The Tigers have probably adjusted pretty well to losing series this year, where it seems like every new competitor faced, the Tigers manage to eke out one win in a series, while losing the rest. As fans, we cling to the highlight reel plays (thanks, Riley, you keep it interesting!) and the handful of exciting offensive fireworks we get to see from time to time, while relishing that rare weekly win.
While this may not be the same Rays’ team of the past few seasons, they are still considerably better in the standings than Detroit, and there is a longstanding history of the Tigers being bitten by Corey Kluber, especially during his tenure with the Guardians, so this felt like the Tigers’ game to lose. And after a struggling start from Bryan Garcia, I think the Tigers were as surprised as anyone to see them take the lead early.
In the top of the first Garcia’s struggles were apparent early as he was not able to successfully find or stay in the zone. Lowe walked, but was quickly erased on the basepaths by a double play off the bat of Choi. Diaz then walked, but the Rays were unable to take advantage of the two baserunners. In the bottom of the inning Greene got things started early with a leadoff single, but he was soon eliminated by a fielder’s choice with Reyes getting safely to first. Baez then singled, putting two men aboard, and a Candelario single brought Reyes home, putting the Tigers on the board early.
The Tigers caught themselves a major break in the top of the second as Garcia’s struggles really took center stage. With one out early, a single to Arozarena could have spelled trouble, but the speedy baserunner was caught stealing, something that would become a blessing very shortly. Garcia then walked Mejia, Quinn, and Walls back-to-back-to-back, and brought Lowe to a full count before getting lucky with a foul out. In the bottom of the inning, the Tigers’ luck continued, as Baddoo got a two-out single and the Riley Greene decided to add to his 2022 highlight reel with a home run. Reyes doubled, but no additional runs scored. Still, the Tigers were up 3-0.
The third inning was uneventful on both sides, as each team went 1-2-3. That said, I was frankly stunned to see Garcia back on the mound, and it goes to show just how desperate the Tigers are to manufacture starters out of their existing battery.
In the fourth, Garcia gave up another walk to Mejia, but no Rays runs scored. That was also the end of the night for Garcia whose final line was 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB on 72 pitches. Aside from the grim walk number and relying on a ton of luck to get out unscathed, when Garcia settled down in the third and fourth he didn’t look too bad. In the bottom of the inning, Kluber sat the Tigers down in order.
In the fifth, Will Vest came on, and the walks continued to pile on, though the Tigers luck held at least for the most part. Walls got a leadoff walk, then got himself to second on a groundout from Lowe. Choi then walked, and a Peralta double brought Walls in, and gave the Rays their first run of the night. Another walk came in the form of Raley, because apparently this game is just all about the walks. For the Tigers, Kluber quickly with through them, three up, three down.
With Foley on the mound in the sixth Quinn got a one-out single, followed by a Walls single. Then Lowe got a single, bringing Quinn home. A strikeout and a nice play by Castro with Diaz at the plate got the Tigers out of any additional trouble. In the bottom of the sixth the Tigers would have to settle for a mere single from Willi Castro, and no additional runs.
Onto the seventh, and it started with Chafin on the mound, who had come on in relief of Foley in the sixth. With two outs in the inning, Hinch went to the bullpen and brought in Jimenez to face Arozarena. Arozarena became the 10th walk of the night. Luckily, much like many of the night’s other walks, no runs scored. In the bottom of the inning, Barnhart got a leadoff single against reliever Jalen Beeks. Greene then drew a one-out walk. Unfortunately a double play off the bat of Reyes ended the inning with no additional runs scoring.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but in the top of the eighth, the Tigers issued a leadoff walk to Quinn. Except unlike previous occasions where luck was on the Tigers things, the wheels fell of pretty quickly for Jimenez in the eighth. Walls walked to follow Quinn, then Lowe doubled, scoring both Quinn and Walls. Then former Tiger Isaac Paredes singled to score Lowe, putting the Rays ahead and chasing Jimenez from the game with no outs. Cisnero came in, quickly collecting two outs, but issuing yet another walk to Raley. Arozarena then struck out to end the inning. Bottom of the inning saw the Tigers going 1-2-3 which doesn’t really bode well for a comeback...
Top of the ninth. Soto came out of the pen and had a nice 1-2-3 inning, which they definitely needed. The game went into the bottom of the ninth, and the last chance for the Tigers to turn things around. With one out, Cameron drew a walk. Two outs and it was turned over to a pinch-hitting Haase who quickly brought things to a full count. Haase came through clutch as Haase singled, just making it to first and the throw was a bit high, making him safe. With two aboard the potential winning run came to the plate in the form of Riley Greene. Greene struck out, and ended the game with two men left on base.
Final: Rays 5, Tigers 3