendered in his first 80 innings of work. Heck, if you Porcello-out one lousy mid-May outing against the Cardinals, his numbers across the board might actually be better than last year. So, Detroit’s batsmen had their work cut out for them.

The Giants put runners on second and third with one out in the first inning after a single and a double. Skubal coaxed a ground ball out of Darin Ruf for the second out, but Evan Longoria’s soft looper to center in front of Riley Greene cashed both runners in for a 2-0 lead.

Meanwhile, over the first three innings, the only baserunner the Tigers could manage was Miguel Cabrera, on an infield single to the pitcher. And no, I am not making that up: he hit a rocket back up through the box which clanked off the pitching rubber and went straight up into the air. By the time it came down and a throw to first was made, Cabrera was already across first base, rather proud of himself.

Skubal was getting squeezed, though, especially on a full-count pitch with two out in the third to Evan Longoria, a beauty on the inside corner that was called a ball. Fortunately, Mike Yastrzemski hit a ground ball to end the inning, but at that point Skubal had thrown 76 pitches after a couple of lengthy frames.

He managed to last 4 23 innings, after which he’d thrown 108 pitches. Skubal gave way to Wily Peralta after a walk to Ruf, and a Longoria swinging bunt and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with two out, exactly like the first inning. And, also identically to the first inning, a soft single to center scored both runs and it was a 4-0 game. Tommy La Stella pinch-hit, and on a 1-2 pitch he swung and missed on a ball in the dirt; Tucker Barnhart caught the ball and tagged La Stella. However, the umpire thought it was a foul-tip into the dirt, the at-bat continued, and eventually he hit a single that put runners on the corners. Thankfully, Thairo Estrada then decided to bunt on the first pitch, and he popped a neat little soft liner right back to Peralta like they were playing pepper.

The Tigers got on the board in the sixth: Robbie Grossman doubled to centre and took third on a wild pitch. With two out, Cabrera cued a perfect bouncer down the first base line into right field, scoring Grossman.

But then, after a frozen-rope single the other way by Greene, the umpire decided to expand the strike zone just a touch with Spencer Torkelson, which led to him striking out, and that was that for the mini-rally.

Rodón was done after six, and the Tigers greeted John Brebbia with a pair of doubles by Willi Castro and Jeimer Candelario, making it a 4-2 game. But then a popout, lineout and strikeout stranded Candelario on second to finish the inning.

With two outs in the eighth, Greene and Torkelson both drew walks, bringing Willi Castro to the plate. Willi singled to left, bringing a racing Greene around third to score, narrowing the gap to 4-3. Candelario walked to load the bases, and Giants manager Gabe Kapler yanked Dominc Leone for Camilo Doval to face Jonathan Schoop. The choice was a wise one, as Schoop struck out on a sweeping slider to end the threat and strand three.

Joe Jiménez came on to pitch the bottom of the eighth and the Giants hit the ball hard, but fortunately right at people. That gave the Tigers a shot to continue chipping away at the lead as they had been doing the previous three innings.

Doval stayed into the game to start the ninth, and with one out Grossman drew a walk to put the tying run aboard. Javier Báez hit a grounder to shortstop for a game-ending double play on the first pitch, despite in this humble reporter’s opinion the replay showing Ruf’s foot clearly coming off the base.

Here’s hoping the umpiring’s better tomorrow.

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Stats and Such

  • Rodón spent seven years in the AL Central, which means a greater number of his pitching appearances have come against opponents within that division, which is true. However, coming into tonight, he’d appeared in 9 games against the Tigers, 10 against the Royals, 12 against the Twins... but a whopping 21 against Cleveland.
  • This was the Tigers’ first visit to San Francisco since the 2012 World Series. The less said about that, the better.
  • Since his day off on June 15, Javier Báez has been on a tear: a slash line of .359/.390/.795 for a 1.185 OPS in 10 games and 41 plate appearances. He’s had 14 hits, eight of which were for extra bases (three doubles, a triple and four home runs). His BABIP during that stretch was .333, which is a touch on the high side but not too extravagant, meaning this probably wasn’t luck.
  • On this date in 1976, Mark Fidrych threw his famous complete-game win against the Yankees on national television, vaulting him to superstardom. If you’ve never watched that game in its entirety, you should really clear a couple hours out of your schedule to do that.
  • Also on this date in 1914, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip. This led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia, and because of a complicated set of agreements between the various monarchies of Europe at the time, this eventually led to World War I. The Onion’s fake historical headlines once trumpeted Archduke Ferdinand declaring in early 1913, “NO MAN CAN STOP ME”. (The rest of that fake front page makes for some terrific reading, too.)