The opener of a three-game weekend series in Kansas City wasn’t exactly a tense affair, with the Tigers winning easily 10-2. This one saw some fantastic starting pitching, multiple home runs, and a few defensive miscues by the Royals: so, all in all, a pretty nice Friday night.
Joey Wentz made his third start of the season, after being recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Thursday. He saw some action in Detroit at the end of May, then found himself on Toledo’s injured list by the end of June. But, here he is again, under the bright lights and amongst the tall buildings — and it sure looks like he liked the surroundings tonight.
Facing Wentz tonight was Daniel Lynch, and every time I see his name, of course I think of weirdo filmmaker David Lynch (who I don’t believe is any relation). Lynch’s season, his second in the major leagues, has been a lot like his first: not a whole lot of strikeouts, and a walk rate that sits a little higher than he’d probably want. But hey, he’s learning, and aren’t we all?
Things got rolling for the Tigers in the second, as Eric Haase took the third pitch of the inning quite a ways over the wall in left-center for a solo home run.
This was Haase’s seventh straight hit, after a 5-for-5 day on Wednesday and a single in his final at-bat on Tuesday night. (He wasn’t done, as you’ll see.)
After nice singles by Spencer Torkelson and Kerry Carpenter, Jeimer Candelario smashed a no-doubter of his own way up the left-field stands for a 4-0 lead.
In the fourth, with runners on second and third with one out, Willi Castro hit a chopper to first base; Vinne Pasquantino took the out at first which allowed Candelario to score from third, putting Detroit up 5-0. Javier Báez followed and, with two outs and two strikes, he shortened-up his swing, put the bat on the ball, and drove a single to centre, scoring Riley Greene, making it 6-0 and driving Lynch from the game.
[insert pained sigh while pinching the bridge of my nose, wondering why Báez hasn’t been doing this all along]
Wentz was looking good early, with a nice mix of pitches: a four-seamer reaching into the mid-90s, a cutter, and a curveball in there a touch under 80 mph. He’d been averaging about four innings per start so AJ Hinch wasn’t going to ask him to go the distance or anything. (Not like anyone goes the distance these days, except for Sandy Alcantara.) Through four innings Wentz had thrown only 51 pitches, 34 for strikes, which is pretty darn efficient; he also got plenty of ground balls, which was very democratic of him.
The Tigers pushed the score to 7-0 on a Candelario double to left that was misplayed by Nate Eaton, allowing Jonathan Schoop to score all the way from first. In the sixth, Haase hit his second home run of the night, a solo shot to make it 8-0, and oh my goodness is he seeing the ball well.
As the bottom of the seventh dawned, Wentz came back out for the longest start he’s had in a long time; with one out he walked Pasquantino (and according to the radio guys that was, unofficially, his first three-ball count of the night). He coaxed a soft pop-up to right, and his game was done: 6 2⁄3 innings, two hits, no runs, one walk, five strikeouts. José Cisnero came on for Wentz and got a flyout to right to get the final out of the inning.
Worth noting: in a very classy move, plenty of Royals fans, knowing Wentz was a young local guy, gave him a great ovation as he walked to the dugout. Kudos, KC: you’re alright, and so is your barbecue. (I gotta get out there sometime.)
With two outs and Willi Castro on first in the eighth, Haase hit a mile-high pop-up down the right field line. Normally this would be the third out of the inning, but the ball fell just in front of Ryan O’Hearn, allowing Castro to score all the way from first. Eric Haase: he hits ‘em far, he hits ‘em short.
Daniel Norris took the mound for the eighth, and with runners on the corners and two outs, Bobby Witt Jr. hit a squibbler up the third-base line that Ryan Kreidler couldn’t really do anything with; the run scored and the Royals were on the board.
A few soft base hits by the Tigers in the ninth eventually resulted in another run, closing out the scoring. Norris stuck around for the bottom of the ninth and, well, wasn’t terribly sharp: he didn’t get ahead of too many hitters. Clemens made a fantastic play to end the game on a hot grounder to third, diving for it and throwing off-balance to second for the forceout.
Finally... three Tigers (Haase, Torkelson and Candelario) had three-hit games. When was the last time Detroit pulled that off?!
Roll With It, Baby
I thought Kerry Carpenter and Riley Greene both did a nice job against Daniel Lynch with the lefty-on-lefty matchup. They took really nice “pitchers’ pitches” on the outside corner the opposite way for solid singles to the outfield.
A Scheduling Change of Note
Due to a weather forecast suggesting some rough weather for the Kansas City area in the evening, Saturday’s game has been pushed up to 4:10 pm EDT (3:10 pm CDT).
Notes and Observations
- Jonathan Schoop played in his first game since August 20, after spending time on the Injured List with an ankle issue.
- The Royals wore their dark blue “City Connect” jerseys — I don’t think it’s quite navy, but it’s definitely deeper than royal blue — with sky-blue and white accents, with white pants. That is one sharp jersey, except for that revamped logo, of which I’m not really a fan.
- Daniel Lynch’s middle name is Aloysius, which is also the first name of Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street. Neat.
- If the Rays hold on to beat the Yankees tonight, they will be only 3 1⁄2 games back in the American League East. At one point they were 15 1⁄2 games back. Do you think Yankees fans are nice and calm these days? (Hint: they aren’t, and I love it.)
- During the early part of this game my wife had a TV quiz show called College Bowl on in the background. I don’t know a whole lot about what happened, but Ohio State didn’t advance on to the next round, which I enjoyed.
- Two different Roman emperors were born on this day in history: Aurelian in either 214 or 215, and Honorius in 384. But, let’s face it, by that time the Roman Empire wasn’t what it once was, and was basically begging for a sacking.