The Tigers managed a split of today’s double-header against Cleveland, losing the day game but rallying and blasting past the Guardians to take the nightcap, ending a frustrating eight-game losing streak.
In the first game, Drew Hutchinson continued his surprise (as in surprise, he’s pitching for the Tigers!) season against struggling Guardians pitcher Aaron Civale, who has a high ERA but seemingly owns the Tigers. And… it was a surprising pitcher’s duel, as both hurlers went over five innings, giving up one run each.
Civale struck out 10 Tigers in six innings as he continued to stymie the offense, which only had three hits on the night. Two of those hits came in the first inning when Greene singled and Baez doubled, then Harold Castro got the RBI on a groundout. However, the Tigers mustered only one other knock the entire game as the offense went into a coma they couldn’t recover from.
Hutch dodged and weaved out of trouble through 5 1⁄3 innings, allowing just one run and striking out four. The bullpen, however, could not hold the tie. After Will Vest came on and finished out the sixth, he was back out to start the seventh and disaster struck. A walk and single put two men on, and with one out Andrew Chafin came on. A strikeout was the second out of the inning, but Chafin did something he’s rarely done all year — allowed a home run, an Earl Weaver special that put Cleveland on top 4-1.
The Tigers’ offense couldn’t muster anything the rest of the game, and the losing streak was up to eight. Ugly, very ugly.
Game two started shortly after the first one, and was the heavyweight matchup of… *checks notes*… Bryan Garcia vs Xzavion Curry, who was making his first-ever start in the majors. A clash of titans, this one.
Tigers threatened in the first inning with two on and one out, but Baez promptly grounded into a double play. However, in the second inning they would not be denied. Kerry Carpenter, struggling a bit in his first few games, nailed his first extra-base hit with a double, firing up the Tigers faithful (probably). Tucker Barnhart, whose average had dropped below .200, surprised everyone with a solid single, scoring Kerry and putting the Kitties on top.
Meanwhile, Garcia, who has been surprisingly serviceable as an emergency rotation piece, was playing with fire. In the fourth inning, he got burned, giving up a two-run bomb, followed by a solo shot to put the Guardians up 3-1. Given the morning’s offensive performance, hopes were low for a comeback.
This Tigers team decided to emulate the Goonies, never saying die, and three singles and a groundout in the fifth tied the game. Solid little rally — and suddenly it was a new ballgame.
Garcia, shaky earlier, settled down and actually managed the quality start, going six innings and giving up just the three runs without walking a single batter. The Fetterization of org pitchers continues! Curry, meanwhile, gave up three in his five innings.
The Guardians went to their bullpen, with reliever Eli Morgan coming in to keep the game tied. He…did not. Schoop hit a line drive solo home run, and Kerry Carpenter laid down the wood and hit a huge HR to deep right center, his first in the majors, and back-to-back jacks for the Tigers, pushing the lead to 5-3. Here’s to many more for Carpenter, who earned every bit of that blast.
Cisnero came on and was shaky, allowing a run and leaving the game with a jam on the bases. However, revitalized Joe Jimenez induced an inning-ending DP, keeping the Tigers in the lead. This is probably a good time to also point out that Kody Clemens had two fantastic defensive plays in the game, so while his bat is cold, his glove is not. Uh, yay sports analogies!
Tigers tacked on two more runs, and while Soto gave up one, he buckled down and got the save, his 21st on the year. The team remains in Cleveland for two more games before getting a needed day off.
[Editor’s note: h/t to Mr. Sunshine for covering today’s doubleheader action]