Riley Greene and Harold Castro did their best, but the Detroit Tigers couldn’t hang on to a two-run lead against the Cleveland Guardians Friday night and fell for the third-straight night in a row, 6-5.
In our preview for this game, we said that nothing Drew Hutchison does is sexy. Boy, did that turn out to be true. He struggled to find the zone early and walked Steven Kwan to start the game. Amed Rosario singled up the middle and Jose Ramirez drove in his first run of the day on a ball that snuck through the right side of the infield. Victor Reyes played it badly and made an even worse throw to third that allowed Ramirez to end up on second. Ugly, bad baseball.
Owen Miller tripled in both men two at-bats later, and Cleveland was out to 3-0 lead. At least Hutchison managed to rack up two strikeouts in those 31 pitches...
Things didn’t look stellar out of the gate, but baseball is a nine-inning game and the Tigers have Riley Greene. After Zach Plesac cruised through Detroit’s lineup the first time around, Riley Greene took the first pitch he saw in his second at-bat over the center field wall to get the Tigers on the board. Reyes grounded out to end the inning, but Greene’s home run triggered a much-needed momentum shift.
Hutchison set the Guardians down 1-2-3 in the third, allowing the bats to get back out there quickly and put up a four spot in the top of the fourth. Javier Báez opened up the inning by reaching on an error by Ramirez at third base and scored on a Harold Castro double that dribbled into the right-field corner. Willi Castro singled to tie things up, Jonathan Schoop reached on a fielder’s choice that resulted in no out and Robbie Grossman loaded the bases with a single.
Who else would you rather have at the plate at this point than Riley Greene?
The Hagerty High School alum delivered again with a two-run double to right field that gave the Tigers their first lead of the series. After wearing the golden sombrero on Thursday, it’s good to see the rookie bounce back so quickly. Greene’s double also knocked Plesac out of the game and forced Terry Francona to go to the bullpen early.
Cleveland chipped away at the two-run lead in the bottom half of the frame. Andres Giménez singled to lead off the inning and quickly moved to third after a walk and a wild pitch from Hutchison. Austin Hedges drove him in with a ground ball that bounced off a diving Willi Castro’s glove and trickled into right field. Fortunately, Clutch Hutch induced a double-play and ended his night without giving up the lead. Not sexy, but mildly effective. We’ll take it?
After getting another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, Hutchison left the game in favor of Andrew Chafin. He wasn’t lights out this time around but he got the job done despite walking the leadoff man and hitting another batter. Michael Fulmer wasn’t as lucky in the seventh. He got ahead of Myles Straw, 0-2, but ended up walking him on four-straight balls. Kwan doubled to right, putting the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second.
Fulmer got Rosario on strikes and intentionally walked Ramirez to load the bases, and then Josh Naylor hit a fly ball deep enough to left field to score Straw from third. Tie game. Giménez singled in Kwan, and A.J. Hinch came out to take the ball away from Fulmer. Good call. Alex Lange got the final out of the inning on one pitch but the damage had been done.
The Tigers’ bats were mostly quiet after that big fourth inning and the ninth was no exception. Trevor Stephan got Robbie Grossman to line out to center field for the first out. It would’ve been a base hit for Grossman but Myles Straw, who leads all centerfielders in defensive runs saved, made a diving catch to rob him of a bag. He then struck out Akil Baddoo, who was pinch-hitting for Tucker Barnhart. Riley Greene, as great as he is, couldn’t extend the game and struck out to close things out.
It’s a disappointing loss considering the Tigers swept the Guardians a week and a half ago, but at least it wasn’t a 4-0 shutout like Thursday’s affair. Detroit can still end things on a positive note before the All-Star break by splitting the series with a pair of wins over the weekend. Here’s hoping.