The Tigers had a very comfortable matchup on Saturday night as Eduardo Rodriguez took on faded veteran Dallas Keuchel. It played out as planned, as the Tigers pounded the baseball all night while E-Rod put together a decent outing to even the series at a game apiece with a blowout 11-2 victory.
The Tigers haven’t done a lot of scoring early in games this season, but they got to Keuchel right out of the gate in this one. After Riley Greene flew out to start the game, Victor Reyes pulled a grounder down the line in left for a double and scored on a Javier Báez line drive single. Báez aggressively took second on the relay, and moved to third on an Eric Haase ground out. Willi Castro singled him home and it was 2-0 Tigers.
Eduardo Rodriguez nearly gave the early lead right back as he walked Marcus Semien and Corey Seager back-to-back in the bottom half of the inning. Nathaniel Lowe rapped a ground ball single back up the middle and it was 2-1 Tigers. However, E-Rod was able to snuff out the rally himself. He carved up Adolis Garcia on the outer edge of the plate with three straight pitches, and made a nice play when Jonah Heim lined back to him, catching Lowe off first base for a double play to end the inning.
The Tigers came right out and scored two more in the second to open some distance between them and the Rangers. Tucker Barnhart singled to lead off, and after Zack Short lined out, Greene doubled to right with Barnhart advancing to third. A Victor Reyes sacrifice fly scored Barnhart, and Báez singled home Greene to make it 4-1. Báez tried to steal second with two outs and was cut down, but it was a good spot to be aggressive so we’ll allow it.
Rodriguez didn’t have great command in this one, working the edges as usual but not quite with enough precision. Still he didn’t give up much hard contact, allowing a single in each of the second and third inning, but no more. Meanwhile the offense was doing Keuchel’s bidding a bit, putting the ball on the ground a lot to no effect.
Rodriguez looked to have kept the groove going in the bottom half of the fourth as he racked up a pair of quick outs, but then got into a bit of trouble. The latter of which came on a deep fly ball up the gap in right center field off the bat of Jonah Heim. Riley made a nice catch on the warning track with good communication as he and Willi Castro converged. However, a Leody Taveras single and a walk to Mark Mathias suddenly created a two-out jam. Fortunately, Rodriguez got Ezequiel Duran to ground out to Báez, ending the threat.
The offense took the cue for more runs, and Victor Reyes led off by smoking a drive to center field for a double. Báez grounded out to move Reyes to third, and Haase lifted a sacrifice fly to score him. 5-1 Tigers.
Rodriguez started the fifth with his pitch count still in good shape at 59, and racked up three outs on just four pitches in the fifth, including popping up Semien and getting a first pitch ground out from Corey Seager. The Rangers were clearly getting frustrated after being patient early on and starting to hack away. It didn’t go well.
The Tigers came right back with another leadoff runner in the sixth as Duran couldn’t quite barehand a swinging bunt off the bat of Harold Castro. They made it count when Jeimer Candelario smoked the first pitch he saw for a home run to deep left center field. It was his second off of Keuchel on the year. Two batters later, after a walk to Zack Short, the Rangers had finally seen enough and brought on Dennis Santana, who struck out Greene on three pitches to end the inning.
Once again the Rangers tried to answer back. Nathaniel Lowe slapped a single the opposite way, and a smoked ground ball down the third base line rattled out of a diving Candelario’s glove for another single. However, Heim flew out to Riley Greene on a soft fly ball, despite a little miscue from Greene as it was Reyes’ ball and they collided a bit. Leody Taveras hit the ball hard but lined it to a leaping Short who ran to second to complete the double play and end the inning. 7-1 Tigers.
That would be the end of a very effective but not as impressive outing from Rodriguez compared to the last start. Still, 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 2 SO will work. One of the reasons I really liked the Rodriguez signing, is that I liked Chris Fetter to help him to work up and down more and perhaps incorporate a slower breaking ball into the mix. Unfortunate that they haven’t had much time to work on things together, but I’m still hopeful there’s a bit more here to unlock in terms of whiffs.
In the top of the seventh, Santana walked Haase with one out, but otherwise had no trouble. Will Vest took over for the Tigers in the bottom half. He froze Mark Mathias and Duran with fastballs for a pair of strikeouts, and wrapped it up with a foul tip strikeout, also off the fastball, of Bubba Thompson, getting him on three pitches to strike out the side.
Josh Sborz took over in the eighth, forcing me to go find out how to pronounce his name, though it’s unnecessary for the recap. While I was gracious, Candelario was not, drilling a line drive double to center field to lead off the inning. Barnhart singled on a liner to left, and the Tigers were in business again with the top of the order due up. First it was up to the nine hitter, Short, and he got it done, lifting a fly ball to Taveras deep enough for Candy to tag and score. It was now 8-1. Sborz did rebound to dust Greene and Reyes with good fastballs, and it was Joe Jiménez time.
Semien greeted Joe rudely with a solid single to center field, but a low 1-2 fastball to Seager induced another double play ball to Shorty, who flipped to Báez to start the 4-6-3 turn. Jiménez battled through a full count to Lowe and finally blew him away with a fastball on the outer edge to finish the inning and send us to the ninth.
Sborz did the unthinkable to open the inning, walking Báez. That deserved punishment, and Haase quickly lay down the law, punishing a fastball up into the second deck in left field. 10-1 Tigers. Yeah we were having some fun now.
Willi Castro pulled a double to left, and Harold followed with a line drive to right for a single, bringing Candy back to the dish with no outs and men on first and third. That was all for Sborz, as Tony Beasley turned to lefty Brett Martin. Why you’d do that with Candy hitting I don’t know, but that isn’t our problem.
Anyway, this one was over already, so whatever I suppose. It sort of worked out, as Candy grounded into a force of Harold at second, but Willi scored to make it 11-1, leaving Jeimer at first with one out and Barnhart at the plate. The Tigers catcher singled to right, moving Candy to second. Short flew out to right for the second out, leaving Riley Greene with a last chance to do some damage. Riley took what was given against the lefty, smoking a hot ground ball single the opposite way, and we saw that it was good. Reyes stepped to the dish with the bases loaded...and grounded out. Ok. Save some runs for tomorrow.
Daniel Norris came on to finish this one and immediately gave up a solo shot to Adolis Garcia. Then he hit Jonah Heim. The life of wealthy, itinerant pro surfer husband continues to beckon our friend, I fear. Daniel rebounded to strike out Taveras on three straight pitches, but Mathias knocked an infield single. Finally, Norris popped up Duran and then carved up Bubba Thompson with a pair of pretty nasty changeups to put this one in the books.
Jackson Jobe’s debut for the High-A West Michigan Whitecaps went pretty well. The young right-hander was up to 97 mph as he spun five innings of one-hit ball with three swinging strikeouts. Here he is against South Bend Cubs top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong.
Jackson Jobe eats Pete Crow-Armstrong’s lunch. pic.twitter.com/ujrX8eCjA2— Tigers Minor League Report (@tigersMLreport) August 27, 2022
It was also a good night for first round pick Jace Jung, who collected his first pro home run in what looks like a pretty fun night to be out in Comstock Park for this one.