It didn’t start off well for Eduardo Rodriguez and the Tigers, but they both rallied and battled back to force a tie game that went into extra innings. They briefly took a lead in the 10th and had a chance to win, but then poor fielding work led to two runs scoring in the bottom of the inning and handing the game back to the Angels 5-4.
The first inning lasted a total of four pitches for the Tigers, with Victor Reyes getting the lone hit before being erased on a double play. The Angels, on the other hand, wasted no time getting on the scoreboard thanks to Mike Trout who blasted a solo home run to open the scoring. His homer was bookended by fine running catches from Akil Baddoo to limit the damage.
The second inning was mired by bad luck as both Spencer Torkelson and Josh Lester connected on pitches that left their bats at over 105 MPH but found gloves to become outs. As if taking the Tigers’ bad luck and converting it into their good luck, the Angels teed off on Rodriguez in the bottom of the inning. After getting a double-play to erase a leadoff single, Mike Ford hit a high flyball that just kept carrying over the wall to add another run. Jo Adell followed that with a solo home run of his own and suddenly the Angels had a 3-0 lead and Rodriguez seemed to be on the ropes.
The Tigers went quietly in the third, except for a Tucker Barnhart walk. Rodriguez settled down considerably and struck out David Fletcher and Shohei Ohtani, with a Trout flyout in between.
The fourth inning brought good fortune to the Motown men. Javier Báez ripped a hard hit one-out single and then with two outs, Spencer Torkelson brought him home with a line drive RBI single to get the Tigers on the board, trailing 3-1. Harold Castro flashed the leather with a great running throw to get the first out on a chopper up the middle, while Rodriguez pitched around a one-out double to keep the Angels from answering back.
Neither team did much in the fifth inning. The Tigers went quietly in order in the top of the fifth, while the Angels also went down in order, thanks to a great play from Ryan Kreidler at third to get Max Stassi. Rodriguez looked to have settled into a nice groove after a rough start.
Willi Castro lead off the sixth with a double and then Reyes hit a deep out to left that was nearly overrun by Adell. A wild pitch moved Castro to third with one out and he came home on a groundout from deep in the hole at third from Báez. That would be the end of the day for Mike Mayers, as Aaron Loup came on to get Castro on a lineout to retire the side. Rodriguez got both Trout and Ohtani on routine flyball outs and then wrapped up a 6 pitch half-inning with a groundout. With a pitch count of 75, he had fully bounced back from a start that looked like he might not make it out of the second inning.
Ryan Kreidler nearly tied the game at three in the seventh, when he drilled a two-out, 3-2 sinker into the corner for a double, coming just feet away from a home run. Unfortunately, Tucker Barnhart followed with a groundout on the first pitch he saw to end the threat. Rodriguez finished his night with another clean inning in the bottom of the seventh. His final line was solid. Seven innings, five hits, three runs, no walks, and four strikeouts.
Jose Quijada took over for Loup in the top of the eighth and AJ Hinch countered with Eric Haase pinch-hitting for Baddoo, but he struck out swinging. Willi Castro fouled off a couple of meatballs he probably wanted to turn on for extra bases and then was hit in the knee by an inside pitch. He was checked on and stayed in the game after proving to his manager he was okay. Reyes followed with a flare that dropped right on the right-field line for a double and suddenly the Tigers has two in scoring position with only one out. The Angels brought in Jimmy Herget to face Báez who swung at the first pitch he saw and hit a grounder up the middle to drive in Castro and just like that the Tigers weren’t losing anymore. Harold Castro got the intentional walk to bring up Spencer Torkelson but he struck out on a half swing to end the inning.
Alex Lange got the call in the bottom of the eighth and started off with a strikeout of Adell before walking Matt Thaiss, who pinch hit for Stassi, though Lange looked like he was getting squeezed at the top of the zone. It didn’t matter since he got Fletcher to ground into an inning-ending double play to send things to the ninth, still tied. The Angels challenged the call at first but the call was confirmed.
Ryan Tepera took over in the top of the ninth against the bottom of the Tiger’s order and he pitched a clean inning as the Tigers’ hitters were retired quietly. That sent things to the bottom of the ninth with Trout and Ohtani due up first. AJ Hinch turned to his most reliable arm, Joe Jiménez to face the teeth of the Angels’ order. Jiménez gave Trout nothing but his fastball and Trout couldn’t find it as he whiffed three times on it for the first out. He stuck with the heater vs Ohtani and got him to whiff twice on the heater before hitting a routine flyball to left for the second out. Jimenez got Rengifo to a full count before he laced a two-out single into right, but Jiménez got Tayor Ward to fly out harmlessly to send things to extra innings.
That meant extra innings and on came the ghost runners. The Angels stuck with Tepera and Haase greeted him with a sharp single to left to move Clemens, the runner, over to third with no outs. With Haase dancing off first, Willi Castro popped out in the infield for the first out. Victor Reyes struck out on a foul tip which left it up to Báez. Tepera gave him nothing but sliders and on a 1-2 pitch, Baez got a hold of one that was well off the plate away and grounded it into right field for a hit to score Clemens and give the Tigers a 4-3 lead. Harold Castro flew out to end the inning and turn things over to Andrew Chafin, instead of Gregory Soto, to try and deliver a win.
Chafin faced the bottom of the Angels’ order with Taylor Ward standing at second to start things off. Matt Duffy started things off with a flyball to right field to advance Ward to third. Andrew Velazquez hit a grounder to a drawn-in Báez but he bobbled it and and his throw was in the dirt, even though he had plenty of time to set and throw. Haase whiffed on picking the throw in, the run scored, and the batter moved to second on the throw.
Then, on a 2-2 count, Chafin bounced a wild pitch to Wallach to move the winning runner to third with one out. Chafin walked Wallach, perhaps intentionally to give himself a chance at the double play. Magneuris Sierra came to the plate and immediately laid down the safety squeeze bunt. Instead of letting the ball go foul, Chafin fielded it along the line but had no play on the speedy runner as the winning run crossed home plate. Even worse, given the high threat of the bunt, Torkelson and Kreidler were not in a position to make a play on the bunt as they stayed even with the bases. This is Tigers baseball in 2022. Try again tomorrow.